With its long, bloodthirsty history and dreary dark weather, it's no wonder that the UK hosts an enormous number of spooky sites. Here's a list of the 13 most haunted.
Site: “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble!” Since the notorious 1612 trails, the good people of East Lancashire have remained utterly cautious of the dreaded witches of Pendle Hill. Ten alleged witches were buried beneath the hill, having been hung at Lancaster Castle. The hill has since featured on multiple television shows, including a live broadcast from the “Most Haunted” crew.
Ghost(s): The spirits of ten witches in total, all out for revenge, having been unjustly put to death by the terrified townsfolk of their time. Most famous among them is Alice Nutter, who was wealthier than her supernatural contemporaries, and chilled everyone with her silence during the trial. She was found guilty of the charge of murdering Henry Mitton by witchcraft.
Current Situation: Pendle Hill looms large and portentous above the Lancashire countryside, creepy feelings aside, it’s a lovely place for a hike, and its summit boasts an astounding view.
Site: We’ve all heard of the Tower of London. It’s most famous for harbouring the Crown Jewels, and housing prisoners for their final days, before being trotted out to face public execution – so it’s little wonder why it’s thought to be haunted. Historical inmates include Thomas Cromwell, Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes, The Cato Street Conspirators and the Kray Twins.
Ghost(s): There are a number of spirits apparently wandering the halls of the Tower of London. But the most famous is that of Anne Boleyn – estranged wife to Henry XIII, who met her end on the block. She’s often seen walking around the various rooms after closing time, with her severed head tucked under her arm. Others have spotted her staring through the window of the room in which she was imprisoned.
Current Situation: The Tower of London is one of the English capital’s most hotly attended attractions. It’s well worth a visit for a chance at spotting Anne’s ghostly reflection in the worlds biggest diamond.
Site: The Ancient Ram Inn, built way back in the 12th century, is one of the most famous haunted sites in the UK. It pretty much ticks all the boxes on the spooky checklist. Not only was it built on an ancient pagan burial ground, but it also boasts over 20 regular spectres. It’s now the UK epicentre of the ghost hunting world, with supernaturalists descending on the ground year-in-year-out.
Ghost(s): Amongst the many ghosts that patrol the rooms of The Ancient Ram Inn and it’s creepy basement is a lost little girl – allegedly killed by her mother – a rogue priestess – who can be heard wailing deep into the night – and, perhaps worst of all, a very randy male sex-spirit called an incubus, renowned for pushing unsuspecting guests onto the bed.
Current Situation: No longer a pub the Ancient Ram Inn hosts events, paranormal investigations, and "open days". Check the website the details.
Site: The Tudor-era castle of Berry Pomeroy (built all the way back in 1547), towers over the Devonshire country-side and is known to many as “the most haunted castle in the UK.” Seeing as there are over 1,500 castles across the country – each with their own resident spectres – this place must be pretty haunted, right? Let’s just say, if you’re driving past on a moonlit night, and you see the figure of a lady in one of the windows, keep on driving…
Ghost(s): There are two known ghostly tenants of Berry Pomeroy, ‘The Blue Lady’, and ‘The White Lady’, both with their own tragic stories. According to locals, the Blue Lady is said to have been the daughter of a Norman lord, who killed her child, having conceived it with her father. Apparently, the Blue Lady appears in the window of the highest tower, beckoning to passers by, luring them inside. Anyone foolish enough to go to the Blue Lady is said to fall to their death. The White Lady, often confused with her blue counterpart, haunts the dungeons of the castle, after being imprisoned there via the spite of jealous sister.
Current Situation: Berry Pomeroy Castle is now a grade II listed building, an English Heritage Site owned by the Duke of Somerset. It is possible to visit Berry Pomeroy Castle, and also to rent it out for weddings, gatherings and photo-shoots.
Site: Plas Mawr, in Conwy, North Wales, is the epitome of an Elizabethan town house. Plas Mawr translates to “Great Hall”, which is fitting as the grandeur within the building is revered all over Wales. It was built in 1585 by a man named Robert Wynn, one of the members of the Welsh landed gentry, having cost him £800 (that’s the equivalent of 16,000 days’ wages.
