Built in 1877, Cathedral House Hotel was used as a hostel for inmates released from nearby Duke Street Prison. The prison held female prisoners from all around Scotland, many of them Suffragettes and political activists, who were imprisoned for their protests at living conditions.
Duke Street Prison was infamous for its terrible living conditions, and it housed some of Scotland's worst criminals.
The prison was closed in 1955 after several protests, and it was demolished in 1958 to make way for the Ladywell housing scheme, built from 1961 - 1964. The only remaining structure of Duke Street Prison is some of the boundary walls.
The last woman to be executed in Scotland, Susan Newell, was hanged at the prison in October 1923, after being found guilty of strangling a paperboy.
It is thought that the spirits of prisoners like Newell are still haunting the old prison hotel.
Cathedral House Hotel also has close links to the Necropolis, a grand Victorian cemetery located across from the hotel. Some of the rooms overlook the eerie graveyard, and it has its fair share of ghost stories too.
Many people have reported paranormal sightings and experiences in the hotel. Paranormal activity at the hotel has included a ghost which passes guests on the stairwell, two children being sighted, and giggling children heard on the top floor.
One of the most regular sightings is a ghostly presence which brushes up against people on the stairs of Cathedral House. There have also been several reports of two ghostly children being heard on the top floor of the hotel, and items of furniture have been seen to move around on their own.
One legend says that one of the condemned prisoners was gazing out from the condemned cell from which he could see only a tree. On the tree, sparrows flirted about and chirped away. He confided to his wardens (or confessor?) that he so regretted what he had done with his life and how that had led him to this place that he would be willing to trade it all to try again - in even if it was just to be 'wane ae they wee sparras'. Quite touching, but there again there were the cynics who said it was a case of 'impending execution concentrating the mind wonderfully'!
During the Cathedral House Hotel's long history, it has seen many people enter through its doors. Unfortunately, not all of those visitors have left alive. Some of the best known and tragic deaths to have occurred within the hotel have resulted in supposed hauntings.
It is told that a newly released female prisoner from the Duke Street Prison was reunited with her two young children at the Cathedral House Hotel. The woman who must have been suffering some form of mental break became distraught, believing that her children would be taken away from her once again. Sadly, her way of coping with this anxiety was to drown both of her children in one of the hotel's bathtubs. Since their tragic deaths, many have reportedly encountered the ghosts of these young children, particularly in the upstairs bedrooms where their deaths occurred. They have been seen and heard, giggling and playing by many people passing through the haunted hotel.
Another child with more mysterious origins supposedly haunts the lower parts of the hotel. This is the spirit of a mischievous little boy who is the most frequently encountered ghost at the Cathedral House Hotel. He generally resides in the main stairwell connecting the lower bar area to the hotel rooms upstairs. Many people apparently have seen him in that area and reported to feel the sensation of being touched by an unseen force. He has even been reportedly seen running through the downstairs bar area before disappearing right through a wall.