This Halloween, we invited local podcasters 'Eerie Essex' to share their stories from some of Colchester's most haunted buildings, from ghosts of witches, to disembodied glowing skulls and lots and lots of feelings of unease and echoes of mysterious footsteps... 

This is much more frightening than your average 'Trick or Treat'. Be very afraid!

a black and white images of the north east corner of Colchester castle seen through the trees

Hi, Bethan and Ailsa from Eerie Essex here! We host a new podcast looking into the stranger side of the county. We explore the folklore, urban legends and supernatural encounters that form part of its rich history. Visit Colchester have asked us to tell you about our favourite haunted locations from the town, so here are our top five...

a black and white image of the fox and fiddler pub and other buildings on st johns street

The Fox and Fiddler Pub

The Fox and Fiddler Pub sits at the top of St John’s Street and has operated since the 1600s. The story goes that a suspected witch, Sarah, was a chambermaid here. She was dragged kicking and screaming down the stairs by the Witch Finder General himself. Instead of standing trial he ordered her to be walled up in the tunnels that run below the pub!

With such a horrid end you’d expect Sarah to be a rather angry ghost, however she’s reported to be a fun loving, good soul, who likes playing pranks on customers and members of staff. People who’ve seen her apparition describe her as a short blonde woman with a lace cap in a maid’s garb.

Whether the story of Matthew Hopkins bricking up Sarah in the tunnels is true we can’t be sure; it certainly isn’t out of character for the man who created so much misery in the county. We’re certainly no fans of his on our podcast.

A black and white image of the north west sides of colchester castle towering over the pathway in castle park

Colchester Castle

The epicentre for history in Colchester; a Norman keep built on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius and the scene of one of Boudicca’s greatest victories. You’d expect Colchester Castle to be very haunted and thankfully for the sake of this article it appears to be.

It’s most famous ghost is James Parnell, a Quaker, who was arrested and cruelly treated before his death in the Castle. His cries of pain are apparently still heard today and a plaque in his memory can still be seen in the well room where his cell was once located.

Another ghost of a headless nun has been seen in the chapel area of the castle.  It’s also said to be haunted by a red lady, who may be the daughter of one of its previous Gaolers and may have links to the famous tree which grows on-top of the castle roof.  In a previous life as a Museum Assistant, Ailsa heard stories from some of the more seasoned Assistants about the red lady appearing behind you in the mirror of the staff ladies loos (Which have been moved since the Castle re-development project).  She also got to hear of one staff member’s terrifying encounter with a glowing green skull sitting on the floor of the Lucas Vaults. 

This is before we even get to the prisons and the men and women who were held there accused of witchcraft. We have our own creepy story from the prisons that we're sure to share one day on the podcast along with a more in depth look at Colchester Castle.

a black and white image of hollytrees museum from the north side

Hollytrees Museum

This wonderful museum is dedicated to the social history of Colchester. Hollytrees’ also has its own history that’s worth reading up on. One former Colchester resident seems to love this museum as much as we do because they’re still hanging around 300 years after their death. Many members of staff have seen and heard Anne Lisle running past the gun room. She’s often accompanied by the scent of lilacs. Children quite often see her as well; one even commented that they didn’t like the lady standing next to her, though there was no one there. 

Anne’s portrait can be seen in Hollytrees Museum today, and we recommend having a look because it's fairly strange due the artist having depicted her with an overly large head on a very small body. 

Whilst Ailsa did spend quite a lot of time in Hollytrees as a Museum Assistant, she never encountered anything spooky, though lots of visitors did comment having heard strange footsteps in the upstairs galleries and feeling like they were being watched.

a black and white image of 37 queen street

37 Queen Street

The Old Police station at 37 Queen Street has a long history and being so close to the Roman wall it’s easy to imagine it being the scene for many events in the town’s past.

In it's life it has been the location of a private residence, a home for soldiers, nightclubs and of course the police station. The old cells have been turned into art studios and the corridor outside these has left some people feeling quite uneasy, as if being watched. There have also been several reports of being tapped on the shoulder only for the person to turn around and find nobody there. We are particularly interested in the grey figure that is said to lurk in the boiler room.

It is now occupied by Space Studios and Dice and Slice cafe where you can enjoy a bite to eat and spend a few hours playing board games. Be sure to keep an eye on your dice though as a pesky poltergeist likes to play a game of hide and seek, with objects disappearing, only to be found again later!

a black and white image of the mercury theatre

The Mercury Theatre

The Mercury Theatre is another hotspot for activity. It is a warren of corridors and hiding places where people have seen and heard strange things over the years. Staff members have reported a feeling of being watched and an eerie feeling of not being alone even when the building is empty. Footsteps have been heard on the roof above the stage, doors locked behind people trapping them, figures seen in the stands only to disappear on closer inspection and singing heard from an empty stage.

There are lots more stories to explore and we are always finding something new. If you would like to hear more strange tales you can listen to Eerie Essex on all major podcast platforms and if you have a story of your own you would like to share you can email us at eerieessexpodcast@gmail.com.

Thanks so much to Eerie Essex for their contribution to our blog! You can also follow them on twitter at Eerie_Essex or on Instagram @eerieessex for more spooky content. Happy Halloween!

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1 Comments

Comments

  1. Ghostbeliver
    Wow I never thought that mercury theatre was haunted, that’s so cool and I’ve been to Colchester castle as a school trip and I swear I heard thuds so it’s nice to know that’s it’s definitely haunted.

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