Ghost(s): There’s a whole sit-com’s worth of ghosts present in Plas Mawr. Over the years, staff working at the Cadw (Welsh Heritage) Site have reportedly seen, among others: a little girl clad in a white bonnet who haunts the parlour room; a ‘man and a boy’ in one of the bedrooms of the house; Dr Dick – a young doctor who, having failed to revive Robert Wynn’s wife and son, fled into the darkness of the chimney system to escape; and, most strangely, mysterious mummified cats found under the floorboards during a routine restoration.
Current Situation: Plas Mawr is a well-loved tourist attraction, open to the public all year round. Having been meticulously preserved, a visit to Plas Mawr is like stepping back in time.
Site: This enormous Norfolk estate was home to the Boleyn family, and haunted by a prominent paternal member (we’ll get to that later). Blickling Hall stately home, part of the infamous Blickling Estate, has lorded over the surrounding fields since the 15th century, when it was built by Sir John Fastolf of Caister, who managed to accrue a fortune during the hundred years war. Five hundred years later, during World War II, it was requisitioned by the RAF, used as an officer’s mess and training ground for soldiers.
Ghost(s): Having lost his two daughters to the rapacious requirements of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn’s father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, wanders the estate grounds at dawn, attempting to cross each of the grounds before the cockerel cries. There’s also the equally famous ghost of Sir John Falstofe, who served as the historical inspiration for Shakespeare’s famous tragi-comic character ‘Falstaff’.
Current Situation: Blickling Hall now serves as a Grade II listed National Trust house. Its gigantic library, its garden, and its five hundred acres of woodland, provide visitors from all over with something to marvel at.
Site: The motte and bailey style Dunster Castle, above the village of Dunster, Somerset, is one of the more imposing of haunted castles in the UK. The castle sits above a very steep hill called Tor, and the fortification dates back all the way to the Anglo Saxon period, almost a thousand years ago. It played a large part in the English Civil War, when it was besieged by the roundheads, and parliament ordered it to be partially demolished to prevent future use. It was then restored in the Victorian period, adhering to the Gothic style that was fashionable at the time.
Ghost(s): So, first, there’s the decidedly spooky stockroom that staff have been complaining about for years. According to various reports there’s a tangibly “menacing”, and “uncomfortable” mood there at all times, stock will fall off shelves without obvious reason and a mysterious man in green appears before disappearing without a trace. Then there’s the blue kitchen, where a shaken staff member reported the appearance of a disembodied foot in front of him.
Current Situation: Little remains today of the original design of the house, other than the thirteenth century gate, and the vast collection of leather tapestries, showing scenes from Antony and Cleopatra. Dunster Castle also houses a piano, once owned by the famous composer Vivian Ellis.
Site: Springhill House is a 17th century listed building the townland of Ballindrum near Moneymore, Northern Island. Though it has remained property of the National Trust since the 1950s, Springhill House has been in the possession of the Conyngham family for hundreds of years. The many heirs of the family, and masters of the household have fought in a number of different wars, before the house eventually began to decline during the early 20th century.
Ghost(s): Olivia Lennox Conyngham was the bearer of a sad story. Her husband, George Lenox-Conyngham, killed himself and Olivia had to bring up the children all by her self, tormented by the fact that she could never save her beloved husband from his demons. As far as ghosts go, however, Olivia is fairly benign; she only appears by day and shows genuine concern for children, who she prefers to appear to.
Current Situation: Springhill is considered a vitally important bit of ulster history, having preserved the legacy of the Conyngham family’s 300 year residence. The estate is open to the public most days, and boasts one of the one of the largest surviving 18th century wallpaper schemes in the United Kingdom.
Site: Ham House, in Richmond, on the outskirts of the British capital, was built during 17th century, and was home to James I, prince of Wales, and since his death, has been handed down trough a long line of Earls and Duchesses until it eventually fell into public hands. The estate suffered damage during the Blitz bomber campaigns of the Second World War, as an important aircraft factory was located nearby.
Ghost(s): Remember how I said that Ham House was handed down through a long line of Duchesses, well, one of them’s still there. Elizabeth Murray, Duchess of Lauderdale, to be precise. Elizabeth was a ruthless, Machiavellian character, who allied herself with both Charles II and Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War, allegedly poisoned one of her husbands on her way up the social ladder, and consistently took family members to court for “crossing her”. In the end, it all caught up with Elizabeth, and, having come upon financial problems, she confined herself in a single ground floor apartment until her death.
