A haunted bedroom in Oliver Cromwell’s house and streets with ghostly footsteps: The top 10 most haunted cities in the UK revealed
- Analysis of over 67m news articles has named Ely as the UK’s most haunted city
- It ranked ahead of other cathedral cities including Durham, Salisbury and York
- READ MORE: The best places to visit in 2024 named by Lonely Planet
Ely in Cambridgeshire is the UK’s most haunted city – based on analysis of more than 67million newspaper pages.
Family history website Findmypast analysed its extensive archive to reveal which of the UK’s 76 cities had the most ghost stories to tell.
Researchers studied newspaper archives published between 1710 and 2021 to discover which city had the most mentions in articles about ghosts. The figures were then adjusted for population size, using an average historical figure to reflect change over time.
Top-ranked Ely had nine mentions of ghosts in newspapers per 100 residents. The spooky Cambridgeshire locale ranked just ahead of other cathedral cities making up the top five – Durham (second), Salisbury (third), York (fourth) and Oxford (fifth).
Ely in Cambridgeshire has been named the UK’s most haunted city, according to an analysis of over 67million newspapers by Findmypast
Researchers studied newspaper archives published between 1710 and 2021 to discover which city had the most mentions in articles about ghosts – it found Durham placed second with seven mentions per 100 residents
The medieval cathedral city of Salisbury had six mentions of ghosts per 100 residents. Researchers revealed written reports of hauntings span as far back as 1861
According to the analysis, cathedral city York placed fourth, which saw six mentions of ghosts per 100 residents
REVEALED: TOP TEN MOST HAUNTED UK CITIES
1. Ely (nine ghost mentions per 100 residents)
2. Durham (seven)
3. Salisbury (six)
4. York (six)
5. Oxford (five)
6. Lincoln (five)
7. Armagh (four)
8. Cambridge (four)
9. Canterbury (three)
10. Derby (three)
In sixth place is Lincoln with five ghost mentions, followed by Armagh (seventh) and Cambridge (eighth), with four mentions each. Canterbury (ninth) and Derby (tenth), meanwhile, had three mentions each per 100 residents.
Examining the archives revealed a range of spooky stories over the past 300 years that explain why Ely took the top spot.
First there’s the haunted bedroom in Oliver Cromwell’s House, as reported by the Lynn Advertiser in 1997.
Oliver Cromwell and his family moved to Ely in 1636 and lived for a decade in a 13th-century house near Ely Cathedral. Cromwell inherited the property during his time, serving as a member of Parliament for nearby Cambridge, well before the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642.
This 13th-century Ely house was lived in by Oliver Cromwell between 1636 and 1646. The bedroom is said to be haunted
The house has now become a popular tourist attraction and the bedroom is said to be haunted – some say by the ghost of Oliver Cromwell himself. Reports include visitors seeing orbs and ghostly figures at the estate.
Next is a story reported in 1866 by the Cambridge Independent Press – the spooky tale of Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Newell’s ghost.
Jerry is thought to have died after he ‘slept upon a damp dunghill’ after getting heavily intoxicated. After his death, Ely residents claimed to see the ghost of Jerry at a place called Potter’s Lane, where he used to live. An elderly lady was the first resident to encounter Jerry’s ghost, and a newspaper article from 1866 says that she was ‘frightened out of her wits’.
Newspaper records of hauntings in Ely (above) span as far back as the 1800s
Neighbours kept watch the next night, and his ghost appeared again, which caused one of the witnesses to faint. Following the sightings, several residents of Potter’s Lane even considered leaving the area.
Interesting tales for the rest of the top three
The famous castle in second-placed Durham is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady – apparently the wife of a 19th-century Bishop of Durham – who fell to her death from its topmost heights.
Meanwhile, the Wiltshire County Mirror reported in 1861 a story apparently dating all the way back to 1669 of a Salisbury Doctor and his wife who were haunted by apparitions, as ‘great noises were made over their heads in the chamber above them’.
The analysis also found haunting tales from Durham, which is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady, the wife of a 19th-century Bishop of Durham who reportedly fell to her death
Jen Baldwin, Research Specialist at Findmypast, said: ‘From Dickens to The Woman in Black, people in the UK have clearly been fascinated by ghost stories for centuries.
‘Whether Ely really is a hotbed for paranormal activity or just more partial than most to a spooky tale, it remains fascinating to see the forms in which this topic appears in the papers both then and now.
‘This Hallowe’en, it is easier than ever to uncover some scary stories from your hometown, thanks to the 70million historical pages available online to search on Findmypast – who knows, you might even find that one of your own ancestors was involved in a spooky local event right there in black and white.’
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