Staff at Sofa Workshop on Watergate Street say they have seena shadowy figure moving across the building’s17th Century floors. The building was also part of a 2010 investigation into paranormal activity in the city
Staff at a city centre furniture store have been well and truly spooked after they reported seeing a ghostly figure haunting the historic 17th Century building.
The Watergate Street building, which now houses bespoke upholstery store Sofa Workshop, formed part of an investigation into paranormal activity in the city lasting several weeks back in 2010. And it seems investigators were on the right track after staff reported seeing a ghoulish shadow lurking around the top floor of the Grade I-listed building.
Lizzy Westonhas worked at the store for more than 21 years and has also written a short book all about its history.She said: “Myself and some of the other staff here are absolutely convinced that we’ve got some kind of ghost in the shop.
“A few of the team have seen a small shadowy figure moving across the upstairs gallery within the shop and we can’t find a logical explanation as to what it may be. On top of that, myselfand other staff have felt a presence and having the sensation that we are being watched by something supernatural.We all get the impression that it’s a happy spirit, but it’s still very spooky!”
Often described as the best preserved medieval town house in Chester, the building dates back to 14th Century and was formerly home toa man by the name of John Leche, whose family coat of arms – which features a snake and a hand – can still be seen above the fireplace today.
Lizzy believes the unexplained phenomenon could be the spirit of a young boy, who may have died in the 18th Century when the building was a public house called The Hand and Snake.
During that time one of the rooms in the building – which can still be seen today – was used as a powder room, and it’s believed this would have been occupied by young boys, who would sit behind a small hole in the wall powdering the wigs of the gentry that visited.
According to Lizzy, the boys would havebeenmade to use arsenic to kill off any bugs inside the wigs,but the poisonous nature of the substance may have resulted in many of them dying after inhaling the powder.
“I do think it could be the spirit of a small boy from the 18th Century who may have died when this building was a pub,” she added.“This was a period when gentry wore wigs, white powder and beauty spots on their faces and it was easier to have these wigs powdered than washed, but the stories I’ve heard about the buildingsuggest it may have caused the death of a few young boys.
“One of the former residents that lived above our shop also told me that she used to hear the sound of a small boy from time to time playing with what sounded like wooden toys. She’d been out to checkwhat the sounds were but never found anything to explain them.”
The history of the building has also been brought to life this yearthrough Talking Walls – the history and heritage project created by CH1ChesterBID. A small plaque that hangs underneath the Leche family crestin the store can be scanned with a smartphone, which willreveal the story of its past via a phone call.
For more information about CH1ChesterBID’s Talking Walls project, visit www.talkingwallschester.co.uk