Article by Scott Grenney (Editor of www.BarbicanWaterfront.com)
Ghosts, you’ve got to love them. Be you a full believer or a skeptic there is something captivating about the paranormal. Is there something out there beyond the grave or is it all easily explained by science?
After joining a group taking part in a Ghost Walk organised by Kevin Hayes from Haunted Plymouth I became more intrigued as to what had led to these ‘hauntings’. During the walk we were led across the Plymouth Barbican and Plymouth Hoe areas of Plymouth and Kevin did an excellent job in recounting the ghost stories from the area with a good mix of history thrown in.
The Plymouth Barbican contains over 500 years worth of history and today is filled full with a mixture of business owners and local residents. I decided to ask around the Barbican to see what first hand accounts I could find and was surprised by the results. A lot of people came forward in person, via email and on social media (facebook & twitter) to tell their stories. I’ve compiled a few of them here for you to take a look through. Enjoy 🙂
James Tanner via Twitter
@PlymBarbican Tanners and the Brasserie have ghosts in them, Tanners one is cool and digs music the one at the distillery is scary!
The Treasury via Twitter
@PlymBarbican Haunted Devon did a paranormal investigation here three years ago on Halloween which proved terrifying!!
45 southside via Twitter
@PlymBarbican There is a floor board in the Elizabethan House, if you step on it, the cradle rocks. Often mistaken for a ghost #haunting
Emmy via Twitter
@PlymBarbican the ladies toilets at Plymouth Gin are a particularly uncomfortable place to be #ghost
Emma Barbican Pubs via Facebook
The Cider Press deffo has something in it and at the club, used to see something all the time (H2O)
Lavish Bar via Twitter
We have had heard footsteps in the empty flats above the club late at night and then the sounds of Spanish speaking!
Lorna Pearce – Chambers Restaurant
I help out at chambers restaurant. I have witnessed folders flying off the top of the freezer, not just falling off, but flying across the room usually at the head chef. I was in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago by the sink, one of the waitresses was across the room. I suddenly felt someone grab my bum, it was not a gentle grab it was a manly grab! I jumped around, think I said “wo0”. The waitress said I had a shocked look on my face. We told the other staff who just laughed. Would love to find out who our randy ghost is !!!
Annabel’s Discoteque & The Vauxhall Quay
There are reports of a ghostly presence within both of these venues.
Annabel comments: One of the best moments was when we had all finished work @ 4ish… we all heard some heavy footed person running up the stairs… All 15 of us heard it & stopped dead… Went searching & nothing…wooooooo
During The Vauxhall Quay refurb one person commented: On the stairs I saw someone walk up literally just before me but when I got there no one was there. Other people said they saw a small boy around the same area. I never believed in stuff like that but I couldn’t explain what I saw any other way.
Stacey Dyer – Former Manager of the South West Image Bank
On moving into their new offices within the Lenkiewicz’s Old studios Stacey found her new office is the room where Lenkiewicz embalmed his tramp friend Diogenes! However Stacey has not seen nor heard anything ghost like within the building. A friends dog however refuses to go on the second floor of the building and Stacey has been told there are lots of spirits on that floor, but apart from it being generally cold in the area she has seen nothing out of the ordinary.
Amanda Percival – Shirley Valentine’s Taverna
We have had a few strange experiences in the restaurant since we opened back in 2009. Most of the ‘action’ seems to occur on the two sets of stairs that we have up to the first floor. On many occasions we ‘think’ we hear someone coming up the stairs but there is no one there. Both staircases are carpeted but as it is an old building they obviously creak when you walk up them, but when we turn around to look there is never anyone there.
I have seen a couple of feet as I have been hoovering the stairs by the ladies toilets. There is a banister that you can see under when you are half way up the stairs and as I was hoovering, I looked under the banister and for a split second saw what I thought was a pair of feet with black shoes on. Thinking someone had come in before we were open I turned the hoover off and ran upstairs, only to find the place empty! I have also witnessed the lower part of someone sitting down (ie, legs) which again was gone in a split second!
My sister in law used to work at the restaurant also. She was just on her way downstairs carrying a tray with 4 empty glasses on when the phone rang. She placed the tray on a nearby window sill at the top of the stairs and went to answer it. The window was closed. All of a sudden the glasses toppled off the tray and each one of them landed staggered on a different step, unbroken, and upright upside down! There was only myself and Vicky in the room at the time!
