Britain’s most haunted places – and how to explore them
Dare you visit our darkest, most haunted corners? From playful poltergeists to headless queens, Britain’s oldest houses and landmarks are (legend has it) brimming with ghosts. Whether you’re an avid ghoul-hunter or an ardent sceptic, these spooky tours, creepy pubs and infamous hotels will certainly send a shiver down your spine…
Hampton Court Palace, Richmond
For more Tudor terrors, head to Hampton Court Palace. King Henry VIII has been spotted here. You may hear Catherine Howard’s chilling screams or even see Jane Seymour in the shadows. In 2003, they were joined by a new ghoul, the ‘Skeletor’: he was caught on CCTV opening a door but then disappeared without a trace.
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
Looming over its namesake town, the ruins of Whitby Abbey inspired Bram Stoker to write the tale of Dracula, and you don’t need much imagination to see why. Maybe you’ll witness the spectre of St Hilda peering from a window, or the wails of Constance de Beverley, an imprisoned nun? Popular ghost walks depart from a nearby graveyard…
Margam Castle, Port Talbot
If you hear children giggling at Margam Castle, you’re in trouble. Apparently, they love to lurk in doorways and levitate objects – while the murdered gamekeeper screams with rage, and an old blacksmith roams the grounds. So much fun! On its Paranormal Night events expect sightings of floating orbs are ‘abundant’ - you have been warned.
Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire
Have you seen Muriel Calder? You can’t miss her: she has long brown hair, a blue dress – and no hands. So we’re told, this Cawdor Castle heiress was murdered by her father in the 1700s, after she was caught cavorting with a rival clan member. Perhaps you’ll see her in an upstairs window, looking out for her lover…
Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Always dreamed of meeting royalty? Hopefully you’ll bump into Anne Boleyn at Blickling House, as she wanders the corridors with her severed head. On 19 May, the anniversary of her death, ghost hunters gather at the estate’s gates: legend has it, she can be seen arriving at her birthplace in a carriage pulled by headless horses.
Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh
Edinburgh certainly has a few grisly secrets around its aging cobbled streets but Mary King’s Close is its darkest. This underground city is supposedly overrun with ghouls: plague victims, phantom pipers, prisoners of war and even a headless drummer. If you’re brave enough for a guided tour, don’t forget to bring a doll for Annie, its resident ghost-child…
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
Is it a giant fox, an escaped zoo animal, or something more sinister? While you’re hiking on Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor, try not to dwell on The Beast. This huge panther-like cat has been spotted some 60 times over the years, with yellow eyes and insatiable hunger for livestock. In 2016, a set of big paw prints were spotted in nearby St Austell.
Maybe you should think twice before visiting Pluckley. It looks lovely, but it’s actually Britain’s most haunted village, plagued by a shrieking man, a woman who set fire to herself, and a highwayman who appears at ‘Fright Corner’ – to name but a few. A drink at the Black Horse might soothe your nerves, but beware, you maybe sharing your pint with a ghost or two.
Dare you stay in these ghostly hotels?
Cathedral House Hotel
Overlooking Glasgow’s Necropolis graveyard, Cathedral House Hotel was once a ‘halfway house’ for Duke Street Prison. Its dead inmates have stuck around, moving the furniture, playing pranks and whispering to guests.
Craig y Nos Castle
Want to party with poltergeists? Join a seance to chat with the spirits? Craig y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons is full of opportunities to spook yourself silly. It was once a sanitorium, and has been running ghost tours for over a decade.
If its taxidermy animals don’t give you the creeps, the Drovers Inn’s ghoulish stories certainly will. From dead children and ghostly lights, to a frozen family at the foot of your bed, this Loch Lomond hotel isn’t quite as serene as it looks.
Feeling fearless? Join a ghost-hunting tour of Northumberland’s Chillingham Castle, before bedding down in this medieval fortress for the night. With a little luck - or maybe not - you’ll meet its woman-in-white in the pantry, and witness the spooky voices in the chapel.
St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire
At 800 years old, St Briavels Castle – now a YHA hostel – has seen it all. But its gatehouse still holds horrible secrets: visitors often report a chilling atmosphere, and its walls bear the scars of graffiti carved by long-deceased prisoners.
Paranormal pints: Britain’s spookiest pubs
Pilchard Inn, Devon
It won’t just be the timbers which are shivering here. In the 1300s, the Pilchard Inn was the hideout of pirate Tom Crocker, who was eventually hanged for smuggling. Legend has it, he appears on the August anniversary of his death.
Stag Inn, Hastings
With its mummified cats, a murdered sea captain in the cellar, and ghoulish girl dressed all in white, The Stag Inn isn’t for the faint-hearted. Ask the bar staff about the secret underground tunnel, if you dare.
Adam and Eve, Norwich
The spirit of Lord Sheffield lives on at the Adam and Eve, where he likes to run his fingers through customers’ hair! He was murdered here in 1549, and the pub is a favourite of ghost hunters.
The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Abergavenny
Welcome to the most haunted pub in Wales. While it serves a great pint, Abergavenny’s Skirrid Mountain Inn is best known for its creepy footsteps, slamming doors and whispering voices.
Ye Olde Starre Inne, York
This historic York pub is popular with both the living and dead. Its cellar was a Civil War mortuary, which explains the blood-curdling screams – while two ghost cats are often seen around the bar.