Current Situation: Whist being open to the public for tours and nocturnal ghost-hunting sessions, Ham House is also used in film and television. Used as Kensington Palace in the 2009 film, The Young Victoria and as Hailsham Boarding School in Never Let Me Go.
Site: Though one of the walls is all that remains of the original construction, Treasurer’s House, just north of York’s minster, was first established way back in the 1090s, for the minster’s first treasurer. It survived mostly untouched until the reformation, when the position of treasurer to the minster was brought to an end. In 1897, a wealthy industrialist took it upon himself to restore the house, a project that was finished in 1900. There’s also a number of ancient roman ruins uncovered in and around the house.
Ghost(s): Turns out columns and roads aren’t the only roman remnants of Treasurer’s house, it also plays host to the spirits of a small group of roman soldiers. According to the account, those who witness the soldiers are first greeted with a slow crescendoing chorus of trumpet blasts, before a group of solders led by an officer in a plumed hat and riding a cart horse, emerge from one of the walls.
Current Situation: Treasurer’s house is open to the public, people come from all over Yorkshire to look at the house’s garden, and Frank Green – wealthy industrialist’s – collection of objects brought from around the world.
Site: This Birmingham mansion is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in all of England. The property was built during the Jacobean period and, after being bought by the Birmingham Corporation, was the first historic country house to fall into municipal ownership. Like many of the buildings on this list Aston Hall was badly damaged during the English Civil War, but was subsequently renovated before being sold off to industrial pioneer James Watt, one of the key developers of steam power.
Ghost(s): Back in the 17th century, the property was inhabited by a particularly ruthless land owner and his daughter. When the daughter tried to run away with one of the servants, the father imprisoned her in the property for sixteen years, and the servant, bereft of his love, killed himself. The daughter, according to sightings, still remains inside Aston Hall to this day, and is known only as “The Grey Lady”.
Current Situation: Aston Hall belongs to the Birmingham Museum’s Trust and is open to the public during the summer months. The Hall sits just adjacent to Aston Villa Football Club’s famous ground Villa Park.
Site: The Theatre Royal, in London’s Drury Lane, could for a time claim to be London’s leading theatre thanks to its status as a patent theatre during the late 17th century. Famous actors of the era, such as Nell Gwyn and Charles Hart, performed at the West End institution on a regular basis. The Royal Theatre also rose to prominence after the Second World War, pioneering various classic musicals such as Oklahoma! (1947), My Fair Lady (1958), and Miss Saigon (1989). It’s now owned by famous composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Ghost(s): Adhering to the grand old tradition of haunted theatres, The Royal has its own crop of ghosts and apparitions. These ghosts are welcomed by superstitious actors and staff as a harbinger of good luck for upcoming performances. The most famous ghost is ‘The Man in Grey’, who appears in full 18th century pomp – complete with powdered wig, riding hat and sword. Apparently the ‘Man in Grey’ was stabbed before being walled up into a side passage, next to the royal box, where his remains were uncovered.
Current Situation: The Theatre Royal is still a fully functioning and operational theatre at the heart of London’s West End. It’s status as a haunted theatre has attracted the television’s attention, and it appeared on a recent episode of ‘Most Haunted’.
Site: This nature reserve in the Scottish Highlands, cared for by the Scottish National Trust, is – like much of the Scottish Highlands – ruggedly beautiful. It plays host to a myriad of bird species, is frequented by hikers from all over the country and revered for its startling waterfalls and cliffs. However, if you know the history it’s not somewhere you want to be lost on a dark and stormy night.
Ghost(s): Glencoe was home to a particularly dark bit of Scottish history – the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692. A troop of soldiers acting on Government orders got themselves invited to the residence of Clan Macdonald, posing as friendly visitors. During the night, with their hosts drunkenly asleep, the soldiers went about slitting their throats. According to legend some members of the Macdonald clan survived and fled into the surrounding woodland, where they remain to this day…
Current Situation: Not only is Glencoe held as one of the most picturesque hiking destinations in the Scottish Highlands, but it’s also readily utilised by various movie studios, used as the location for "The Bridge of Death" and "The Gorge of Eternal Peril" in filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as sets for Harry Potter and James Bond flick Skyfall.
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