Stanley Palace, Chester: A Haunted History

Stanley Palace

History of Stanley Palace, Chester

Stanley Palace, formerly known as Derby House, holds a storied past that dates back to the 16th century. Built on the grounds once occupied by the Dominican Friars, this historical building lies on Watergate Street in the heart of Chester.

Stanley Palace was commissioned in 1591 for Sir Peter Warburton. He was a prominent Chester lawyer who rose to become a sergeant-at-law. And then a Member of Parliament for Chester, a judge, and a knight.

Upon Peter’s death in 1621, the ownership of this grand estate passed down to his daughter, Elizabeth. This was part of her dowry when she married Sir Thomas Stanley, who gave his name to the house. But her story took a sad turn when she passed away in 1627.

Fast-forward to the turbulent events surrounding the English Civil War, the Palace played a major role. James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby, passionately fought for the Royalist cause. But fate led him to house arrest within Stanley Palace. He would meet his unfortunate fate when he was transported to Bolton for execution.

Over time, the house fell into disrepair and transformed into ‘three shabby cottages.’ During this period, Hesketh, a sporting gentleman, hosted gatherings for race-goers from the Chester Racecourse within its walls.

In 1865, the Chester Archaeological Society stepped in to acquire the property. It later housed a boys’ school in the 1870s. It would change hands again in 1889 to the 15th Earl of Derby. In the early 1920s, the building was reopened as a museum.

1929, the ownership shifted to Chester Corporation (Chester City Council). And they continue to hold ownership to this day.

Today, the Stanley residence houses an office and meeting rooms. But it’s less popular than an ordinary workspace. Instead, it’s famed for its mysteriously changeable atmosphere. It’s marked by fluctuating temperatures that some put down to supernatural forces. Countless stories of spirits have been shared by multiple witnesses. Cementing the belief that Stanley Palace is truly haunted.

The Ghosts of Stanley Palace

Throughout the centuries, the Palace has seen its fair share of tales. But what adds a real air of mystery are the hair-raising ghost stories that surround this mansion house.

The spirits of the past seem to linger within the walls of the Palace. And ghostly apparitions have become a regular occurrence. It’s no wonder that the Stanley estate draws in both the curious and the brave. All eager to explore its history of hauntings.

The spirit of Elizabeth Warburton

Among the various spirits rumoured to reside here is Elizabeth Warburton. She’s the daughter of Sir Peter Warburton, and she’s the most well-known.

People claim to have seen her wandering through rooms and walking straight through solid walls as if trapped in sorrow. But she’s not alone in her ethereal presence…

Her former husband, James Stanley, has also been sighted roaming Stanley Palace. He was confined within its wall before his execution in the 17th century. And his apparition serves as a haunting reminder of the past.

Edie – the phantom piano player

There’s also Edie, the spirit of a woman known for her piano-playing skills. A chilling video captured her sitting at the piano while a chair moved mysteriously across the room. It moved as if guided by an unseen force. It’s said that she plays the piano to her supposed lover.

So, when visiting the Palace, don’t be surprised when you hear the piano playing, but no one’s there…

The girl on the stairs

Perhaps the most eerie spectre of all is the little girl’s ghost. She’s been spotted lying on the stairs as if she had fallen from the upper storey. Witnesses have even described seeing a blue light arising from her body. Floating towards the ceiling before both the light and the girl vanished.

Other spooky encounters at Stanley Palace

The spirits of Stanley Palace are as diverse as its history. Unexplained sounds of banging, children crying, and phantom footsteps are commonplace here.

But that’s not all: another mysterious figure adds to Stanley Palace’s ghostly ensemble. A man dressed flamboyantly in gold and white attire has been glimpsed. He appears for a fleeting moment before vanishing into thin air.

Children may roam these haunted halls, too. The caretaker has reported hearing the unmistakable sounds of children laughing and playing – even when the building is empty!

The Spooky Evidence of Stanley Palace Hauntings

1. Ghostly children on the stairs.

Stanley Palace’s security camera captured a chilling image in June 2014 when team members from Sefton Paranormal explored the mansion. They claim that the footage reveals the presence of ghostly children on the staircase, gazing over two investigators seated nearby.

While some believe it to be compelling evidence of the supernatural, sceptics say it might be dust or something else entirely.

Pamela Robinette, one of the co-founders of Sefton Paranormal, has some thoughts too. She said, “If you look closely, you can see her facial features as she turns her head, and her hair looks like it’s rolled.” Spooky, right?

2. The sounds of a piano and footsteps.

Another piece of compelling evidence is when the Haunted Hunts team captured an eerie video in the dead of night in August 2016. They set up cameras and EVP recorders in the mansion home, which was completely empty then.

What they recorded was hair-raising: eerie piano keys being pressed and creepy disembodied footsteps echoing through the halls.

The Haunted Hunts team, baffled by the unexplained sounds between 3:30 am and 8 am, reported that they have ‘no explanation for this incredible footage.’ They ruled out that the mansion house doesn’t suffer from mice or rats that could possibly run across the keys, leaving the mystery wide open.

3. Ghoulish encounters during a five-hour vigil.

To uncover the truth behind Stanley Palace’s haunted reputation, Paranormal investigators from Alius Sanctus and 15 volunteers conducted a five-hour vigil. And the outcomes were eerie, to say the least…

Hooded figures on the staircase and a ghostly woman appearing in a mirror are just some phenomena caught on camera.

The Alius Sanctus Team were armed with an array of ghost-hunting equipment. They had K2 meters, temperature guns, energy rods, motion sensors, and an Ouija board to hand.

As the night unfolded, they spoke with multiple spectres, including one near a piano. This may be Edie!


How can visitors explore Stanley Palace?

Visitors interested in experiencing the ghostly history of the Stanley estate can explore it through guided tours and paranormal investigations. Several tour companies, such as Haunted Rooms, offer guided ghost-hunting tours that delve into the mansion’s rich history and share chilling ghost stories.

What will I need for a ghost hunt at Stanley Palace?

If you’re a thrill-seeker with a penchant for the paranormal, the Stanley mansion may be your next big gig. But you’ll need some essential equipment before you embark on a ghost hunt. You can check out our guide on how to catch more paranormal evidence with the best ghost-detecting tools!

Where can I go ghost-hunting?

As well as Stanley Place, you can go ghost-hunting at Mayer Hall, Croxteth Hall and the Old Gala House.


Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!