There's always plenty of scares to be had at Halloween in Manchester, but what if you want your scares to be a little more authentic than being served a blood red drink in a fancy cocktail bar by someone dressed as a zombie? So from threatening theatres to a macabre museum, here are some of the places in Manchester considered to be the most haunted.
The White Lady
Ordsall Hall in Salford, a Tudor manor house that dates back centuries, is just about as haunted as any building can be. Boasting not one but two ghosts, the most famed is The White Lady, seen by many a local over the years, usually ascending the stairs of the Great Hall. Rumour has it that she is the spirit of Margaret Radclyffe, the favourite Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth 1, who died of a broken heart following the death of her brother. Poor lamb. Now you can watch a ghost cam, broadcasting live from the hall, in the hope of a sighting or, for the particularly brave, join one of the popular ghost nights, staying in the dark confines of the old hall until the wee small hours. The Halloween ghost night gets booked up quickly to don’t hang around…
Chetham's Audit Room
Dr Dee was a famous mathematician, astronomer and thinker and was a favourite of advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. But he turned to the occult and lost favour, obsessed with magic and necromancy. Banished, he was offered solace and shelter in the confines of Chetham’s in Manchester where, legend has it, his daliances with the dark arts summoned the Devil itself one night. Pah, you say. But are you brave enough to enter the dark wood audit room where the original furniture still sits? What’s that mark there, burned into the table? That’s right. A hoof…
Find out more about Chetham's Library here.
The Brannigan's poltergeist
What used to be the old Brannigans bar on the ground floor of Albert Hall is said to have a poltergeist which would frequently play havoc with the bar staff, knocking over glasses and, more worryingly, trying to push them down the cellar steps. Albert Hall itself, a beautiful Wesleyan Chapel, is said to have its own fair share of ghosts and it’s certainly not a place you’d want to be accidentally locked up in overnight, its long spooky corridors leading to rooms that could be out of the Blair Witch Project.
A law unto itself
Whatever you do this Halloween, don’t be silly and get yourself arrested. Not only are there obvious drawbacks like a criminal record and the shame of it all, but if you’re unlucky enough to get banged up inside Bootle Street police station, that cell for one may not have only one of you in it after all. Footsteps have been heard by nightshift officers where no living soul should be walking, and an old timecard machine sometimes clangs for no reason. At least the dead here are punctual. Visit Manchester Police Museum for more tales of criminal spooks.
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.’
The Shakespeare Hotel on Fountain Street knows this only too well. Reportedly, many, many years ago, a young maid was killed on the site of the hotel, her body burned to hide to evidence. Like the smell of burning toast, she lingers, sometimes seen standing at the top of a winding flight of stairs. Once, she appeared to be still on fire… So just make sure there’s an extinguisher in your room when you check in.
Theatre of nightmares
There are theories about ghosts and theatres, about the energy an audience leaves behind when the curtain has fallen and the venue has emptied. What happens to that energy? What is attracted to it? You may find out if you’re ever caught a little short at the end of a performance at the Palace Theatre, where a cleaner who died in the building is sometimes seen drifting in grey mist, or sitting in corners of the ladies toilets.