On the day immediately following our beer festival exploits, Amy and I set off on an adventure of a different kind. As part of Amy's birthday celebrations, we had booked a weekend in the fair city of York, a place we'd both visited in the past but not for many years and never together as a couple. The aim was a weekend of enjoying a fantastic city and exploring what it had to offer. We had various activities booked, had plans for shopping and, obviously, a list of pubs that we were determined to visit. But, this trip wasn't just about the beer that those pubs had to offer. One of York's many claims to fame is that it is allegedly the most haunted city in Europe and one of the most haunted in the world. It would have been remiss of us not to venture to the city's haunted hostelries to see for ourselves, not to mention fully immerse ourselves in the history and local lore. Not all of the pubs we visited are known to have any spiritual activity but they each certainly have a character all of their own, which is perhaps unsurprising in a city where thousands of years of history seeps from the very ground on which you walk.
York is a cathedral city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss. The city has long-standing buildings and structures, such as a minster, castle and ancient city walls.
The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Deira, Northumbria and Jórvík. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool-trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained. In the 19th century, York became a major hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre, a status it maintained well into the 20th century. During the Second World War, York was bombed as part of the Baedeker Blitz; although less affected by bombing than other northern cities, several historic buildings were gutted and restoration efforts continued into the 1960s.
The city had a population of 153,717 in the 2011 census and is in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. The district borough, governed from the city, had a mid-2019 est. population of 210,618, the 87th most populous district in England.
The word York (Old Norse: Jórvík) is derived from the Brittonic name Eburākon (Latinised variously as Eboracum, Eburacum or Eburaci), a combination of eburos "yew-tree" (compare Old Irish ibar, Irish iobhar, iubhar, and iúr, and Scottish Gaelic iubhar; compare also Welsh efwr and Breton evor, both meaning "alder buckthorn") and a suffix of appurtenance *-āko(n), meaning "belonging to,” or “place of" (compare Welsh -og). Put together, these old words meant "place of the yew trees". (In Welsh, efrog; in Old Irish, iubrach; in Irish Gaelic, iúrach; and in Scottish Gaelic, iùbhrach). The city is called Eabhrac in Irish and Eabhraig in Scottish Gaelic—names derived from the Latin word Eboracum. A proposed alternate meaning is "the settlement of (a man named) Eburos," a Celtic personal name spelled variously in different documents as Eβουρος, Eburus and Eburius: when combined with the Celtic possessive suffix *-āko(n), the word could be used to denote the property of a man with this name.
The name Eboracum became the Anglian Eoforwic in the 7th century: a compound of Eofor-, from the old name, and -wic, meaning “village,” probably by conflation of the element Ebor- with a Germanic root *eburaz ('boar'); by the 7th century, the Old English for 'boar' had become eofor. When the Danish army conquered the city in 866, it was renamed Jórvík.
The Old French and Norman name of the city following the Norman Conquest was recorded as Everwic (modern Norman Évèroui) in works such as Wace's Roman de Rou. Jórvík, meanwhile, gradually reduced to York in the centuries after the Conquest, moving from the Middle English Yerk in the 14th century through Yourke in the 16th century to Yarke in the 17th century. The form York was first recorded in the 13th century. Many company and place names, such as the Ebor race meeting, refer to the Latinised Brittonic, Roman name.
The 12th‑century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his fictional account of the prehistoric kings of Britain, Historia Regum Britanniae, suggests the name derives from that of a pre-Roman city founded by the legendary king Ebraucus.
The Archbishop of York uses Ebor as his surname in his signature.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Mesolithic people settled in the region of York between 8000 and 7000 BC, although it is not known whether their settlements were permanent or temporary. By the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, the area was occupied by a tribe known to the Romans as the Brigantes. The Brigantian tribal area initially became a Roman client state, but later its leaders became more hostile and the Roman Ninth Legion was sent north of the Humber into Brigantian territory.
The city was founded in 71 AD, when the Ninth Legion conquered the Brigantes and constructed a wooden military fortress on flat ground above the River Ouse close to its confluence with the River Foss. The fortress, whose walls were rebuilt in stone by the VI legion based there subsequent to the IX legion, covered an area of 50 acres (20 ha) and was inhabited by 6,000 legionary soldiers. The site of the principia (HQ) of the fortress lies under the foundations of York Minster, and excavations in the undercroft have revealed part of the Roman structure and columns.
