11 Haunted Places in Southend-on-Sea (Updated 2017)
Stewart | On 13, Mar 2017
Table of Contents
- Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea
- New Empire Theatre, Southend-on-Sea
- The Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea
- The Royal Terrace and Mews, Southend-on-Sea
- The Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea
- The Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea
- St Clement’s Church, Leigh-on-Sea
- Leigh Hill, Leigh-on-Sea
- The Sea Witch, Leigh-on-Sea
- Shoeburyness Artillery Barracks, Shoeburyness
- The Old Garrison, Shoeburyness
Wow, there’s actually a TON OF HAUNTED PLACES IN SOUTHEND!
Southend-on-Sea is a seaside resort on the Thames Estuary in Essex.
Its main claim to fame is its pier which is said to be the longest leisure pier in the world being over a mile long!
The town was originally the ‘south end’ of the village of Prittlewell.
It really started to grow as a tourist destination in the Georgian era.
I’ve discovered that there are actually a load of haunted places in Southend-on-Sea…
Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea
Southend’s historic pier is famous for being the longest in the world but locally it’s also infamous for being haunted…
One dark autumn night in 1992, at the end of the pier, a stunned policeman chased a shadowy figure of a tall man in a long coat until he totally disappeared into thin air…
The only way off the pier was a sheer long drop into the icy cold water of the Thames Estuary!
Horrified witnesses have also reported seeing an apparition of a man amongst the structure underneath the pier…
Sometimes he’s even seen hanging there!
In its long history a lot of people have sadly ended their lives by jumping off the end of the pier.
Another ghostly apparition reported at the pier appears at the Pier Hill end of the leisure pier.
Just where the shops and little restaurants are located there was once a flight of stairs.
In 2004 the Victorian entrance to the pier was being updated and the stairs had to be removed.
During the building work witnesses reported seeing a ghostly apparition of a woman dressed in black.
She was said to be hovering in mid-air…
Just where the old Victorian stairs used to be!
If you ask any of the owners of the nearby late night opening food restaurants they will tell you about the many stories told to them by late-night revellers who have come across a dark figure floating near to where the stairs used to be.
The infamous encounter with this ghostly apparition lead to a worker downing his tools and fleeing the site at great speed…
You see, he was engrossed in his work near the site of the old stairs when he clearly heard a woman’s voice say to him you shouldn’t be doing this.
He turn to see who was talking to him and saw the ghostly apparition of the woman dressed in black.
That’s when he quickly fled the scene, never to return!
New Empire Theatre, Southend-on-Sea
The New Empire Theatre in Southend has had many lives…
The original building dates back to 1896, then it became the Rivoli Picture House and then the ABC Cinema.
The original Empire Theatre was once called the prettiest theatre outside of London.
Sadly today it’s no so pretty.
But you’ll be happy to know it has a few ghostly tales to tell!
In its early days the theatre was a music hall.
Now there’s a sad story which dates back to this era about a guy called George.
Tragically George committed suicide by jumping to his death from the top of the theatre’s roof…
And it’s now said that he haunts the building!
George was blamed for turning lights on and off within the building.
On one occasion it’s said that he made a huge heavy chandelier swing all by its self.
The cleaners at the New Empire Theatre where constantly seeing the apparition of George when they enter the building first thing in the morning.
But it’s was said that George only showed himself to the theatre’s staff…
No member of the paying public reported seeing him during a performance!
Today sadly the theatre is closed.
The Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea
The Grade II listed Kursaal is an iconic building in Southend.
It was opened in 1901 as one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks.
At one time it became the largest fairground in the south of England.
Well with such a long history you probably won’t be too surprised if I told you that it’s rumoured to be haunted.
In 1990s the cleaners at the Kursaal reported seeing a ghostly apparition of a lady in a green coat and matching scarf.
The ground-floor bowling area is believed to be haunted…
Maybe by the lady in green!
The lights and sound system mysteriously switched on all by themselves.
This was often witnessed by one of the Kursaal’s security guards.
On one occasion in the foyer area one of the cleaners was spooked when she heard a voice shout repeatedly at her… LEAVE ME ALONE!
Another cleaner whilst in the area of the twenty-lane bowling alley saw a solid figure of a uniformed woman in her 50s totally disappear in front of her very eyes…
She had previously heard on many occasions a phantom woman’s voice and music which was popular during the Second World War!
Vacuum cleaners being turned off, objects being moved around and dramatic temperature drops have all been reported by the poor cleaners at the Kursaal.
After its heydays visitor numbers dropped and the Kursaal went into decline.
New housing has been constructed on some of the old Kursaal complex.
In 1998 the iconic Kursaal building was redeveloped and it’s now open to the public once again.
