Situated in the central of the cathedral quarter, Derby’s market place remains busy with throng of passengers and daily visitors. Although, amongst all the chaos, a throng of ghouls also find the marketplace interesting. Don’t believe us? Check out these top haunted places in Market place, Derby-
Assembly Rooms, Market Place
As in other towns, the Assembly Rooms in Derby was a popular meeting place in the 18th century, where young people danced and the elderly people played cards whilst keeping a watchful eye on their offspring. The aim of an assembly was to bring all sorts and classes of people together harmoniously, but in Derby this was not to be, certainly not around 1714 as there had evolved two very separate assemblies: one at the corner of the Market Place and Full Street for the gentry of the county and one for the lesser mortals of the town. This second assembly was situated at Moote Hall or meeting place, part of which still exists, although now incorporated into the modern facade of the Derbyshire Building Society on the corner of the Market Place and Iron Gate.
A bizarre incident happened there on the night of 5 December 1745. People had come from far and wide to a reception held there for Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who had arrived in Derby on his way to take the English crown. The crush of people was so great that a table bearing the Royal Standard was overturned and the standard was broken. This was considered a bad omen by many of the prince’s army and, although the decision was taken on military grounds alone, following that fateful reception the order was given for the retreat of the Highland army back north. There eventually followed, of course, the Battle of Culloden, the slaughter and transportation of hundreds of Scots, the burning of their homes, the killing of their cattle and eventually, the Highland Clearances.
A county assembly had been built in Derby in 1714, and an even larger building was erected on the Market Place in 1763. This was badly damaged by fire 200 years later and a much larger Assembly Rooms, opened in 1977, now occupies the old site on the Market Place, including the site of the Duke of Newcastle’s house, where King Charles I stayed in 1637. The modern Assembly Rooms complex still provides entertainment for Derbyshire people as well as playing host to national exhibitions and sporting events.
According to many people, the present building is haunted. Mick Taylor, the house manager, was in the building at 3am one morning, standing in the concourse with his back to the Darwin Suite. Also present was another member of staff. Mr Taylor turned around – why, he did not know – and saw an elderly lady dressed in Victorian costume. She appeared to have no legs and seemed to be floating. He alerted his colleague, who also turned around, and both witnessed the figure gliding across the floor before disappearing.
On many other occasions, security guards have seen what appeared to be a ring of children dancing in the Darwin Suite and have often reported the eerie sounds of laughter when there is no one in the building.
The new Assembly Rooms were built between 1973 and 1977. As the footings and foundations were being installed a builder reported seeing what he believed, along with several work colleagues, to be the remains of an old Viking ship, and of course this is quite feasible as the site is close to the River Derwent. He reported the matter to his superiors but was told that because of a penalty clause in the contract, the work had to be finished on time and so hundreds of tons of concrete were poured over the remains of what might have proved to be one of Derby’s most important links with the past.
Guildhall Catacombs, Market Place
Beneath Derby’s Guildhall is a labyrinth of tunnels and catacombs. One of the tunnels used to link the old police lock-up in Lock-Up Yard to the Assize Courts which were at that time in the Guildhall. Many prisoners have trudged along those dark, dank tunnels from the lock-up to the courts, where they were sentenced, and then trudged back into the lock-up to be then taken away to be executed, transported, or imprisoned.
One such person who made the mournful journey through those tunnels was Alice Wheeldon, from Peartree. In 1917 it was alleged that she had plotted to murder David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister. She was arrested in Peartree Road, Derby, taken to the lock-up and eventually tried at the Assize Courts.
People say that they still hear ghostly footsteps along those tunnels. Perhaps it is those of Alice Wheeldon, who although imprisoned, was later found to be innocent. The whole story was apparently fabricated by the British Government because Alice Wheeldon was hiding Conscientious Objectors – men who did not wish to fight as soldiers- in World War One.
She was later released from prison and lived as a recluse in Derby until she died and was then buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in the town.
Also within the Guildhall catacombs, the ghost of a little boy has been seen, dressed in rags. He often wanders through the tunnels and has been seen by workmen. They shout at him, thinking that he is trespassing, but then he disappears and although thorough searches are undertaken, no sign of the boy can be found.
Royal Bank of Scotland, Market Place
Ghost hunters have often suggested that there may different types of ghosts. Some maybe mischievous poltergeists, others tormented souls unable to rest. Whatever the reason is for the haunting of the Royal Bank of Scotland, it remains unknown and only came to light in recent times.
Previously to the Royal Bank of Scotland standing on the corner of the Cornmarket and the Market Place there had been no reports or rumours of any ghostly activity in the area.
However when the corner buildings were demolished in the early 1970’s the local media reported that a workman had encountered a boy dressed in ragged clothing sitting in what remained of one of the cellars.
When asked what he was doing there the boy replied, “I’ve come from the inn”.
The workman ran to fetch his colleagues but when he returned the little boy had gone, although there had been no way he could have passed the workman without being noticed and no other exit route.
Soon after the boy began to reappear on a more regular basis both in the now-erected Royal Bank of Scotland and in the Acropolis Café on the other side of the building. This time unexplainable noises and objects moving by their own accord accompanied his return.
It is thought that the inn he had referred to was the Tiger Inn which remains today, but had once taken up a far larger area. Wherever the ghostly child comes from, and wherever he returns to remains a mystery. Maybe a mystery that will never be solved.