The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay 207–211 AD, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a 'colonia' or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress. In 314 AD a bishop from York attended the Council at Arles to represent Christians from the province.
While the Roman colonia and fortress were on high ground, by 400 AD the town was victim to occasional flooding from the Rivers Ouse and Foss, and the population reduced. York declined in the post-Roman era, and was taken and settled by the Angles in the 5th century.
Reclamation of parts of the town was initiated in the 7th century under King Edwin of Northumbria, and York became his chief city. The first wooden minster church was built in York for the baptism of Edwin in 627, according to the Venerable Bede. Edwin ordered the small wooden church be rebuilt in stone; however, he was killed in 633, and the task of completing the stone minster fell to his successor Oswald. In the following century, Alcuin of York came to the cathedral school of York. He had a long career as a teacher and scholar, first at the school at York now known as St Peter's School, founded in 627 AD, and later as Charlemagne's leading advisor on ecclesiastical and educational affairs.
In 866, Northumbria was in the midst of internecine struggles when the Vikings raided and captured York. As a thriving Anglo-Saxon metropolis and prosperous economic hub, York was a clear target for the Vikings. Led by Ivar the Boneless and Halfdan, Scandinavian forces attacked the town on All Saints' Day. Launching the assault on a holy day proved an effective tactical move – most of York's leaders were in the cathedral, leaving the town vulnerable to attack and unprepared for battle. After it was conquered, the city was renamed from the Saxon Eoforwic to Jorvik. It became the capital of Viking territory in Britain, and at its peak boasted more than 10,000 inhabitants. This was a population second only to London within Great Britain. Jorvik proved an important economic and trade centre for the Vikings. Norse coinage was created at the Jorvik mint, while archaeologists have found evidence of a variety of craft workshops around the town's central Coppergate area. These demonstrate that textile production, metalwork, carving, glasswork and jewellery-making were all practised in Jorvik. Materials from as far afield as the Persian Gulf have also been discovered, suggesting that the town was part of an international trading network. Under Viking rule the city became a major river port, part of the extensive Viking trading routes throughout northern Europe. The last ruler of an independent Jórvík, Eric Bloodaxe, was driven from the city in 954 AD by King Eadred in his successful attempt to complete the unification of England.
In 1068, two years after the Norman conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially they succeeded, but upon the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built a wooden fortress on a motte. In 1069, after another rebellion, the king built another timbered castle across the River Ouse. These were destroyed in 1069 and rebuilt by William about the time of his ravaging Northumbria in what is called the "Harrying of the North" where he destroyed everything from York to Durham. The remains of the rebuilt castles, now in stone, are visible on either side of the River Ouse.
The first stone minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising, and the Normans built a minster on a new site. Around the year 1080, Archbishop Thomas started building the cathedral that in time became the current Minster.
In the 12th century York started to prosper. In 1190, York Castle was the site of an infamous massacre of its Jewish inhabitants, in which at least 150 Jews died (although some authorities put the figure as high as 500).
The city, through its location on the River Ouse and its proximity to the Great North Road, became a major trading centre. King John granted the city's first charter in 1212, confirming trading rights in England and Europe. During the later Middle Ages, York merchants imported wine from France, cloth, wax, canvas, and oats from the Low Countries, timber and furs from the Baltic and exported grain to Gascony and grain and wool to the Low Countries.
York became a major cloth manufacturing and trading centre. Edward I further stimulated the city's economy by using the city as a base for his war in Scotland. The city was the location of significant unrest during the so-called Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The city acquired an increasing degree of autonomy from central government including the privileges granted by a charter of Richard II in 1396.
The city underwent a period of economic decline during Tudor times. Under King Henry VIII, the Dissolution of the Monasteries saw the end of York's many monastic houses, including several orders of friars, the hospitals of St Nicholas and of St Leonard, the largest such institution in the north of England. This led to the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising of northern Catholics in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire opposed to religious reform. Henry VIII restored his authority by establishing the Council of the North in York in the dissolved St Mary's Abbey. The city became a trading and service centre during this period.