The Royal Terrace and Mews, Southend-on-Sea
The 18th century Royal Terrace is one of the oldest streets in Southend.
It’s situated overlooking the Thames Estuary.
Originally it was called Grand Terrace but changed to Royal Terrace after the Prince Regent’s wife, Princess Caroline stayed there in 1803.
In 1870, George Martin was staying at one of the houses in Royal Terrace…
One dark night, he heard a loud bang and the temperature in his room dropped dramatically.
In the dim light of his room he saw a pair of eyes staring at him, he called out… WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT?
But the ghostly eyes just simply vanished into thin air.
The next night the exact thing happened again.
But, this time an unhealthy looking face appeared before quickly vanishing into the night again.
It’s believed that the apparition George’s witnessed was the ghost of a person who had died in the room some twenty years earlier of a strange disease… probably leprosy!
On the corner of Royal Terrace and Royal Mews is a red-brick building called Clifton Court…
In 1966, a young couple witnessed some paranormal activity whilst living in the building.
One night they saw a grey shape appear at the end of their bed only to quickly disappear leaving the room freezing cold.
About a couple of months later, in the early morning, the ghostly grey shape once again visited them.
This time they could make out some facial features but the ghostly apparition quickly vanished into thin air when they challenged it leaving an unearthly smell in the room.
Feeling spooked, the frightened couple called a priest in to exorcise the room but they never really felt at ease within their home…
Shortly afterwards they left Clifton Court for good!
Around 1770, stables were built for the large mansions of the Royal Terrace.
These stables were later developed into mews cottages.
In 1988, a new owner moved into one of these mews cottages.
It needed a lot of renovation work to make it habitable.
During the renovation work, one of the internal walls was knocked down revealing a small hidden room…
To everybody’s horror, a partly clothed skeleton of a man draped over a cart wheel was discovered!
The police were called to investigate but could not shine a light on the identity of the mysterious skeleton.
Some people assumed it was the old man who once lived at the property.
Well, having a bricked up skeleton in your home, you probably can guess what I’m going to tell you next…
Yes, it’s said the mews cottage was haunted by an old man with a walking stick!
One day the owner’s wife saw his ghostly old apparition on the stairs.
There’s also talk of another ghosts which is said to haunt the cottage.
It’s been reported that the temperature in the building drops dramatically and a dark black shadow appears from nowhere!
One more paranormal activity which has been witnessed to takes place outside the mews cottage every Christmas Eve is that of the phantom coach and horses.
More than one terrified witness has experienced the sounds and smells of a phantom coach and horses clip-clopping on the cobbles and heading off in the direction of Southend High Street!
The Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea
The Cliffs Pavilion is a theatre situated on Station Road in Westcliff-on-Sea.
In the 1930s the original Cliffs Pavilion was going to be an art deco theatre seating up to five hundred theatre goers.
Building work began but unfortunately the Second World War came along which resulted in the further construction of the building being put on ice.
Sadly in 1959 the construction which was going to be the art deco theatre was levelled…
But a new Cliffs Pavilion was built in its place and opened in 1964.
It’s said that a worker tragically died on site during the building of the new Cliffs Pavilion in the 1960s.
He’s ghostly spirit is believed to haunt the Maritime Room on the lower floor of the theatre.
And probably the stage area too…
You see in that area strange unexplained knocking noises and sudden temperature drops have been reported by members of staff!
The Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea
The Palace Theatre is located on London Road in Westcliff-on-Sea.
The Palace Theatre has had many names over the years.
It was originally built in 1912 when it was known as the Palace of Varieties and seated up to fifteen hundred people.
Since those early heydays the theatre has had its fair share of ups and downs.
Financial problems resulted in it having to close its doors to the paying public on quite a few occasions.
Today it’s merged with the Cliffs Pavilion and is under the guidance of Southend Theatres.
One of the ghosts which is said to haunt the Palace Theatre is affectionately referred to as George.
He’s said to be a former manager of the theatre in 1912 who tragically hung himself from the fly-floor due to financial difficulties.
Shocked witnesses who’ve seen George’s apparition also tell of getting a strong whiff of Old Holborn tobacco…
Nowadays smoking is no longer permitted in the building!
Spooked visitors to the theatre have reported feeling an icy hand on their shoulder when seated.
This usually occurs when the seat behind them is empty.
Some theatre goers have had a shock of their lives when they suddenly see that the spirit of ghostly George is sitting right next to them also enjoying the performance.
Local paranormal groups love investigating the Palace Theatre…
They’ve recorded lots of paranormal activity in the old theatre coming to the conclusion that there are many more ghosts within the building other than that of George.
A white woman, a Victorian clergyman, a young Irish woman and a woman in a red evening gown singing on the stage are just some of the spirits which have come to light at the Palace Theatre!
