|Broad Street, near to Bristol Bridge - the earliest, historical area of Bristol and from where it gets its Medieval name of Brigstowe, or 'Stone Bridge'.|
In recent years the centre of historic Bristol has altered with some key modernisation, yet many parts of my birth city retain an antique atmosphere – including numerous tales of the paranormal.
One such location, at the end of cobbled King Street, is the ‘Llandoger Trow’. Originally built in 1664, this pub lies in King Street, Bristol, right by the river.
There have been many accounts of paranormal activity here since it was built, but the most common occurrence is that of a disabled ghost who walks around the pub. People have often heard the sound of one foot being placed down on the floorboards, followed by the dragging sound of a lame foot.
Occasionally the footsteps will be accompanied by the sighting of a young boy, who seems not to have the use of both his legs. Sometimes the limping appears with the apparition of an older man – whether this is the same person as a boy and grown up is debateable – or it could be two separate individuals.
It has been reported that the name of the limping boy is Pierre.
Footsteps have been heard all over the pub and these have often been captured by paranormal teams in recent years.
Torches and lights have also been turned on and off during investigations.
Security cameras have picked up two men who sit in the pub long after closing hours (usually one in the main bar and another in the Jacobean Bar at the same time).
The pub has been claimed to house 15 ghosts over the centuries.
|The Llandoger Trow|
Further along King Street, the impressive ‘Theatre Royal’, built in the 1760’s, still receives appearances from the famous actress, Sarah Siddons, (1755-1831). In 2012, eighteenth century manager Sarah Macready showed up during renovations, smiling sweetly at one of the workers before promptly disappearing. Indeed, it may have been one of the Sarah’s who frightened a sceptical security guard in the 1980’s, firstly by causing his Alsatian dog to freeze in panicked terror on a routine patrol, just before the arrival of an overpowering scent of lavender and accompanied by the disembodied words ‘Get out!’ from an insistent, female voice.
Both terrified guard and dog duly obliged in record time.
Along with the ‘Llandoger Trow’, several Bristol pubs have been known for offering more than liquid spirits.
The now-demolished ‘Lamb Inn’ in West Street, Bedminster, was subject to an unruly poltergeist throughout the whole of 1761 – hurling glasses and furniture at both patrons and staff.
Not to be outdone, the medieval ‘White Hart Inn’ near the main bus station, has also experienced poltergeist activity in its time (plates and crockery being the projectiles of choice), alongside a former barman who occasionally makes guest appearances in the cellar.
Meanwhile in the oldest part of the city, near Bristol Bridge, ‘The Rummer’ sees visits from a ‘White Lady’ who roams the upstairs bar, while a young man with dark hair does regular shift-work within the pub’s cellar.
The ‘Post Office Tavern’ on Staple Hill has also attracted attention, due to the arrival of floating lights and odd aromas, complete with phantom footsteps.
Away from the bustling city centre, ghostly tales are equally common. A man approaches strangers in Stapleton Woods, as if to ask a question, before passing right through them. Perhaps the ghost is trying to ascertain why another spectral man has been seen hanging from the overhanging branch of a tree in the woods?
Near Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ‘Clifton Suspension Bridge’ – itself the scene of apparitions from poor, suicidal souls who have leapt from its 331 feet height – lies the eleventh century Ashton Court. Now, best-known for the annual Balloon Festival, until 1946 it was the ancestral home of the Smyth family. Here, the apparition of a young lady with a knife protruding from her chest (possibly also the young lady who wanders through the Great Hall) joins forces with odd, misty figures hanging motionless from surrounding trees, a tool-throwing poltergeist (objecting to some improvements in the main house during 1960) and a headless horseman, roaming freely amongst the 850 acre grounds.
In Clifton, a monk in black wanders around All Saint’s Church in Pembroke Road (one of many monks still seen in Bristol), while, in 1840, an adjoining house was so badly haunted by the spirit of an elderly man that the owners tried jumping out of an upstairs window to escape the spectre.
Nearby, a horrific haunting was inspected by the prominent Bristolian paranormal investigator, Montague Summers (1880-1948), when a large Clifton house was terrorised by the apparition of a young, hunchbacked girl, who had spent a pitiful, tormented life in the house, working as a maid. When a family of five bought the house in the early twentieth century, they were subjected to a frightening series of visitations from the hunchbacked girl throughout the house, attired each time in a dirty, pink dress and wearing a hideous smirk. Once, chased by a braver-than-average daughter, the search ended in an empty, lower room. Returning upstairs, the daughter was horrified to see the pale, floating head of the girl through a window, some thirty feet above the ground and grinning back at her.
Needless to say, the family soon left. However, future occupants fared no better.
My home city is also responsible for my personal interest in the paranormal, as it provided a pair of key locations to peak my interest during my much younger years; namely two of the houses I grew up in during the 1970’s & 80’s. Firstly, a shop at the lower end of St. Michael’s Hill, opposite the church caught my attention as a child, when an older man would tend to walk up from the old cellar and wander around the house; including my bedroom. While his introduction was lengthy (a lot of footsteps and tuneless whistling) his disappearance was instant. Furthermore, a house in Downend Road, Horfield – not far from the current home of Bristol Rovers FC – yielded several interesting experiences, including apparitions, footsteps and disembodied voices. At one time, the land was owned by a religious order, which may have explained the partial apparition of a happy-looking monk.
Over towards the southern bit of the city, at Arnos Vale cemetery, the apparitions of two separate ladies have been spotted over the years, along with the sound of mournful crying. Meanwhile, back in the upmarket area of Clifton, a house in Bellevue has been party to odd movements of a poltergeist style, complete with eerie noises, while Durdham Downs in the same area of Bristol was once well-known for appearances from a highwayman and a dwarf…perhaps the same person in the spectral form of an 18th century outlaw called Jenkins Protheroe.
Like any large city with a long history, Bristol has many more curious tales to discover and these tales are merely a taster of my favourite city.
And yes, I am totally biased.
|Looking towards 'The Portway', beneath Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Suspension Bridge. Leigh Woods is to the left, said to have witnessed Brunel's apparition in former years.|