Anne of Denmark came to York with her children Prince Henry and Princess Elizabeth on 11 June 1603. The Mayor gave her a tour and offered her spiced wine, but she preferred beer. Guy Fawkes, who was born and educated in York, was a member of a group of Roman Catholic restorationists that planned the Gunpowder Plot. Its aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I, the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic aristocracy and nobility were inside.
In 1644, during the Civil War, the Parliamentarians besieged York, and many medieval houses outside the city walls were lost. The barbican at Walmgate Bar was undermined and explosives laid, but the plot was discovered. On the arrival of Prince Rupert, with an army of 15,000 men, the siege was lifted. The Parliamentarians retreated some 6 miles (10 km) from York with Rupert in pursuit, before turning on his army and soundly defeating it at the Battle of Marston Moor. Of Rupert's 15,000 troops, 4,000 were killed and 1,500 captured. The siege was renewed and the city surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax on 15 July.
Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and the removal of the garrison from York in 1688, the city was dominated by the gentry and merchants, although the clergy were still important. Competition from Leeds and Hull, together with silting of the River Ouse, resulted in York losing its pre-eminent position as a trading centre, but its role as the social and cultural centre for wealthy northerners was rising. York's many elegant townhouses, such as the Lord Mayor's Mansion House and Fairfax House date from this period, as do the Assembly Rooms, the Theatre Royal, and the racecourse.
The railway promoter George Hudson was responsible for bringing the railway to York in 1839. Although Hudson's career as a railway entrepreneur ended in disgrace and bankruptcy, his promotion of York over Leeds, and of his own railway company (the York and North Midland Railway), helped establish York as a major railway centre by the late 19th century.
The introduction of the railways established engineering in the city. At the turn of the 20th century, the railway accommodated the headquarters and works of the North Eastern Railway, which employed more than 5,500 people. The railway was instrumental in the expansion of Rowntree's Cocoa Works. It was founded in 1862 by Henry Isaac Rowntree, who was joined in 1869 by his brother the philanthropist Joseph. Another chocolate manufacturer, Terry's of York, was a major employer. By 1900, the railways and confectionery had become the city's two major industries.
York was a centre of early photography, as described by Hugh Murray in his 1986 book Photographs and Photographers of York: The Early Years, 1844–79. Photographers who had studios in York included William Hayes, William Pumphrey, and Augustus Mahalski who operated on Davygate and Low Petergate in the 19th century, having come to England as a refugee after serving as a Polish lancer in the Austro-Hungarian war.
In 1942, the city was bombed during the Second World War (part of the Baedeker Blitz) by the German Luftwaffe and 92 people were killed and hundreds injured. Buildings damaged in the raid included the Railway Station, Rowntree's Factory, Poppleton Road Primary School, St Martin-le-Grand Church, the Bar Convent and the Guildhall which was left in total disrepair until 1960.
With the emergence of tourism, the historic core of York became one of the city's major assets, and in 1968 it was designated a conservation area. The existing tourist attractions were supplemented by the establishment of the National Railway Museum in York in 1975, the Jorvik Viking Centre in 1984 and the York Dungeon in 1986. The opening of the University of York in 1963 added to the prosperity of the city. In March 2012, York's Chocolate Story opened.
York was voted European Tourism City of the Year by European Cities Marketing in June 2007, beating 130 other European cities to gain first place, surpassing Gothenburg in Sweden (second) and Valencia in Spain (third). York was also voted safest place to visit in the 2010 Condé Nast Traveller Readers' Choice Awards. In 2018, The Sunday Times deemed York to be its overall 'Best Place to Live' in Britain, highlighting the city's "perfect mix of heritage and hi-tech" and as a "mini-metropolis with cool cafes, destination restaurants, innovative companies – plus the fastest internet in Britain". The result was confirmed in a YouGov survey, reported in August 2018, with 92% of respondents saying that they liked the city, more than any of 56 other British cities.
