Whether you believe in ghosts or not, Greater Manchester has its fair share of haunted houses and ghost stories that have been passed down over the years.
From glasses smashing in old pubs to skulls hidden in walls, these local legends have attracted paranormal investigators from all over and even featured on ghost hunting TV show Most Haunted. We take a look at some of Manchester’s famous ghost stories...
It is not surprising that many of Greater Manchester’s most famous ghost stories centre around old manor houses and mediaeval halls.
Ordsall Hall in Salford is one of the region’s most famous. This 15th century Tudor mansion, now surrounded by residential properties, is believed to be home to several ghosts and was featured on the Most Haunted TV show in 2004.
One one of the resident ghosts is The White Lady, who is said to have died after jumping from the building’s most haunted room, the Star Chamber, in 1599, grief stricken by the death of her brother.
The ghost of Sir John Radcliffe, a former Lord of Ordsall, is also believed to haunt the Star Chamber, which was his old bedroom. According to the Ordsall Hall website, Sir John was a known ladies’ man and even in the afterlife prefers to harass female visitors to the house.
Ordsall Hall now runs Ghost Nights for anyone wishing to catch a glimpse of the White Lady or Sir John themselves.
Ordsall is not the only mediaeval manor in Salford that has a spooky past.
Built in the early 16th century on the site of a much older manor that dates back to 1292, Wardley Hall in Worsley is now the official residence of the Roman Catholic bishops of Salford - and a supposedly haunted skull.
It is rumoured to belong to St. Ambrose Barlow, a Benedictine monk who was hanged, drawn and quartered in Lancaster in 1641 for his religious beliefs.
According to legend, there were several attempts to destroy the skull, including throwing it in the moat and burning it, but it always reappeared. It is now known as the “screaming skull” as faint screaming noises can often be heard in its vicinity.
Other famous haunted houses in Greater Manchester include Smithills Hall, Bolton, where the ghost of a farmer burnt at the stake for his Protestant beliefs in 1555 haunts the corridors.
Smithills Hall also runs ghost tours, where you can learn about the building’s history and ghoulish residents.
Bramall Hall in Stockport, is another Tudor manor house linked to a number of ghost stories.
The hall’s Paradise Room, aka “the Ghost Room,” is said to be a particular hotspot for paranormal sightings, thanks to its priest hole used to conceal Catholics hiding from religious persecution.
The ghost of a heartbroken maid is said to haunt the building, as well as a red-cloaked rider who appears once a year on New Year’s Eve.
Manchester’s haunted pubs
Manchester also has several famously haunted pubs.
One of the oldest is the Ring O’Bells pub in Middleton. There has been a pub on this site since the 12th century and is thought to have been built on a Druid temple.
Its resident ghost has been nicknamed the Sad Cavalier. He was allegedly killed by Cromwell’s army and today appears still wearing his royalist uniform.
Ye Old Man and Scythe in Bolton is another old pub that dates back to the 11th century and is also said to b haunted by a dead royalist – James Stanley, the seventh Earl of Derby.
He was beheaded outside the pub in 1651 for his role in the Bolton Massacre. The chair he supposedly sat on just before his execution still remains in the pub.
You might not see him in the pub today though. Back in 2016, a Chinese artist claimed to have captured James Stanley’s spirit and presented it as part of exhibition after he saw viral CCTV footage of an apparition at the bar, the Bolton News reported.
The Peverill of the Peak dates back to the early 19th century and is one of the most well-known watering holes in the city centre.
Punters have noticed levitating glasses and moving chairs, but the spirit that resides in this Manchester institution is believed to be more of a friendly ghost than malevolent spirit.
Albert Hall and bar Albert Schloss underneath it is yet another site of repeated reports of paranormal activity and was featured on Most Haunted in 2003.
This popular music and entertainment venue is said to be terrorised by a poltergeist, believed to be Reverend Samuel Collier, who built Albert Hall in 1910 as a Methodist Church.
Staff have noted the usual signs of poltergeist behaviour – flicking light switches, smashing glasses and temperature drops – as well feeling like someone is trying to push them down the stairs.
So watch out next time you’re at Bongo’s Bingo. And if you do encounter a poltergeist, at least you can have a few drinks after to calm your nerves.