Top Ten Haunted Places in the U.K.

Tomorrow I am going to re-post my Halloween post from last year as both it and my bonfire night articles are always very popular and many of my readers weren’t following me then but for today to get us into the Halloween mood I thought I would do an extra post today.

I’ve always believed in ghosts and even more so since I saw one when I was 15 or 16 years old.  I don’t know if you believe in ghosts, if you do then good, if not then maybe you’ll still enjoy my guide to the top 10 spooky places in Britain.  These aren’t ranked in any order and there are countless thousands of haunted sites in the U.K from old pubs to battlefields, graveyards and hospitals.  Just half a mile or so away from me is the old Leavesden Asylum, burial place of one of the suspects of Jack The Ripper.  The buildings there have now been converted into luxury apartments but there have been several reports of ghosts there including by none other than an English Premier League footballer who played for Arsenal.

1. Raynham Hall in Norfolk.  I visited Norfolk just 2 months ago but I didn’t know this place existed.  Ghost wise it is most know for its Brown Lady Ghost who can be seen descending the grand staircase.

The Brown Lady Ghost

One of the most famous ghost photos of all time.

2. Pendle Hill, Lancashire. Pendle is famous for its witch trials when in 1612 a number of witches were put on trial for murder. 10 people were eventually executed on Gallows Hill which is said to still be haunted both by the executed witches and those said to be murdered.  Some modern day witches still visit the site on Halloween though many of the local won’t go near the place due to the supernatural events that still go on there.  It is said by those who filmed it that the most terrifying edition of the TV show “Most Haunted” took place here.

3. The Tomb of George Mackenzie, Edinburgh.  George Mackenzie was the Kings advocate and as such had a hand in the deaths of an incredible 18,000 people.  Whilst most hauntings have little impact on the physical world, the ones hear are much more sinister and violent with some 500 recorded poltergeist attacks in and around his tomb.  Seriously scary!

4. Covenanters Prison, Edinburgh.  Staying in the Scottish capital which is generally swarming with ghosts are the secret chambers where in Victorian times Burke and Hare would obtain bodies for pioneering scientists to perform anatomy dissections.  Previously the bodies of executed people were used but as Capital Punishment was used less and less, the supply of bodies ran low.  Some people turned to grave robbing but Burke and Hare took things one step further, they would abduct and murder perfectly well people to be used in these dissections.  It should be said that much pioneering medical work was achieved by many doctors in similar situations and though sourcing bodies was a definite grey area, Burke and Hare took things that step too far. 

Up the close and doun the stair,
But and ben wi’ Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox the boy that buys the beef.

—19th-century Edinburgh skipping rhyme

  Burke was executed and rather fittingly his body was used to further medical science.  Hare got off lighter and is set to have been blinded by an angry mob and spent the rest of his days begging in total poverty.  The doctor who paid for the “bodies” was not punished.

Over half of volunteers who perform tests in Edinburgh Castle have reported sudden temperature drops, feelings of malevolence and unexplained tugging of their clothing.

The skeleton of William Burke

The skeleton of William Burke

5. The Ten Bells Pub, London.  Any pub worth its salt has its spooky hauntings.  The age of most mean that it is almost certain that at some point someone has been murdered or died there.  One of the more sensational in London is the Ten Bells Pub which drinkers often report seeing a Victorian dressed ghost.  To make things worse, this pub is in Spitalfields and was the regular drinking place of two of Jack The Ripper’s victims.   Poor Annie Chapman spent her last evening here and it is entirely possible that she was propositioned by Jack in the pub or outside on the doorstep.

Ten Bells Pub

Haunted and involved in the scene of infamous murders.

6. Pluckley, Kent.  There are many contenders for the most haunted village but Puckley is always ranked highly.  The village is home to 16 ghosts, the most scary of which is the legendary ‘Howling Man’.  His ghostly screams of agony are said to be the result of a poor man who got crushed to death by a falling wall.  Others include a highway man who was run through with a sword and his body left pinned to a tree, a school teacher who in times past committed suicide and the unfortunate ghost of the watercress seller.  She was an impoverished lady who sold watercress on the village bridge to try and make ends meet.  This particular day she drank so much gin that she was totally inebriated and spilled much on her clothing.  When she tried to light her pipe she accidentally set herself alight and burned alive.

7. The Tower of London – All castles have ghosts, my favourite is Bambrough Castle which is home to several ghosts including one that tries to lure witnesses to their doom.  Probably the one with the most and one that easiest for visitors to see is The Tower of London.  With countless executions from the 11thCentury to WW2 this is the place to see your high-ranking celebrity ghost.  Nearby Hampton Court is often known for the ghosts of some of King Henry VIII’s wives.

