Its the late 18th Century, York Minster's bells are tolling midnight, and a frightened old man is thumping his cane against the wall to ward off thieves. Thud, thud, thud. At least, that was the case before he died. Now, however, the source of the noise is not so clear?
Thud. Thud. Thud.
The house is deserted. The old man long gone. There's only one explanation: ghosts
The World's Most Haunted City
This is one of many stories to contribute to York being named 'the most haunted city in the world' by the Ghost Research Foundation International, in 2002.
Since then, the city's 'ghost walk' industry has exploded in popularity. There are now at least seven tour company's competing to scare and entertain visitors in its spooky centre. One duo, however, have taken a very different approach to York's ghostly heritage.
York Ghost Merchants
In 2019, Angus McArthur and David Bloodworth (yes that is his real name) became co-founders of the Sorrowful Guild Of Master Ghostmakers. They had decided to do one better than simply telling stories about ghosts; they were going to sell the ghosts themselves.
Together with Bloodworth's wife, Wendy Dent, they set up shop in a charming former bakery on York's famous Shambles and began crafting their own unique take on the spirit world.
And their take was... well, a spin on the classic bedsheet with two holes for eyes.
The Ghosts Of York Ghost Merchants
The ghosts are made from materials that Bloodworth and McArthur wish to keep a trade secret. What isn't a secret, however, is the joy and plafulness they put into their creations.
From the classic wood-fitting of the shop, to their Edwardian dress-sense, to the colourful ghosts themselves, the fun they have with their novel concept is visible for all to see.
And where this is most evident is in their backstory. They claim to be the latest in a long line of ghostmakers, the Guild Of Sorrowful Master Ghostmakers dating back to the building's inception in 1780, and York's tradition of ghostmaking predating this by another 500 years, to pilgrims who would buy York ghosts to protect them from evil.
The York Ghost Merchants Experience
In these tales, Bloodworth, McArthur and Dent expound upon something vital in the tradition of ghost stories: that they are fun. The duo realise that they are not just selling objects, but an entertaining time, much like the ghost tours that walk the streets outside their shop.
'People want an experience when they come shopping,' Angus told the Yorkshire Post, in an interview last year, 'otherwise they'll buy stuff online. They want a unique product too, otherwise they'll go on Amazon.'
And an experience is exactly what you get when you visit their York ghost shop. The place is full of ghosts and spooky imagery, there is a miniature train to deliver deathly models into the warm hands of their new owners, and Bloodworth, McArthur and Dent even have plans to host storytelling nights at the shop.
Much like York Castle, this is one York highlight that it would be haunting to miss.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Treasure Hunts in York - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of York.
Want to read more about unconventional shops? Try our articles on York Chocolate Story and Chicago's Merz Apothecary.