St Clement’s Church, Leigh-on-Sea
The 15th century St Clement’s Church in Leigh-on-Sea is thought to be haunted…
Witnesses have seen small flickering lights at the church in the middle of the night.
Some people say that these strange lights are the souls of drowned fishermen!
Leigh Hill, Leigh-on-Sea
Leigh Hill has quite a few haunted tales to tell…
First, there’s an old 18th century house called Prospect House where the shocked owner witnessed a ghostly apparition of a short elderly man who was wearing breeches, stockings, a long coat and heavy shoes.
What’s more, his hair was tied back in a braid!
He simple vanished right in front of her very eyes leaving an unpleasant fishy odour behind him.
Maybe he was an old sea captain?
There must be something about Leigh Hill…
You see the house next to Prospect House is also said to be haunted by a doctor who had once lived there in the early 20th century!
A terrified owner of another 18th century house on Leigh Hill reported witnessing a ghostly apparition in her house too…
She saw a spirit of a woman dressed in an old threadbare blue muslin gown float across her landing!
There was once a nice restaurant on Leigh Hill in an old three-storey building…
Well the building is said to be haunted by a young woman who was deserted by her sailor lover.
After having her heart broken it’s said that she locked herself away on the top floor of the building and lived as a lonely recluse!
In 1990 the restaurant owner reported paranormal activity happening within the building such as unexplained crashes and bangs and lights being mysteriously turned off by their own accord.
All this spooky activity he blamed on the lonely spirit of the woman on the top floor.
A famous psychic was asked to investigate the building’s paranormal goings-on.
She picked up on a couple of unhappy spirits…
The spirit of a domineering mother who was hit and killed by a tram and the spirit of her suicidal daughter who killed herself by jumping from the top floor window after she found out about her mother’s death!
To this day a ghostly apparition of a lonely woman is still occasionally witnessed peering out of the window on the top floor of the old building.
The Sea Witch, Leigh-on-Sea
Between 1850 and 1870 a lady called Sarah Moore became known by the locals of Leigh-on-Sea as the Sea Witch…
She was said to curse unborn children so that they were born with a hare lip, cause storms at sea and cause local children who tried to break into her property to spontaneously combust!
The old local legend of the Sea Witch says that she cursed a local skipper when he refused to give her any of his hard earned cash…
You see, she often begged the sailors for pennies whilst she was down on the wharf promising them a fair wind!
Unfortunately, whilst at sea the cursed fisherman was caught in a sudden severe storm which took him by surprise.
Whilst in the storm he hacked away at his ship’s rigging with an axe three times cursing Sarah Moore all the time…
Suddenly the storm mysteriously stopped!
The strange thing is, on his return from sea, Sarah was found dead at the wharf with three deep gashes to her head which looked like it had been caused by an axe.
Today on Elm Road in Leigh-on-Sea there’s a pub called Sarah Moore which is named after the Sea Witch herself.
And it’s said that poltergeist activity has been regularly reported by members of staff in the pub…
Plus whenever Sarah Moore’s named is mentioned in the pub… the lights flicker!
Shoeburyness Artillery Barracks, Shoeburyness
In the early 19th century, Shoeburyness was a garrison town with a gunnery school and artillery ranges.
The town’s listed artillery barracks have a long and interesting history.
Today, these old military building have been converted into some very posh looking houses.
There was once an ill-fated house situated where the Woman’s Royal Army Corps were located during the Second World War.
This house caught fire and burnt down resulting in the tragic deaths of some of its inhabitants.
The new military buildings built to replace it were said to be haunted by the poor souls who were killed during the house fire.
Witnesses staying at the properties reported on many occasions hearing unexplained spooky laboured breathing…
And something unknown moving around the building in the middle of the night!
The Old Garrison, Shoeburyness
In Campfield Road, Shoeburyness there’s a pub now called the Old Garrison.
In the 1990s the former manager of the pub was often puzzled because he could hear unknown children playing in the pub even outside opening hours…
He discovered that when he opened the door at the bottom of the pub’s stairs, the eerie sound of the phantom children playing always stopped!
One day a terrified maintenance man refused outright to work in the bar area after he saw apparitions of ghostly children in Victorian clothing playing in there.
Another apparition often seen behind the bar by both punters and members of staff alike is that of a man wearing an old fashioned white medical coat…
The pub was originally built in 1898 as a hospital for the soldiers and their family from the nearby garrison!
Carmel King (2009) Haunted Essex. The History Press
Dee Gordon (2012) Haunted Southend. The History Press
Jason Day (2011) Paranormal Essex. The History Press
Jason Day (2012) Haunted Chelmsford. The History Press