Since the discovery of its famous chalybeate, sulphur, and saline springs in the 16th & 17th century, Harrogate has attracted many visitors over the years.
Its mineral rich waters, once recommended by physicians for good health and a treatment for skin complaints and ailments, helped the area to grow into a wealthy Spa town during the Victorian era.
Situated across the road from the Royal Pump Room Museum, Hales Bar is the oldest pub in Harrogate with a history dating back to the 1700s. Its proximity to the springs and Royal Baths made it a popular destination and it was one of the first inns to provide accommodation for spa visitors.
With sulphur springs flowing beneath its cellar, Hales Bar (named after it’s 1882 Landlord, William Hales) still boasts features from its Victorian heyday, including traditional gas lighting, decorative corbels, leather upholstered banquettes, cigar lighters…and just maybe, one or two former publicans!
Staff and visitors have reported strange activity for many years, which prompted the Harrogate Paranormal Society to investigate the location in 2010.
Incidents at the venue include:
Bottles and glasses have moved off the bar or fallen from the shelves, sometimes with a powerful spin but never smashing when they hit the floor.
Strange sounds and manic laughter
Strange bangs and knocks have been reported and staff have heard movement around the building when no one else is present. Manic laughter has also been heard on more than one occasion.
Customers have witnessed shadows walking through the bar and figures have been seen in the passageway behind.
During investigations by the Harrogate Paranormal Society, the group’s static camera caught a black shape floating down from behind an internal door. Strangely, the camera focused in on the shape as if it were a person…
Update and visit by Paranormal Pilgrim
While visiting the town in early April 2022, I made an impromptu visit to Hales Bar for an update.
Although I was unable to run a formal investigation, I did have the chance to view the property and speak with staff and locals about its history and recent activity.
There were some interesting new developments:
An orb was seen by customers and bar staff slowly moving between the bar stools
One local drinker reported feeling tugs on his coat while at the bar. As he turned around to expect someone in need of his attention, there was nobody behind him.
A member of staff told me that they had often heard the stories but only had one incident themselves – a glass fell from the shelf at the end of the bar despite nobody else being nearby. Expecting the glass to smash, it seemed to slow down before impact and land perfectly (the right side up and without damage) on the hard floor below.
The seating area to the left of the entrance seems to be a hotspot for activity. Locals informed me that they have witnessed orbs entering or leaving the seating booth and have often felt the presence of someone else sitting there.
Disembodied footsteps have been heard around the building, sometimes very close to those that hear them!
A full apparition of a young woman has been seen walking between the bars. Unaware of the environment or those around her, this could be a residual haunting.
During a performance by one of the live bands, multiple witnesses (including staff and band members) saw a large clear orb move across the stage area.
Hales Bar is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, and I would like to thank the staff and regulars for making me feel so welcome and sharing their stories!
If you do visit, please respect the establishment and enjoy a drink or meal while there.