8. The Ancient Ramm Inn, Gloucestershire.  The old pub has everything going for it ghost wise.  Built 900 years ago on the sight of a pre-historic pagan burial ground, the Inn is home to 20 ghosts.  It has been the sight of ritual child murders and numerous other awful events.  The father of the current owner won’t visit without holding his Bible.  The owner reports frequent

Some of the ghosts include a young girl named Rosie, a high priestess and a male Incubus demon.  One room in particular suffered badly with screaming children though they are quieter now that the owner has filled the room with cuddly toys.

Guests that stay in the small Bed and Breakfast have fled in terror after seeing their bedroom, furniture flying across the rooms, encountering child ghosts in the corridors and even having a spirit attack them in bed.  One guest even jumped through the bedroom window in terror though was happily not injured.  Wooden beams are said to shake and it is not not just the ghostly screams of children that are heard but the strong shouting in a male voice of “Get Out!.

Ancient Ram Inn

This old inn is mostly visited by brave tourists wanting to experience the ghosts but many don’t stay all night. Would you?

9 Borley Rectary, Essex.  Churches and Cathedrals often have reported ghosts such as the hooded black abbot in Gloucester.  This old church in Essex is haunted by the ghosts of a monk and nun.  They wanted to be together but were not allowed.  The Monk was hung and the Nun buried alive in the vaults beneath the the building.  It is said that their ghosts roam the area hand in hand.

10. York.  York is a beautiful and ancient city and popular with visitors for many reasons but it is now acknowledged as the most haunted city in the world with over 500 catalogued supra natural events.  It is home to also one of the longest standing ghostly sightings, that of the Roman Legionnaires at the Treasury House.  With history including Vikings, wars, the plague and Highwayman Dick Turpin there are numerous ghost walks around the city.

The Shambles

Pretty by day, spooky by night!

The full account of the discovery of the Roman Ghosts is taken here from www.real-british-ghosts.com

Hear the word ‘ghosts’ and it is not Roman ghosts that you think of, I would wager. But that is exactly what these York ghosts are. They were clearly seen in February 1953 by an apprentice plumber called Harry Martingale as he worked in the cellars of the Treasurer’s House. A procession of Roman soldiers, ghosts dating from the 4th century.
Harry’s account was as follows. He was standing on a ladder when he heard what he described as ‘a tinny trumpet call’. At first, he thought that the sound must be coming from the road above him. However, he heard the sound several times and each time it appeared to be closer.
Suddenly a smallish Roman soldier, carrying a sort of trumpet and wearing a kilt, appeared through the wall. A rider on a large horse followed. They walked across the cellar and disappeared through the wall on the opposite side of the room. Not surprisingly, Harry fell off the ladder to the floor where he crouched in terror. Next followed about 20 more Roman soldiers. All had dark complexions and seemed very dirty, dishevelled and despondent and looked at the ground as they marched. They were dressed in green tunics with plumed helmets and they carried short swords and spears. There was nothing ghostly about them, they appeared quite solid.

On their knees!
But the oddest thing was that the Roman ghosts appeared to marching on their knees. It was only when they got to part of the floor that had been dug away that Harry realised that they were actually walking on the original Roman road that was beneath the cellar floor.
Eventually, the soldiers had followed the horse through the wall and Harry left his tools and ran. The first person he saw said to him, ‘You have seen the Roman ghosts, haven’t you?’.
Harry’s account was at first dismissed as there were various particulars of his description that didn’t fit with accepted history. For instance, Harry said that the soldiers carried round shields rather than the more traditional square Roman shields and that they laced their sandals up to their knees not their ankles. However, it has only been recently discovered from excavations at Hadrian’s Wall that in the 4th Century, auxiliary troops carried round shields and they did lace their sandals just as Harry described. At the time of Harry’s encounter, it was not even known that auxiliary Roman soldiers had ever been stationed in York.
Although the Treasurer’s House is open to the public, the cellars are not. In one way, this is a shame. However it may be that this will have the effect of preserving the Roman ghosts for posterity.

It’s not just Britain that has well documented ghosts.

Confederate Soldier Ghost

This very old photo was taken in a house undergoing renovation. It is known that Confederate soldiers would sleep down in the cellar.

 

Child by grave

This photo was taken in Queensland, Australia. A mother was visiting the grave of her teenage daughter when she saw this ghost. Investigators later discovered the graves of two young girls nearby.

S.S Watertown Watery Faces

In 1924 on the SS Watertown from New York City, James Courtney and Michael Meehan were killed by gas fumes in a freak accident. For the rest of the voyage to the Panama Canal, the crew reported seeing faces in the sea behind them. The Captain took 5 photos of the faces, this is the only one that came out.

