I love Bristol. It’s a sprawling city (the south-west’s biggest by a long way), but it’s got a definite vibe that’s difficult to resist. The famous graffiti (popularised by Banksy – and no, before you ask, it’s not me or any of my family members) covers many of the buildings, giving it a real edgy atmosphere.
However, while there’s plenty of urban appeal, there’s loads of history in this city too, and not all of it positive. After all, Bristol was built largely on the slave trade, which is something it addresses in some of its museums. Perhaps thanks to its illustrious history, it boasts several ghost stories.
So, without further ado, here’s a run-through of its spookiest spectres.
The Scariest Ghosts in Bristol
- Arnos Manor Hotel. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Bristol and you’re fond of things that go bump in the night, you should sample this eerie hotel. Built using Bristol’s distinctive grey stone, the hotel houses a grisly secret- the remains of a nun who supposedly killed herself because she was pregnant (then her fellow nuns bricked up her body behind a wall – as you do). Guests frequently report hearing whispers in the night, and sometimes feeling something pressing down on their chests. Room 160 is apparently where most of the sinister action takes place – book it if you dare!
- All Saints Church. You’ll find All Saints Church in the Clifton area, and according to locals, it’s so haunted that it once drove a former resident to leap out one of the windows in fear! The most prevalent spook is a black-gowned monk who stalks the churchyard; and visitors often report eerie noises and flickering lights within the church itself.
- Bristol Old Vic. This famous Bristol landmark also houses one of the city’s most famous spirits. Back in the day, actress Sarah Macready worked in the theatre with her husband William. After he died, she wore black until her own death… and according to eye-witness accounts, beyond even that. People claim to have seen a ghostly female in a black dress, who wanders the theatre and apparently gives off the scent of lavender. When the theatre was being renovated, the architect reported seeing a woman wearing a black, long dress, who vanished when he tried to chat with her. Eek!
- SS Great Britain. Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s celebrated ship is a firm favourite of our children (so much so, that I feel I’ve officially walked round it too many times now!). We’ve never seen any ghosts, but apparently, plenty of other people have. They’re mostly seen on the ship’s deck; weeping children and sinister, darting shadows. Some say that the ghost of an old captain can be heard sometimes, pacing the deck in his hobnailed boots.
- Bristol Cathedral. I do like punctuality, so I particularly appreciate this ghost. Rumour has it that the ghostly monk will turn up around 4:30pm (between the cathedral and library) – and enough people have spotted it to make it an intriguing story…
- Clifton Suspension Bridge. Possibly Bristol’s most iconic construction; the bridge is not only a testament to engineering, but a rather grisly platform for people to end their lives. Sadly, several people have jumped off the bridge; and reports of shadows standing by the rails or tumbling through the air beneath are fairly commonplace.
I’ve strolled through Bristol on countless occasions (and sometimes late at night) but as of yet, haven’t caught sight of anything spooky. However, I shall continue to keep my eyes peeled and ears open for evidence of supernatural goings-on… I’ll keep you posted!