When we had been open for a few months, the previous owners came for a meal. They had had the premises for a year before selling it to us but had never opened or used it for anything. The lady took me to one side and asked if we had ‘felt’ or witnessed anything strange since we had been here. I proceeded to mention that we had thought we had heard things on the stairs. She was not shocked by this at all and told me that they too had heard footsteps and sensed things there when they had been in the building!. We have also had a couple of customers who have picked up on a female presence in a particular corner of the first floor dining area.
In August I was approached by a Plymouth based group called Haunted Apparitions who expressed an interest in coming to do an all night investigation. Being interested in the paranormal myself I agreed and joined them on the night. Things got off to a slow start, but a couple of the psychics picked up on several different presences. The first being an Italian sailor called Torres Salvatori, and also a distressed lady called Josephine who appeared to be in Victorian clothing. We also placed glass on the table which only moved once when we called out but when it did a member of the team was pinched quite hard on her arm and you were able to see the red mark that was left.
There were cameras placed everywhere and they also took some audio recordings.
They came back last month too and did another session. They showed me what they had found on the first night. There are a couple of good audio recordings, the first being in the kitchen where footsteps and rattling of plates can be heard really clearly. In the cellar there is a whining type noise sounding almost like a baby and when questions are being asked on the ground floor you can hear ‘yes’ being said in response. They also captured a really strange light on film that appears from nowhere and moves across the camera. The psychic was convinced that the building was a lot bigger than it is now and was drawn to a particular area at the top of the stairs where he sensed another room. I am not sure if they found anything on their last visit though and will have to chase it up!
We also feature in Kevin Hynes’s book Haunted Plymouth and are one of his stops on his regular Sunday night ghost walks.
I don’t mind being in the building on my own in the day, not sure if I would like to spend all night on my own there though!!
Hope this helps! – Amanda.
The Admiral MacBride
Whilst living in the Admiral MacBride for a 3 year period with my partner Kamila who was General Manager at the time and our young son Owen, I heard all sorts of stories connected to the Pub.
One popular one was about a lady being chased into the celler and murdered centuries ago. However the celler looks like any other celler so appears ghost free :).
However during my time at the pub 2 things still stick in my mind…
The Shadow at the end of the bar…
This one is interesting due to 3 people seeing the same thing, but on different nights. I’ll put my hand up too and say I (Scott Grenney) was witnessed to one of these events. Although I am still a skeptic of sorts I can’t put my finger on what I saw…
My account: It was closing time and I was sat in the snug area with a local having a chat. Kamila was tidying up and dashed out to the kitchen area. I was trying to persuade her to join us so I had one eye on the end of the bar as I spoke to the guy next to me. In a blink of an eye I saw a dark shadow move from the kitchen area through the bar (where there is a walk way) and out of sight. I waited a few seconds thinking Kamila was about to join us, but there was silence. I called out and look out across the pub, but there was no one there. Kamila soon popped out of the kitchen asking why I was calling her name!
On mentioning this to Kamila recently she highlighted a time when a local had seen something similar so I had a word with him and this was his account.
Graham Chafer – Barbican Local: It was just after closing time, Graham was lent on the Bar talking to Kamila. In the corner of his eye he saw a dark shadow move from the bar area into the kitchen. He told her to go have a look as someone has gone into the kitchen. Kamila checked but highlighted the hatch was down across the bar and noone was there…
Victoria Green – Barmaid: While I made note of Graham’s account we wondered if the newest member of bar staff had seen anything. She had not heard of our talk of a shadowy figure, so we asked her and we left the question opened “have you seen or heard anything unusual within the pub at all?” She replied “no, not really”, but then came back after remembering a time she was alone in the snug area counting the till when she thought she saw someone standing at the end of the bar (near the walkway). She took a double look but it had gone. Again this was just after closing time…
None of us are saying it’s a ghost, or a haunting of any kind, but it is unusal to see the same thing on 3 separate occasions?
Loud Door Slamming Noise Early in the morning
On a few occasions when the pub was closed and the Barbican was calm with just the wind and occasional noise of ships rigging clanging against masts, we’d be woken up by a loud BANG noise as though someone had opened a door downstairs and slammed it shut.
