Bristol is a bright and colourful city, full of life and happiness on a daily basis. So you might not suspect it also to be full of bone-chilling tales and frightful ghosts hiding around every corner of this ancient city. But from movie stars to buccaneering pirates, here are just a few of the most haunted places in Bristol.
1. The Llandoger Trow
One of the oldest pubs in Bristol, The Llandoger Trow was once the drinking hole of the terrifying pirate Blackbeard, as well as authors like Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe. But even today the Grade II Listed Building houses numerous ghosts, easily making it one of the most haunted places in Bristol. There are up to 15 ghosts wandering around the pub. The most famous of these is a small boy, who has a metal leg support and walks the top floor; his clunky footsteps have been heard by numerous staff members over the years.
2. The Christmas Steps
The Christmas Steps has had many names over the years, most notably Knifesmith Street, Steep Street and Queene Street. But one of the most well-known names was Lunsford’s Stairs. During the English Civil War, at the Storming of Bristol, Colonel Henry Lunsford, a Cavalier officer, was shot dead on the Christmas Steps. Other ghostly occurrences have been attributed to the gallows, which used to hang at the top back in the 1660s – with many locals claiming to have heard screaming at the top.
On May 29, 1946, nearly 2,000 people turned up to watch a screening of The Light That Failed at Bristol’s Odeon Cinema. After the screening, Robert Parrington Jackson, the cinema’s manager, was found shot in the head. Nobody in the cinema heard a thing, however, and it was believed the murder was timed with gunshots from a scene in the movie. The crime still remains unsolved, but shortly afterwards Robert’s ghost started appearing in front of female staff. Cinemagoers have also spotted the manager appear in the third row of Screen 3, as well as in the corridor. Others have complained of cold spots and banging. Spooky!
4. Bristol Old Vic Theatre
The Bristol Old Vic is “the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world”. Having opened back in 1766, we’re sure plenty of spooky goings on have occurred here. The theatre is said to be haunted by an old manager (You’re joking? Not another one!). Sarah McCreadie, who worked there over two hundred years ago, is said to wander the front-of-house area. The scent of lavender is regularly smelled by those who spot her.
5. The SS Great Britain
Known as ‘the world’s first great ocean liner’, the SS Great Britain sailed around the world 32 times, travelling more than 1,000,000 miles at sea. Now permanently docked in Bristol, it’s unsurprisingly one of the city’s most haunted places due to a long history of tragedies on the ship. Captain Gray, who is rumoured to have leapt from his cabin window to his death, is the ship’s most legendary ghost; his hobnail boots can be heard scratching along the ship’s decks.
Another of the SS Great Britain’s ghosts is Mrs Cohen, who died on board a few weeks after her wedding, while a sailor who fell from the rigging has also been spotted. Other ghostly visitations include elderly people, crying babies and young children. You might to rethink that trip out with kids…
6. Clifton Suspension Bridge
Tragically, Clifton Suspension Bridge has been one of the region’s biggest suicide locations since opening in 1864. More than 500 suicides have been recorded here, though the number of deaths has greatly dropped since barriers were installed in 1998. The signs for the Samaritans everywhere are haunting enough, especially on a misty morning. But some have claimed to see the man himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, walking around the nearby Leigh Woods – top hat and all!
7. Arnos Manor Hotel
Arnos Vale Cemetery feels like it should be among the most haunted places in Bristol. But we’re actually going to talk about the nearby Arnos Manor Hotel, or as it was originally called, Arnos Court. Built back in 1760, a nunnery was added in the 19th Century, where a nun became pregnant and ended her own life.
To avoid a scandal, her body was bricked up behind a wall and wasn’t discovered until after World War Two. This is when things started becoming scary, with guests hearing voices and footsteps, and seeing a figure dressed in a brown robe – especially those who stay in room 160.
8. Ashton Court Estate
A stunning place to walk in the day, Ashton Court Estate is not the sort of place you want to end up in at night. Visit on a clear moonlit night and you may come across the grounds’ fearsome headless horseman. That’s not all, because some have reported sightings of grey ladies and phantom hounds. Yeah, this sounds absolutely terrifying.