We arrived in York at mid-afternoon, following a very busy train journey of just over 2 hours, which included a change at Sheffield. After a much needed food and toilet break, we negotiated our way out of York's massive train station and headed towards our home base for the weekend, a B&B in an old Georgian townhouse on Bootham in the Clifton area of the city, just 20 minutes walk from the station and a few minutes walk outside the historic city walls. After checking in, unpacking and taking a few minutes to get refreshed and 'de-trained', we decided to head out and dive straight into this wonderful, historic city. We arrived on a Friday and would be staying until Sunday so we already had an itinerary in mind. We a place booked on the York Ghost Bus Tour at 7.30 on Friday evening so the plan was to kill a few hours with some drinks and food, gradually working our way towards where the bus was due to pick us up, which happened to be outside the train station. For reasons that I'll later go into, things didn't quite go according to plan but, nevertheless, it was set to be a fantastic few days. Leaving the B&B, we turned left and headed straight down Bootham which leads to Bootham Bar, one of the historic stone gateways that grants entry to the city proper. Passing beneath this gateway, onto High Petergate, we were immediately entranced by York's narrow streets, exquisite architecture and quirky independent shops. It did not take long for us to fall in love with the place. It helped that our first pub was nearby. Just inside the city walls, the first pub on our list was the Hole in the Wall.
Formerly known as The Board Inn throughout the 19th century, the pub was excavated in 1816 during which a tunnel was found that led to a dungeon-like space where manacles and chains were hung. A hidden tunnel was rumoured to run to York Minster. Whilst this tunnel has never been found, it is believed that the Minster's own prison was located nearby. This is one of the many pubs in York to report ghostly activity. During the aforementioned excavations, a superstitious builder bricked up a corridor after reportedly hearing disembodied footsteps. These footsteps are occasionally still heard throughout the building and a white mist has been seen, and on one occasion photographed, in the bar area. The pub's current name is taken from a window, still in place, through which prisoners had to beg for food. Inside, the premises is certainly atmospheric. The bar is almost opposite the door, with a small lounge area in between. To the rear is a larger space for dining and drinking, with access to a rear beer garden. The decor is very much in keeping with the pub's traditional origins, with beamed ceilings and internal brickwork. The bar itself holds 5 hand pumps, 3 of which were in use on our visit. Our options for our first drink in York were Jennings Night Vision, Wainwright and Ringwood Forty Niner. The Hole in the Wall is a Marston's pub, hence the predominance of beers from their range. I went for a pint of the Forty Niner (4.9%) and Amy chose the kegged version of Hobgoblin IPA. We took our beers into the back room where we found a round table in a booth underneath artwork commemorating the Theatre Royal, which is just around the corner from here. We enjoyed our drinks, discussed our plans for the weekend and had a quick peruse of the food menu. No begging through windows required nowadays! This was already turning into an excellent evening of comfortable historic pubs and the Hole in the Wall had certainly been a good place to start and had piqued our interest for what was to come. The beer was great too!
Leaving the Hole in the Wall, we turned left and continued down High Petergate, approaching the great spires of York Minster which acts as a convenient landmark in the event that you might feel a bit lost. Continuing on, we passed a number of other pubs before we emerged in the shadow of the enormous Minster itself, gothic architecture standing proud. It's certainly an imposing and impressive sight, even if you've seen it before. A quite literal stone's throw from the Minster, in its very shadow, lay our next destination. History abounds at the Guy Fawkes Inn.
This pub is located on the very site where, in 1570, Guy Fawkes, York's most famous son, was born. His original cottage has now been incorporated into accommodation that sits at the rear of the enclosed courtyard garden. The interior of the inn is hugely atmospheric. A small bar in the corner of the first room serves a tiny lounge area, with larger rooms for dining off to one side off of a central corridor. This corridor leads through to the garden which is comfortable and allows views into the restaurant area through mullioned windows. A rear external staircase leads up to more rooms. The decor is timber floors and oak furniture and the pub is lit by candles and gas lamps to add ambience. The small bar has 6 hand pumps, mostly providing local beers. At the time of our visit the options were Black Sheep Riggwelter, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Black Sheep Best Bitter, York Guzzler and Ossett Yorkshire Blonde. I was already wowed by this place and it seemed appropriate to drink proper York beer in a proper York pub so Amy and I both decided on the Guzzler (3.6%). This was served, not just in handled glasses, but in branded handled glasses (available to purchase for £5 each, merch fans) and we carried these through to the garden where we found a table looking into the building which rose up above us. The Guzzler was delicious, far belying its low ABV. It is a refreshing golden ale that boasts dominant flavours of hops and fruit. This is another fantastic pub. We'd been in York for no more than a couple of hours at this point but we were already thoroughly enjoying ourselves. With the history associated with this pub, it's perhaps no surprise that there is a sinister side. A dark, human-like shape has been seen flitting around the place, particularly in the rear accommodation leading to obvious speculation that the spirit must be Guy Fawkes himself returning to his childhood home. What would he make of how he is remembered each November I wonder?