On at least 2 occasions Kamila and I had to investigate thinking someone had broken in or the back door was unsecured blowing in the wind. CCTV cameras showed nothing and unlike in typical horror films where people say “hey I’ll go down and take a look” unarmed, I would carried a heavy torch with me with Kamila behind with phone ready to call 999.
However on both occasions all doors were locked tightly and nothing was seen to have fallen off a shelve onto the floor. Nothing had moved.
On one occasion around 5am the door slamming noise was heard again, but this time 2 huge bangs were heard. It woke us both up, but we thought The ‘veg man’ was the cause. He had a key to the backdoor were he’d drop off vegetables and fruit daily.
In the morning the 2 B&B guests came down as Kamila was cooking breakfast and complained about the loud banging noise downstairs. While she was explaining it was probably the Veg Man whom she will have a word with. He suddenly pulled up in his van outside and dropped off the veg order from the previous day. Kamila asked him why he came back and he explained he was running late today and would never deliver at 5am in the morning!
Was it a ghost? Was it some ghostly replay of a horrific event in history, or is there something more scientific going on here? Chances are the explanation is scientific and normal, but I have never been able to solve it :(.
Rose Macinnes – Plymouth Gin Distillery
I met with Rose recently who kindly agreed to chat about paranormal activity within the Plymouth Gin Distillery.
The building was built in 1431 to act as a monastery inhabited by the Black Friars. From 1536 the building held a variety of uses including the town’s debtor’s prison and in 1620 provided a place of shelter for the Pilgrim Fathers before their maiden voyage from the Mayflower Steps to start a new life in America. In 1793 distilling of the world famous Plymouth Gin began,,, Rose told me about paranormal investigations which have taken place within the distillery. Both investigations confirmed there are 2 spirits.
The building is said to be haunted by ‘Robert’ who centuries ago used to sell stolen goods and a lady of the night named ‘Elizabeth’ who used to hang around the area.
Rose has seen evidence of an Orb which appears to follow her around and also witnessed a glass fly off a table across the room during these investigations.
The ladies toilets within the Distillery are reported have a depressive feeling about them at times. Rose confirmed this and took me to the spot outside the toilet door where she has felt a cold spot on a number of occasions. Within the toilets a noise like a child crying can sometimes be heard.
The story goes… back in the past the distillery was used as a prison. It is believed that a guard got one of the prisoners pregnant. On the birth of the child the guard returned to kill the child and mother who are said to now haunt the toilets…
In the refectory bar there is a doorway where Rose has heard people comment in the corner of their eye they have seen a black shadow move past the door, down the corridor. As Rose and I chatted a member of bar staff who was preparing the bar for the day ahead also confirmed he had seen occasionally something appear to move, but on a full look towards the door there appeared to be nothing there…
Rose is not afraid of anything paranormal. There is always a very nice feeling around the place, even when entering the distillery to check when an alarm goes off in the middle of the night (brave lady!)
Paranormal Investigation of Plymouth Gin: 20th April 2014
I joined the Haunted Plymouth team on a live Paranormal Investigation together with Mike Pitches, Rose and Refectory Bar Manager Christos. It was an interesting night with lots of things happening including a video of something moving on camera. There’s also a gallery of images from the night to view here.
Ross Symons – Owner of ice cream Parlour at 54 Southside Street
Ross has seen the figure of a small girl on two occasions and one of his staff members, Charlie has even heard her name being softly called out from another room…
On the first occasion, Ross was alone in the shop and while walking from the kitchen onto the main shop floor he had to do a double take to his right. By the corner of the old disused fireplace he saw a hazy outline of a little girl, around 8 years old. She was wearing a white top and had curly ringlet hair, in a similar style to Shirley Temples.
A year later he saw her for the second time. The layout of the ice cream parlour had changed, but the little girl was seen in the exact same spot as before- beside the old fireplace. Her body now obscured by the ice cream unit, however her head could still be seen with her cold eyes staring emotionlessly at Ross.
One afternoon, shop assistant Charlie was alone in the parlour decorating cupcakes. All of a sudden, she heard a little girl’s voice calling “Charlie… Charlie”. Charlie checked the shop floor but could not see anyone, the shop was empty…
Recently Ross came across this 1800’s photo of Southside Street. On closer look you can see a little girl standing outside of the shop building
Could this be the same girl Ross has seen in his ghostly visions?
