10 of the North East's most haunted places to visit this Halloween

Days before costumed creatures, full of festive spirit, take over the streets we have put together a list of places to remember the region's ghost stories.
Hylton Castle. Picture: Amy Pattis.Hylton Castle. Picture: Amy Pattis.
Hylton Castle. Picture: Amy Pattis.

1. Royalty Theatre

Just off Chester Road in the heart of Sunderland is the current Royalty Theatre.

Originally built as a church in the 1800s and spread across two floors, the building was used as hospital throughout the First Word War.

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The theatre is full of stories and has its fair share of activity. Full apparitions have been seen at the back of the auditorium. Footsteps are heard on the stage and the back stairwell. Items go missing only to turn up later in other parts of the Theatre. EMF fluxes and temperature drops have been reported around the building.

2. North East Aircraft Museum

The museum is built on a training ground for pilots before and during Second World War.

The museum is spread out over three main hangars, all of which have their own individual entities. The first hangar is said to be home to the spirits of two men, one rather more aggressive than the other. It is believed the one is trying to protect his former helicopter from those who might get too close, as it has been known to shake when people go near.

Loud bangs and laughter have been heard in hangar two, thought to be caused by wartime lovers, whilst the third and most active hangar has recorded sightings of two apparitions: a young girl seemingly searching for her mother, possibly the second (and only partial) spectre. The legs of an adult female have been seen navigating the hangar.

3. Isis Bar

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Reputedly Sunderland’s most haunted pub, the Isis is a listed building on the city’s Silksworth Row. Now owned by Jarrow Breweries, the bar is thought to be home to Mary Ann Cotton. Born in 1832, Cotton was believed to have murdered up to 21 people, predominantly with arsenic. Cotton was said to have buried the remains of two of her own murdered children in the tunnels beneath the building that lead down to the river Wear. Crying and screaming has been heard and singing from empty rooms whilst the apparitions of a young girl and a Victorian lady have been seen witnessed by both staff and customers.

4. Empire Theatre

The grand old Empire Theatre has seen a lot in its time. It survived the Second World War and The Beatles graced its stage several times.

The theatre is reportedly plagued by an eerie, spectral cackling – reportedly belonging to the ghost of Carry On legend Sid James, who suffered a heart attack on stage at the venue in 1976 and died on his way to hospital. In fact, the comic Les Dawson refused to play at the venue again after a run-in with James’ ghost in 1978.

The front of house is also said to be haunted by the ghost of music hall star Vesta Tilley and a stage manager, Molly Moselle.

5. Hylton Castle

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The castle is one of Sunderland’s most famous haunted buildings and its ghost, the Cauld Lad, is believed to have caused lot of disturbance over the years.

The ghost is said to be the spirit of stable boy Robert Skelton, who was killed after being caught napping by Baron Robert Hylton. He struck the boy with a pitchfork, killing him instantly.

Like all good poltergeists, the Cauld Lad’s favourite pastime was throwing dishes, plates and pewter.

A lady who lived in the castle when it was last inhabited in 1905 alleged that the noisy goings-on were so distracting that sleep was impossible in the room where the murder took place.

6. Souter Lighthouse

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The lighthouse, which was investigated by TV show Most Haunted is said to house several ghosts.

It is believed to be haunted by a lighthouse keeper, a lady, and a pitman who worked at the nearby mine. Loud bangs and footsteps have been heard.

Members of staff have been scared witless after seeing a ghostly apparition of a tall man in a blue uniform style shirt.

7. Marsden Grotto

The grotto is built into the limestone cliffs of Marsden Bay. The area has been the home of many takes of smuggling, deaths, and suicides. In 1782 Jack and his wife moved into the grotto and ran it as a tea room for tourists to the area. However, in 1792 Jack died and the building went into a period of decline until 1826.

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Some of the reported instances of the paranormal include strange knocking noises from the cellar as if someone is locked inside.

There have also been reports of whispering when no-one is around. There’s also mysterious bare footprints that have appeared on the bar floor which cannot be washed away.

Staff and guests have also witnessed the ghost of a man that often appears in the lower cave bar area, also many dark shadowy figures have been seen in this area.

8. The Jolly Sailor

The haunted pub Jolly Sailor in Whitburn has been at the centre of village life for over 300 years.

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Legend has it that there is a Green Lady walking the passages.

A lovelorn girl who had been dumped by a visiting coachman, she pined herself away and haunts the upstairs of the pub in her fine green dress, bought to impress her would-be suitor.

There are reports of paranormal activity including a nurse called Rachael and the spirit of a man who apparently died of unnatural causes in the pub.

9. Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a 14th Century lady of the manor, Lily Lumley. She was apparently murdered by two priests after she refused to follow the Catholic faith. It is believed she was thrown down in a well on the castle grounds. She continues to haunt the castle to this day, wandering the corridors and rooms, spooking guests and staff alike.

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There has also been the sighting of a a strange man that has been sitting in the corner of the bar, and orbs are often seen in pictures taken guest’s hotel rooms, with some light anomalies also witnessed.

10. Washington Old Hall

The Old Hall, the ancestral home of America’s first president George Washington, is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a grey lady, who walks the corridors of the upper floor and is sometimes seen weeping.

The apparition is said to have been spotted several times when the manor house was used as a tenement block – mostly by children. No-one knows who she is, or why she is crying.

Other ghostly goings-on include a strong smell of lavender perfume reported in the entrance hall and the figures of children seen playing on the stairs.