10 Most Haunted Workhouses

June 29, 2020 6:00 AM
Workhouses were found at a grim time in British history, they sprung up across the UK in response to the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and housed the poorest men, women and children in society, often in appalling conditions.

With so many souls living, dying and even being born in workhouses, where they endured gruelling labor, misery and suffering, it's no wonder that today the remaining workhouses around the country are said to be so haunted.

10. Bron Y Garth Hospital, Penrhyndeudraeth

Bron y Garth Hospital, Penrhyndeudraeth


A former hospital and workhouse in Penrhyndeudraeth, North Wales which has been closed since 2009. The eerie building still has many of its fixtures intact from its time as hospital, and original features like the vagrants cells of the workhouse still remain.

The buildings have been left empty and decaying for over a decade. The only visitors to the dark corridors and empty rooms over the last few years have been the lesser horseshoe bats who live in the building, and teams of local ghost hunters. Paranormal activity ranges from doors opening and closing on their own, dark shadow figures, unexplained knocks and bangs, phantom footsteps and disembodied voices.

9. Londonderry Workhouse, Londonderry


Situated in the Waterside off of Glendermott Road in Derry, the building now known as the Waterside Centre today houses a museum and library, but it was once part of the city's workhouse and was built to accommodate 800 local paupers.

At one point in its life the building became a hospital, and it seems that this is when most of the ghost stories started. One patient woke up in the night to find a woman dressed in white near her bed, but after placing an extra blanket on her bed, the woman vanished into thin air.

But the workhouse's best known ghost is the Blue Guardian, a female spirit who is said to be a carer of children dating back to the building's days as a workhouse, although looking after children in a poor house often meant dishing out harsh punishment. In death she's said to wander the corridors overcome with feelings of remorse for the way she dealt with the young inmates.

8. Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse, Dereham


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse is now a popular museum, but it opened as a house of industry in 1777. It housed the poor in exchange for labor on the farm. It was later converted into a workhouse and housed the poorest of the area's population until 1948. Following its closure it was used for a time as an old people's home, before coming the tourist attraction we see today.

The paranormal activity at the former workhouse ranges from unexplained noises throughout the building, especially in what was once the punishment cell, where Harriet Kettle is the best known former resident, as a young girl she spent a great deal of time locked inside in solitude and darkness.

7. St. Thomas Hospital, Manchester

Stockport Workhouse
Photo: © Jaggery


St. Thomas Hospital was one a workhouse, known locally as "The Grubber". It opened its doors in 1841 to house some of Manchester's poorest families. The now abandoned building is said to be rife with paranormal activity, including a general feeling of unease, unexplained noises, reports of objects being thrown by an unseen force and even the apparition of a man. He's been spotted in one of the old offices. The mortuary is also said to be haunted by a patient who was cut open on the slab whilst he was still alive.

6. The Old Grammar School, Derby


The Old Grammar School is now a hair salon and was once Derby's Heritage Centre, but it started its life in 1554 as a boys grammar school and is built on an old plague pit. One of the most common ghost sightings here is that of a little boy, he's been seen upstairs in the dormitories and wears a leather waistcoat and has blond hair. It's been claimed that he wanders around the dormitories and has been seen to walk through walls.

5. Llanfyllin Union Workhouse, Llanfyllin

Llanfylin Union Workhouse


Although this property is technically a workhouse, set up to house the poor and those who could not support themselves in the community until the 1930s, it also had school facilities. In fact, the standard of education at this particular workhouse was exceptionally high. An 1848 report stated that the workhouse children made better progress with their education than free scholars at other local schools.

The Union Workhouse, which is slowly be developed into a community centre, is said to be haunted by the spirit of a school master. The master is most frequently seen in the building's centrepiece, an area which was original his private quarters. He's often seen looking out of the windows where he would have once been able to oversee the workhouse's four recreation yards.

Visitors have reported hearing footsteps, doors slamming, children crying, and the ghostly cries and shrieks of a classrooms full of children. There's also be claims of shadowy figures, and even the full body apparition of an old school master who is said to haunt the building.

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4. Stockport Workhouse, Stockport

Stockport Workhouse
Photo: © Jaggery


Imprisonment, isolation and fear lurk with the walls of this former workhouse in Greater Manchester, where many lost souls said to haunt. More than 20,000 people rioted at the workhouse within its first year of opening. The grim building, known as The Grubber, held their workers like prisoners, splitting families apart and forced to stay inhumane living conditions, it's no wonder there is strange paranormal activity reported.

3. Ripon Union Workhouse, Ripon

Ripon Union Workhouse, North Yorkshire
Photo: © Redvers


There's been a workhouse on the site in the North Yorkshire city of Ripon since 1776, the current building was erected in 1854.

The workhouse was the last resort for many of the poor in the area, they were forced to come to the workhouse and complete daily tasks in exchange for food and shelter. Today a museum is located in the former male vagrants section and receiving ward where there are 14 cells where these unfortunates were locked in for the night.

The oppressive and depressing atmosphere of the Victorian workhouse has been carefully maintained in order to give visitors a sense of what life there would have been like. So it's no wonder that staff and visitors to the museum have reported seeing dark shadows of inmates going about their daily chores, heard the sounds of children crying in the dark and even had things thrown at them by mischievous poltergeists.

2. Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds

Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds


Now a museum, the Grade II listed building stands on the site of a workhouse, which once housed the poor and those who could not support themselves in the community. Over the years the inmate population grew and the building was extended to accommodate them, this included a new infirmary wing to provide free health care for the sick and injured.

In 1915 the building was offered up to the War Department as part of the war effort. The main building became the East Leeds war hospital, and even played host to King George V who came to visit injured soldiers.

With so much misery and death associated with this building, it's no surprise that there are so many claims that it is haunted. With reports of poltergeist activity, a phantom doctor that's seen wandering around wearing a white coat, ghostly patients, and even dark entity.

During its time as a hospital, the amount of lives lost here would have been in their hundreds. Before 1925 the hospital staff would have been hindered by basic equipment and no electricity.

Staff and visitors have also reported hearing moaning and guttural cries in the dead of night, could these be the ghostly cries of suffering patients?

1. Thorne Workhouse, Doncaster

Thorne Workhouse, Doncaster


Originally opened as the Thorne Poor Law Union in 1830s and housing up to 150 men, women and children at its peak. With over a 100 year history of misery and incarceration, and with a former on-site morgue and unmarked graves scattered around the grounds, this is a classic haunted location.

Parts of the building have been demolished, the remaining parts have been converted to other uses and are now a popular destination for paranormal teams. There have been reports of doors and windows opening on their own. Unexplained sounds have been heard throughout the building, including reports from visitors of moaning, whispers, children laughing, and what sounded and felt like something blowing in people's ears.

There has even been multiple apparitions spotted in the building, including the ghostly image of a young girl, a well-dressed woman, and a man - sometimes described as old and always described as terrifying, who has been blamed for moving objects in the upstairs rooms.

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