Liverpool’s Central Library is a complex set of buildings, some of which are grade II listed and others due for demolition and replacement.
The library’s eldest building is the William Brown Library and Museum, which was extended in 1879 to the Picton Reading Room and then the Hornby Library in 1906.
Central Library is part of the William Brown Street conservation area. This area includes the unusual St John’s Gardens and St John’s Church.
St John’s Church was designed by Thomas Litoller and construction started in 1767 in an area which was once used as the general burial ground of a small mortuary chapel. St George’s Hall‘s west elevation backs against the Church.
St John’s Gardens was conceived as an area to display art to the public. As such it contains a number of monuments; Balfour Monument, Regimental Monument, Gladstone Memorial, Nugent Monument, Lester Monument, Forwood Monument and the Rathbone Monument.
Witches and witchcraft
The father of modern-day Wicca Gerald Gardner was born in Liverpool. Gardner (1884 to February 12th, 1964) authored the famous Witchcraft Today, a book which helps revive public attention in Wicca and Witchcraft in 1954.
In his life, Gardner used the craft name Scire, acted as High Priest of the Bricket Wood coven and met Aleister Crowley who announced Gardner as being able to perform the rites of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
Gerald Gardner travelled often and did not stay in Liverpool, however, perhaps because of his association with the city and the gothic appearance of St John’s Gardens and the Central Library the area has been associated with witchcraft. Locals sometimes speak of a history of rites or rituals occurring in the gardens or from inside Central Library itself.
Central Library is believed to be haunted. The Picton Stacks, a separate building from the main area, actually contains an isolation ward and mortuary.
Visitors to the William Brown Library have reported the feeling of menace originating from unusually dark shadows towards the corners of the room.
A black cat with glowing eyes is sometimes seen in the International Room and the sounds of a cat screeching are occasionally heard late at night throughout the library. Whereas cats screech all the time and the reflective nature of their eyes often result in a glow like an appearance some occult commentators have noted the connection between witches and demonic familiars which often take on a cat-like appearance.
The names Sal or Sally have been reported by more than one psychic while in the library. One theory links the name to a missing librarian, murder and possible demonology.
The mortuary is, of course, strongly associated with death and deaths. Stories of demonic rats or ghosts remaining near the autopsy slab remain are often shared by visitors to the historic building.
Most Haunted Live visited Central Library in 2009. The program coincided with the 45th anniversary of Gerald Gardner’s death.
In Pure Spirit
Have you been to either Central Library in Liverpool or St John’s Gardens? Did you sense anything while you were there?
People continue to confuse Wicca and witchcraft. Do you think this will change any time soon and do programs like Most Haunted help the situation?
The information in this article is commonly available online or from books like Haunted Liverpool*.
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