As tempting as it was to stay here for another, we had another well-known York target on our list. Leaving the Guy Fawkes, we turned right and continued down High Petergate until we reached a small square where we turned right. A few yards, and a left turn, further on saw us reaching the Shambles, York's world-famous medieval shopping street with it's crooked buildings and its myriad of independent shops. We made our way down this utterly picturesque street, making mental notes of everywhere we'd be popping into over the weekend before we turned out attention to a building that sits opposite the Shambles, squatting almost menacingly. It was now time to visit one of York's most (in)famous and most haunted pubs, the legendary Golden Fleece.
The pub itself is believed to date back to at least 1503 and it is believed to be one of the oldest pubs in the city. A former coaching inn, it was owned by a former Lord Mayor of York, John Peckett, and his wife Alice, in the early 18th century. Rebuilt in the 19th century, the building was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1983 and is next to Herbert House, Grade I listed building (now a gin shop) which has a first floor jetty incorporated into a side passage of the pub. Despite the narrow frontage, the pub is deep with a small front bar connected to a larger rear bar by way of a narrow corridor which also includes the toilets. The higgeldy-piggeldy and disorientating layout is due to the building being constructed on stilts without any proper foundations. This has led to leaning doorways, low ceilings and uneven floors over more than 5 centuries of use. Upstairs there are 4 accommodation rooms and a separate room used for functions. I once stayed in one of these rooms, the St. Catherine's Room, and experienced some very odd events, not least of which was a distinct dislike of having my back to the bathroom door and hearing the sound of somebody moving around in the bathroom when it was definitely empty. We were both very excited to visit here, so much so that we would ultimately come back every day of our visit, but more on that later. Amy had never been here before and she was immediately blown away by the feel of the place. The atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable whilst the pub is full but you sense it takes on a completely different feel once the punters leave. The Golden Fleece has two bars, both with 5 hand pumps, and beers doubled up across both bars. Our options here were Theakston Old Peculier, Hobgoblin Ruby, Doom Bar, Hobgoblin Gold and Landlord. Amy procured us a table in the window of the front bar area, looking into the room, whilst I procured the drinks, an Old Peculier for me and a ruby Hobgoblin for Amy. We could feel the history in this place and the atmosphere is certainly unique. Whilst the pub does certainly play on its reputation, with photos of the team from Most Haunted (who investigated here) on the walls in the corridor and framed pamphlets on famous York hauntings, it's clearly done business no harm. What is this reputation? The Golden Fleece is claimed to be home to at least 7 distinct hauntings. A Canadian airman who died in one of the bedrooms during the Second World War, either through falling from a window or hanging himself, is still seen in the room in which he passed and occasionally on the street outside. The spectre of a young boy is often seen in the bar area. He died here after being trampled by a horse outside and customers often feel the sensation of a small hand trying to pick their pockets. One of the most commonly seen apparitions is that of 'One-Eyed Jack', a highwayman carrying pistols who is seen throughout the pub. The upstairs bedrooms have their own ghostly tales. The Minster Suite holds stories of crying children and a moving bed. In the Shambles Room, people have felt the sensation of someone sitting on the bed and witnessed strange lights and, in 2008, a couple left in a hurry after witnessing a candlestick move along the fireplace, apparently guided by a dark shape behind it. Dark figures have been recorded in St. Catherine's Room and this is also where Yvette Fielding heard a disembodied laugh in her ear during the Most Haunted visit. This room also boasts a room that was bricked up for 200 years for no known reason. The bricked up room is now the aforementioned, sinister feeling bathroom. Lady Alice Peckett has been seen in the room that now bares her name but has also been seen in the pub after midnight and in the Meadery room. The downstairs function room lays claim to the image of a lady running through the wall screaming as if being chased as well as the phantom of a dog. Whether this latter spook is linked to the dog skeleton that was discovered under the floor during renovation work is uncertain. It was once a custom to bury dogs or cats in the foundations of buildings as protection against evil so perhaps this dates back to this time. Needless to say, with all the reported activity, the ghostly spirits at the Golden Fleece outnumber the ones for sale behind the bar! We spent some time here enjoying our very well kept beer and some delicious fish and chips before we decided to make our down towards the station for the ghost bus tour.
