Saturday, 29 May 2010

Spooky Events at the Dean Court Hotel, York

Dean Court Hotel stands facing the West Front of York Minster and has two ghost tales attached to it. The first is something of a puzzle. Those that have seen the less active phantom often describe the phantom as being that of a Roman soldier, and this is how it is described in books and other literature. However, this is odd as Roman soldiers have not marched in York for some 1,600 years and the Dean Court is considerably younger than that, having been constructed in around 1850 as lodgings for visiting clergy.

It seems to be the helmet that the ghost wears that has led to it being identified as a Roman, and yet it is not always seen very clearly and some descriptions of the spectre could be interpreted as being that of almost any man wearing a metal helmet. If it were seen only on the ground floor, one might argue that this Roman ghost was walking on the ground level as it existed in Roman times and was ignoring the construction of a building that was not there in his day. After all, this site does lie within the area covered by the old legionary fortress that was the start of the city of York. The army headquarters building stood just east of here, so it would be an area where soldiers came and went with frequency. Perhaps he is some long-forgotten legionary on business that was then urgent, but is now equally obscure.

However, the ghost is seen upstairs as well as downstairs, so that explanation cannot be the true one. He must, presumably, be the phantom of somebody who passed this way since the hotel was built. But who he was and why he returns in a stout military helmet, nobody knows.

The other, and in recent years considerably more active phantom, is to be found in the cellar. This is the ghost of a cleaner woman who dates back to the Victorian era. The cleaner worked here when the cellar was shared with a next door property that was named Vollans. It is assumed that the cleaner stored her tools in the cellar, or perhaps she had rooms there, which might account for her fondness for the place.

One night in 2008 the Dean Court Hotel played host to a “ghost watch” by a local group of paranormal investigators. Although the management took great care not to let slip any details of the supposed hauntings, two different investigators reported seeing a cleaning woman of Victorian date. One said that she sensed the word “vollans” or something similar - which was spot on.

The third paranormal visitor to the Dean Court is invisible. There have been some odd “feelings” in Room 36. These take the form of a pressure being felt pushing down on the bed and a frequently reported cold spot, even on warm days.

This is not enough to put off visitors, and with reason. The Dean Court has a great restaurant that has won 2 AA Rosettes, and in 2008 won the Yorkshire Tourist Board's prestigious White Rose Award as Hotel of the Year.


This is an extract from Haunted York by Rupert Matthews.

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