Angelina Evangelou Vandike
Many years ago i lived in a flat above ‘Pizzagetti’ on Southside Street The Barbican. I had three jobs at the time one being at ‘Platters’ I used to finish one shift then go home to get ready for the next. This was a good thing as it meant i didn’t spend much time at home !
Every Night I could hear someone upstairs in the attic room although nobody rented that room. Footsteps, things moving, scratching. One day I was having a bath when the bathroom door slammed shut. No windows open and it was a door you had to use some force to close from the outside. I stayed in the bath as i was too scared to get out as i thought it was someone burgling my flat!
After about an hour I plucked up the courage to get out. Nobody there. Nothing missing.
That night i was sitting at my dressing table getting ready to go out after work when everything on the chest of drawers directly behind me went crashing to the floor. It sounded liked someone had swept everything off with their hands. Ceramic nik naks, jewellrey, photo frames… I was looking into my mirror at the time which would have reflected anyone there as I could see the chest of drawers in it. I put everything back and left, staying at a friends that night as I was too scared to go home. The next night I was sitting at my dressing table again and exactly the same thing happened! I got dressed and went to my mums who lived in New Street.
I refused to go back there and my mum and sister went and packed everything up for me the next day and I never returned.
Lots of things happened whilst I lived there, but my memory fails me (ms symptom not senility!).
I have since spoken to someone I know who lived there after me (I didn’t know them then) and they also experienced unexplained and scary things happening in that flat…
Haunted Plymouth – Kevin Hynes
Plymouth is a city rich with history, atmosphere and above all else its fair share of Ghosts, Ghouls and classic hauntings. In the late 15th Century Plymouth was a prosperous, bustling port, with the influx of ships and crew, not to mention privateers, craftsmen and merchants.
The need for new housing was imperative; this led to the development of New Street. A number of the properties were purposely built for the likes of sea merchants and sea captains who relied upon the proximity of the sea for their livelihood.
Even today it is not hard to imagine the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh, Drake and Captain Cook strolling down these narrow cobbled streets.
New Street is one of my favourite haunts situated within the Barbican area and to be honest it has its fair share of supernatural activity. I have walked the ancient cobbled path of New Street many times over the past years whilst undertaking my regular Plymouth Ghost Walks and I am still in awe of how many of these ancient dwellings have a genuine bone chilling haunting associated to them.
For me personally I believe New Street to be the most haunted street in Plymouth, what warrants this bold statement you make enquire, well to put into terms of genuine paranormal activity there are indeed no fewer than four known haunted properties that are to be attributed to this historic street. The four locations’ I refer too are as follows:
The Elizabethan house dates from 1584 and is a restored captain’s dwelling. From sightings of a full blown manifestation, to the sound of phantom footsteps to name but a few experiences that have been encountered firsthand by horror stricken individuals.
Just a short distance from the Elizabethan House is number 34 New Street; this quaint and attractive building is home to Chris Robinson’s Gallery. This building has an ominous blood curdling classic haunting associated to it.
At Shirley Valentines the paranormal activity continues today as I too have been informed that an apparition of a woman has been witnessed standing in one particular spot of the upstairs eating area.
The Tudor Rose Tea Room is an ancient property which boasts a wide array of imposing spirits. On a previous visit to this elegant Tea Room I enquired to a member of staff if she had ever encountered anything out of the ordinary whilst working there, she then replied to me that over the past few years there has been a wide range of paranormal encounters, for instance full blown sightings of figures in the Tea Rooms to classic poltergeist activity.
I have been actively investigating the paranormal, which includes spending time at a wide array of haunted locations throughout the UK.
Previously I have been involved with several paranormal groups contributing to the running of charity nights, ghost walks and I have appeared on local television and radio in relation to my work. I have also researched and written a book in relation to my work titled ‘Haunted Plymouth’.
While I had to finish this article in time for Halloween, I am still receiving first hand account stories including one from a business which has a very unfriendly ghost. I may do a follow-up to this in the future.
In the meantime I hope you enjoyed some of the haunting accounts here. Are all these accounts easy to explain or is there something paranormal going on? I’ll let you decide.
I’d like to thank the people named in this article for taking the time to talk to me and share their stories.