 

Worstead Church

Look behind you

Finally, if all this has been a little too scary, fear not.  Ghosts can be kindly too. This photo above of Diane Berthelot was taken in 1975 in Worstead Church, Norfolk, England.  Her husband took the photo of his wife in prayer and when they got the photo developed were surprised to see this ghostly figure sat in old fashioned clothing behind her.  Curious, the couple re-visited the church the following summer and showed the photo to the Vicar who told them not to worry as they had seen The White Lady.  She often appears to help and aid visitors, especially those sick or unwell.  This shocked the couple as at the time Diane Berthelot was quite unwell and on anti-biotics that weren’t doing anything much for her though after visiting the church she soon made a full recovery.

Happy Halloween!!!

 

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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17 Responses to Top Ten Haunted Places in the U.K.

  1. blosslyn says:

    Yes, I too have seen them…..but not in recent years….although when I visited Pluckley Church, all the photos that I took of the gravestones and the memorials in the chapel inside the church vanished off the card, photos before and after were ok. There are two ghosts at the church the ‘Red Lady’ in the churchyard and the ‘White Lady’ inside the church, although I didn’t know at the time…..I also didn’t feel anything spooky in the church, it was just weird that the photos just disappeared. But we did visit the screaming woods and took photos, my daughter and granddaughter’s photos had orbs on them………… and I didn’t like it….not somewhere I would walk my dog and he’s a massive German Shepherd 🙂 Sorry, forgot to say I really enjoyed the post 🙂

    Like

    • Thank-you for you long comment! I am glad you liked the post, I was wondering how scary to make it as I know people of all ages and interests are likely to read it.

      I haven’t visited Pluckley yet but will have to do so now you have told me about it. It is very strange about your photos in the church yard. Also how it is possible to get unpleasant feelings about a place and then later on find out what happened there.

      I hope you have a quiet Halloween 🙂

      Like

      • blosslyn says:

        You should visit because apart from being spooky, its a lovely village and I think some of the Darling Buds of May were filmed there. You pitched the post just at the right amount of scariness, also children love being scared at Halloween they think its great fun 🙂 Have a great Halloween.

        Like

  2. Egads, Stephen!! Glad I read this in broad daylight!! Ghost things freak me out a bit, but I had to read my new friend’s post!! 🙂

    Very well done…. Skye. (This is my other blog. Sorry to confuse a bit).

    Like

    • Yes, it is a bit freaky. It has got dark here now and I shan’t be visiting my blog post again until morning 🙂

      Don’t worry, my blog posts cover lots of things but this is the first scary one I have written in 18 months!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it and it is wonderful to have made a new friend today. I can’t wait to explore both your blogs!

      Like

  3. kiwiskan says:

    We lived in Lincolnshire for a little while in a village called Brant Broughton. I used to travel some nights between there and Cranwell on a road that had been an old Roman road. It was purportedly haunted by a Roman Legionnaire who used to step in front of cars. Luckily I never sighted him…

    Like

    • It is incredible how ghosts can be seen or at least reported in even the most quietest areas. I wonder if this Roman Legionnaire may have got trampled by a horse 2,000 years ago? I don’t think I would want to see a ghostly Roman on a quiet country lane.

      Like

  4. Map of Time says:

    At one point it was believed my ancestors were members of the Townsend family of Raynham Hall (and the ghost of course, at least by marriage 🙂 ), but I’m not so sure that is the case. Anyhoo, interesting post of strange encounters. I’m curious enough to file away the SS Watertown story for a future post. 😀

    Like

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard from anyone who might be related to a ghost before 🙂 Yes it would be interesting to learn more fully about the voyage and what happened to the ship and her crew afterwards.

      Like

  5. Em says:

    Wow, this was a spooky post! I love York and have to go on the ghost tour every time I’m there. I’ve also been to the haunted pub there (Black Sheep, I think) and freaked myself out by imagining a ghost just appearing (I didn’t see one though). I found some more haunted places here: http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/news/top-10-most-haunted-places-in-the-uk/

    Like

    • I have been on the York ghost walk too, it is a great way to spend the evening. Have you been to the York Dungeons too?

      Our hotel was on the very edge of York and every day we had to walk past where Dick Turpin was executed!

      Thanks for the link, I will check it out right away.

      Like

  6. gn0mel0ver says:

    Creepy! Creepy! Creepy!
    And my daughter now wants it to be her life mission to stay in that inn. Thanks Stephen! Because there is no way that is happening with me. Aaaashhhhh!

    Chills!

    Jenni

    Like

    • I know! How spooky can that inn be if people have gone their wanting to be freaked out still find it so scary they jump through the upstairs window in the middle of the night to escape.

      You can come and stay at our house whilst your daughter scares herself silly!!

      Hope you are having a great and not at all scary week!

      Stephen

      Like

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