The Worst Ghosts of 2017

It’s that time of the year when I sift through the worst ghosts that made the news this year and bring you what I judge to be the most awful of them all. By awful I don’t mean evil or terrible ghosts we should all be afraid of, but ghost stories that had me rolling my eyes. You can read previous Worst Ghosts collections by clicking here.

So, grab a cup of coffee, put your cosy winter socks on and settle in…

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#5 The Gresley Old Hall Ghost

In April 2017, my mum, brother and I took time to recreate ghost photographs taken by a ghost hunter called Stu Williamson. Williamson has a… unique approach to photographing ghosts which involves filling a room with smoke and then taking photos of the smoke.

 ‘I believe that ghosts are invisible but if you throw something at that ghost, like smoke, it sticks to the ghost.’ – Stu Williamson, 2017

His theory was that the ghosts could use the smoke to somehow form themselves. Indeed, Williamson claimed that while on a ghost hunt at Gresley Old Hall he used this technique and successfully photographed the ghost of a beautiful French woman.


However, when we replicated the photos we were able to easily capture many similar “ghost faces” in smoke being blown around. This is because such ghosts are simply illusions in the shapes made by the smoke moving. (Stevens, 2017.)

#4 The Black Monk of Pontefract

This is a ghost that- ironically -won’t die. On my podcast, The Spooktator, we seem to talk about this ghost all the time, to the point that we’re becoming really conscious of the fact that maybe we’re obsessed. Or, maybe it’s just that the Black Monk of Pontefract is in the. press. allthe. timeNO. REALLYALL. THE. TIME!

The fact is that when the alleged haunting of 30 East Drive by the Black Monk was made famous by Colin Wilson (Wilson, 1981.), the activity at the centre of the story had already stopped and had been largely forgotten. Then the book dragged it back up, inspired a horror film, and then became the haunt of ghost hunters who pay upwards of £40 to spend a few hours there getting scared by shadows. This is just one of many haunting across the UK that make a pretty penny for companies like Haunted Happenings and all the press coverage is simply free publicity for ghost tour companies.

#3 Paul Toole’s Ghostly Burn at HMP Shepton Mallet

Speaking of Haunted Happenings…

Return visitors to my blog may recall that earlier this year, I joined Danny Robins at HMP Shepton Mallet for his podcast, Haunted. During our time there we met Paul Toole – a tour guide for the prison. Toole claims that during a tour earlier this year, he was burned by the ghost of an American serviceman who was executed at the prison.

In all likelihood, Toole was actually just burned by a cigarette being smoked by an alive human. The burn was featured in the press as proof that ghosts haunt the prison and that if you partake on a tour or a ghost hunting event (run by Haunted Happenings) you might bump into one. Yet, as I outlined in my blog post about my visit to HMP Shepton Mallet, not all here is what it necessarily seems…

#2 The Stanley Hotel Ghosts

Oh look. Someone caught a ghost in a *yawn* photograph taken at *yawn again* The Stanley *yawn* hotel. The Stanley Hotel plays host to ghost hunting events and Halloween events every year. There’s a pretty penny to be made for those who own allegedly haunted buildings, you know.

click to view full-size

Which is why it’s in their best interests to keep up the illusion that spooky stuff is occurring. The photographer claims that the latest photograph shows two ghostly figures on the staircase among guests about to take part in a ghost tour.

Would it shock you to discover that the ghosts are just people moving up the stairs who are blurred because of the shutter speed of the camera?

Especially relevant is that fact that you can see that other people are blurry in the photo. For example.  the lady stood up in a white top, the person sitting down to her right, and the person in the bottom right of the photo. Not only this, but some journalists have added red circles to the photo in a way that gives a false impression of the size of one of the “ghosts”. I’ve outlined their head in green below for comparison:

However, according to Ben Hansen- the host of ‘Face or Faked: Paranormal Files’ -the photo isn’t a hoax and “ranks up there as one of the best photos of possible paranormal evidence I’ve seen.” (Mazza, E. 2017)

#1 Dear David

I am loathe to even write those two words because this blog is all about my work as a real-life paranormal researcher who deals with people who have real-life strange experiences. For those not in the know, I use scientific skepticism to solve mysteries (which sounds much cooler than it actually is). Dear David doesn’t fit into this at all because it’s a fictional story.

For anyone out there who is a bit shocked by this proclamation, allow me to explain. Illustrator, Adam Ellis, has been tweeting out a merry little saga about a deformed baby that’s meant to be haunting his house. Photos were shared, along with videos, tales cats being cats, mysterious items found and much more. The story is freaking some people out! It has been rightly pointed out by some that there ethical questions to be asked about this relatively-new form of storytelling where the reader isn’t sure of the authenticity of the tale, (Tate, A. 2017).

This can be an effective way of telling a good, scary story, but that’s exactly why Dear David is at the top of my list. The story is mediocre and has dragged on for too long. In the words of my Spooktator co-host, Paul, “spooky baby with a malformed head? Whatever!”

Suffice to say, the stories featured have one thing in common: they each generate free publicity for someone claiming to have paranormal evidence when they don’t.


Dunn, J. (2017) ‘Ghost hunter claims to have caught the spirit of ‘a beautiful French woman called Philippa’ on camera as he took pictures at a smoke-filled 16th century hall’ Daily Mail, 6 April [Online]. Available at (Accessed 18 December 2017)

Mazza, E. (2017) ‘Ghosts’ Caught On Camera At Famed Stanley Hotel In Colorado’ Huffington Post, 10 June [Online]. Available at (Accessed 18 December 2017)

Stevens, H, (2017) ‘The Gresley Old Hall Ghost That Wasn’t There’, Hayley is a Ghost, 27 April [Blog] Available at (accessed 18 December 2017)

Tait, A (2017) ‘“Dear David found me, I think”: the lure (and ethics) of Twitter ghost stories’ New Statesman, 24 October [Online]. Available at (Accessed 18 December 2017)

Wilson, C. (1981) Poltergeist, United Kingdon, New English Library Ltd.

This blog is supported by awesome readers via Patreon. You can pledge support from as little as $1 a month to keep this ghost floating. ❤

About Hayley Stevens 434 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

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