Following an approximate walk of about 20 minutes or so, over the river Ouse via Lendal Bridge, we arrived with plenty of time to spare before our scheduled 7.30pm slot. This meant, of course, that we had time for another drink. Our chose destination was right next to the station entrance and actually partly inside the station itself. The only Good Beer Guide listed pub on this trip would be the York Tap.
Opened in 2010, this is a conversion of the old Victorian tea rooms at the train station. The interior design is spectacular with an ornate ceiling, Art Deco-style stained glass windows, terrazzo floors and stained glass ceiling domes, all complimenting a round central bar that serves both sides of a large room. The entrance through which we come is next to the station entrance proper with another entrance on the station platform. It is very busy when we arrive, perhaps due to the time of day and the pub's location but we do at least have plenty of time to peruse the impressive bar with its 20 (?!) hand pumps, 18 of which were in use. The selection was wide with 16 beers and 2 ciders. The full available list during our stay was as follows: Vocation Pride & Joy, Bristol Beer Factory Independence, Bristol Beer Factory Rewind, Atom Quantum State, Bristol Beer Factory Fortitude, Triple Point Dusk, JW Lees Craft Pale, Thornbridge Market Porter, Half Moon Old Forge, Thornbridge Astryd, Thornbridge Lord Marples, Thornbridge Brother Rabbit, Timothy Taylor Boltmaker, Timothy Taylor Knowle Spring, Lilley's Mango Cider and Lilley's Gladiator. With so much choice, it took me a little while to decide but I finally settled on Pride & Joy (5.3%) from Vocation out of Hebden Bridge, This is a flavoursome IPA packed with citrus hoppiness and a hint of sweetness that gives way to a mellow aftertaste. After a few minutes, we managed to find a table a short distance from the bar on raised leather seating and sat to kill some time. However, it was then that our plans went south. Amy found an email, in her spam folder, from the ghost bus company, cancelling the night's events due to staff injury. We were very annoyed and frustrated. Finishing our drinks, we went to the allotted pick up place and spoke to the driver who confirmed what we'd been told but also said that, if we rang up first thing, we might be able to rebook for the following evening. We endeavoured to do just that but, the question now was, what do we do with our Friday evening? We eventually decided that we would head back towards the B&B but stop off in a couple more pubs to round off the evening. After all, why not?
Retracing out steps, we once again crossed the river at Lendal Bridge but this time, instead of continuing on, we crossed the road and turned right, onto the street known as Lendal. On the right, we quickly identified our next port of call as being from the list. We now took a trip to Lendal Cellars.
