Emily Oldfield meets the man behind Bristol’s Haunted and Hidden tours, John Hughes...

Bristol is buzzing with hidden histories, local legends and strange stories just below the surface. Here to reveal all things spooky and secretive about the area is John Hughes, who has been running Bristol’s Haunted and Hidden Tour for an impressive 15 years. The walk typically takes place every Friday night, departing from outside Bristol Cathedral at 8pm, at a price of just £5/£4 (NUS). 

Have you seen the city’s haunted cinema or heard about Clifton’s ghostly highwayman? John certainly is no stranger to delving into the darker side of Bristol’s history – and his 75-minute walking tour – awarded the 2017 Trip Advisor ‘Certificate of Excellence’ – takes in plenty of historical sites as well as a number of TV and film locations. Combining historical fact along with entertaining film and TV trivia is John’s signature skill, ensuring that the tour is an entertaining as well as eye-opening experience.

Haunted and Hidden Bristol

Prepare to see a whole new side to the city as the tour involves everything from a visit to a 16th century haunted house (with seven ‘haunted’ buildings on the walk in total), to being able to see where Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses fell through the bar! Bristol is one of the most popular filming locations in the UK after all, something taken well into account during John’s tour… and he’ll even share some tips on the top celebrity haunts in the city!

The Haunted and Hidden Tour is packed with information and stories that will interest audiences old and young. Whether you want to learn about some of the most haunted buildings in Bristol or see where some of your favourite shows were filmed – there is something for everyone. Little wonder then that it was voted No.1 on GWR FM'S ‘Top 20 Things to do in Bristol’ – and John also offers private walking tours, which can be arranged by contacting him directly.

Bristol Cathedral’s College Green certainly offers a stunning starting point for the walking tour, right beneath the Grade I listed building – itself consecrated in 1148 and containing a number of Decorated Gothic style features, including the magnificent windows.

So what are you waiting for? Advanced booking is required.

Haunted and Hidden Bristol

Here at Haunt Bristol, we spoke to John himself to find out more… 

Hello John. Bristol’s Haunted and Hidden tour has been running for 15 years! What inspired you to set it up in the first place?

“I did a tour of New York with an amazing guy called King Michael - instead of doing the obvious places he took us to quirky TV locations, celebrity hang-outs and just made it a more personable tour. I knew a few of the haunted Bristol places but not enough for a walk, so I spent 6 months researching the route to create the walk.”       

The tour involves a variety of content – from haunted buildings and strange sites to film locations and celebrity tales. Can you tell us a bit more about the style of the walk?

“The walk is a combination of haunted spots (of which there are 7 on the route) with the TV/film locations just to make it more interesting, especially as Bristol is growing as a major location for film and television. I also add some Bristol history and humour to make it a fun and informative night out.” 

Tell us about some of your favourite spots on the tour…

“The Odeon Cinema is iconic as the ghost there dates back to a murder in the late 1940s when the Manager was shot dead in his office… the new Screen 3 is situated where the office used to be, and his ghost has been seen in the third row!

“We also take in the haunted Rummer Hotel in the Old City, formerly a coaching Inn and a stop-off for Cromwell in the Civil War. A figure has been seen walking through the wall next to the new fireplace (in the same area as where the entrance to the stables were!) The Rummer has also featured in the TV shows Skins and Being Human.”

Haunted and Hidden Bristol

Largely exploring Bristol’s Old City, the tour incorporates plenty of historical context too. Can you shed some light on the long history of this area?

“The Old City dates back to the 1740s and St Nicholas Market has run there daily since 1743. It’s my favourite area as it was pretty much untouched 
during the Blitz, and has some amazing buildings… like the Corn Exchange where The Who, Walker Brothers, Rolling Stones etc. once played. The Corn Exchange Clock has three hands on it, as Bristol - up until the 1850s - had its own time zone: being 11 minutes behind London time with the City being west of the Greenwich Meridian!” 

Have you seen ghosts yourself in Bristol – and has there ever been a ‘supernatural’ experience on one of the tours?

“Around 10 years ago we had a legal firm sitting in the Rummer Hotel in front of the fire… and you could make out the top part of person behind them where the old stable door once was!  

“During one tour years ago in the Old City we bumped into Aidan Turner who was filming Being Human in the Old City (he played the Vampire John Mitchell).”

How often are the tours and how can people keep updated?

“The walks run most Fridays year round plus we also do private walks for groups/schools etc. on a date to suit people, all the info and contacts are at hauntedandhiddenbristol.co.uk” 

Read more

Pin it for later;

Haunt Bristol: 4 alternative places to discover in Bristol

Related

Bristol Cathedral
Cathedral/Minster
Bristol Cathedral

Much more than a fascinating building, being a fine example of a hall church, it is a centre of Bristol's history, civic life and culture.