This Grade II* listed pub sits next to the Wealden Hall, which it was constructed at the same time as. The oldest part of the building is the front, which dates back to the 1500s. A wing was added in the 17th century and this was altered in the 19th century, when the building itself was refronted. The whole interior is timber-framed as can be seen extensively in the walls and exposed beams. The building has been a pub since at least the 18th century and was known by many names including the Square and Compasses, the Mason's Arms, The Board, The Joiner's Arms and, more recently, the Angler's Arms. The pub took on its current moniker in 1994. The name is a deliberate misspelling of the local word 'snickelway', a term for a small alley or jitty, changed to avoid copyright issues, Internally, the pub is a hodge-podge of rooms, with a central bar area and a snug to one side, down a small step. Beer memorabilia, bric-a-brac and old pumpclips make up much of the wall decorations. The small, angled bar has 6 hand pumps and we were happy to be able to choose from 5 of these. Our options here were Roosters Yankee, Rudgate Ruby Mild, Revolutions New Rose, Rudgate Valkyrie and Theakston Best Bitter. Having not seen much Rudgate beer thus far during our trip, I went for the Valkyrie whilst Amy went Beavertown Neck Oil. The Valkyrie (5%) is an American style pale ale, brimming with citrus and tropical notes but with a distinctly earthy backbone. We sat at a table in the snug area, tucked away from the main bar but able to people watch out of the window. This is a strange little place. I liked it here, with its old world charm and stripped back character. This is yet another pub that claims the title of York's most haunted. The most well-reported of its spectres is that of a young girl. She has been most frequently seen sitting on the stairs watching customers come and go and the landlord's now deceased cat was known to purr around the legs of an unseen figure. The story goes that the girl was tragically knocked down and killed by a cart delivering beer and has taken up residence in the pub outside which she passed. Two different spirits have been reported in the bar area. The first is that of an old gentleman, who enters through a wall, walks across the bar area, takes a seat and immediately vanishes. An investigation has determined that there was once a door in the area through which he enters. The ghost of a man in Elizabethan clothing is also seen behind the bar, usually first thing in the morning or after closing. Despite bar staff regularly reporting sightings, his identity remains unknown. The tragic ghost of Marmaduke Buckle haunts the upstairs restaurant that bears his name. He was born crippled to a wealthy family but was tormented relentlessly by his peers until he took his own life by hanging. He is sometimes seen looking out of the window and is blamed for the mysterious opening and closing of doors and the flicking on and off of lights. Another ghost is only identified by the strong smell of lavender that suddenly appears without warning. As lavender was once used to disguise the smell of decaying bodies during the plague, perhaps there is a link to this time period. The finally entity here is neither tragic nor friendly. The cellar is home to something that regularly turns off gas taps, often with significant force, and throws objects and tools at members of staff that go down to fix the problem. Clearly, there is a myriad of activity happening here.
This is another Nicholson's pub, occupying a site that was previously 4 individual houses grouped around a central courtyard. This explains the unusual changes in floor and ceiling level in the various rooms. A seated courtyard area to the front of the pub leads through to the Georgian dining area on the left, Tudor bar straight ahead and the stagecoach bar to the right. All three areas are served by a single bar that abuts onto the wall next to the entrance. An outdoor smoking area lies to the rear. It being a Saturday, we were not surprised to see that the pub was busy with almost every table full, barring a small round one by the door. Having surveyed the beer options, I quickly got seated whilst Amy sorted the drinks. 7 of the available 8 hand pumps were in use, with a choice between Wainwright, Black Sheep Best Bitter, Purity Mad Goose, Doom Bar, Nicholson's Pale, Fuller's London Pride and Leeds Pale. On this occasion, Amy and I both went for the Mad Goose which was very good indeed. We were pleased to get a table here as it made it much easier to appreciate the layout of the place with it's multiple rooms, original features and exposed beams and brickwork. I do appreciate the effort that Nicholson's go to in looking after their pubs without detracting from the character of the original buildings. Of particular interest is an old fireplace in one of the rooms, which is the scene for a decidedly seasonal haunting. The tale goes that, in the winter months, when a fire blazes in the grate, a group of four gentlemen in colourful clothes and riding breeches materialises as if warming themselves over the flames. They are said to be very jovial, will be heard laughing and joking and disappear as quickly as they arrive.
This pub is named after a Roman archaeological site that is located underneath it. An extensive bathhouse complex was discovered and is now a museum which can be visited for a small fee. The interior has been decorated with images and designs reflecting the history, with a mural of Roman bathers and an artificial Roman style column. The pub consists of a single room with a bar slightly off centre to the left and toilets to the rear. There is also access to a beer garden through a door to one side. Seating is scrubbed wooden tables spread roughly around the perimeter of the room. There are 2 hand pumps which, whilst we were there, offered a choice between Fuller's London Pride and Hobgoblin Gold. Having not had London Pride so far that weekend, I decided to round off the trip with it and it turned out to be acceptable enough. We found a table near the door whilst we finished off our final drinks of the trip. The Roman artefacts aren't the only things that are said to remain of this place's history. Long before the bathhouse was found, buildings on this site were home to odd noises that sounded like running water, splashing or the sound of burst pipes, with no obvious source. Persistent searching by the previous owners turned up nothing. Only when the bath site was discovered, and linked to the fortress that stood just north of here, was an explanation offered. Local rumour has it that the sounds, now thought to be ancient Roman bathers, are still heard from time to time.