Halloween is just around the corner and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be bursting with excitement. In the spirit of this popular holiday, I’m inviting you to take a virtual tour of some of Britain’s spookiest locations.
Halloween might be more of a big deal in countries like America and Ireland, but England tops them both in terms of real life scares and it’s bloody history. Tyrannical kings and queens, witch hunts, tales of pagan sacrifices and unexplained disappearances make this little country one of the greatest places to indulge in a spot of ghost hunting.
Highgate Cemetery, London:
Are you the type who loves exploring overgrown graveyards? If so, you should definitely pencil in a visit to Highgate Cemetery in London, resting place of over 170,000 people since the early 18th century. Split into two sections (East and West), the cemetery offers guided tours for both, although visitors can walk around the East side unaccompanied. Visiting Highgate West is only available on a guided tour, but is worth every penny for the eerie atmosphere, beautiful flora and stunning Victorian architecture. Several ghostly spectres are reported to have been seen in the gardens, including the well known Highgate Vampire, a tall figure dressed all in black.
The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-Under-Edge:
At the heart of this tiny, unassuming village is The Ancient Ram Inn, often called ‘the most haunted building in Britain’. This former pub, which dates back to the 12th century, is reported to have been built on top of a pagan burial ground and is home to several apparitions and ghostly goings on. The Bishop’s Room is the most haunted room in the house, with sightings of ghosts, strange noises and massive drops in temperature and the scattered bones of children were unearthed in a grave in what used to be the living room. People come from all over the world to visit this old and atmospheric place. Owner John Humphries has been battling for years to save the grade II listed property, and welcomes all visitors for a small donation.
Pendle Hill, Lancashire:
Pendle Hill is the site of England’s most infamous witch trials and has been visited time and time again by ghost hunters and TV crews hoping to catch a glimpse of the supernatural. In the 17th century, twelve men and women living in the area were accused of murder by witchcraft, and eleven were found guilty and subsequently executed. In 2011, engineers working at the Lower Black Moss reservoir nearby discovered a 17th century “witches cottage” preserved underground. Further excavations revealed the skeleton of a cat that had been buried alive within the walls…
The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall:
The famous Jamaica Inn stands alone on desolate moors and has inspired many stories and films, including Daphne Du Maurier’s novel of the same name. Ghostly sightings are frequent and the sounds of footsteps, a woman crying and the spirits of long dead children can be heard in several of the rooms. The walls of the Inn and a small museum (also reported to be haunted by a tall dark figure) tell the Inn’s vivid history of smuggling and mysterious disappearances. One such tale is of a stranger enjoying a drink at the Inn. He was called outside and left his half finished ale at the bar. His body was discovered next morning on the moors, and the manner of his death and his killer remain a mystery. The Inn hosts regular overnight and weekend group ghost hunts throughout the year which are very popular and must be booked well in advance.
Tower Of London, London:
First built by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Tower Of London is one of England’s most famous historical landmarks, and one of the city’s top attractions. With a whole host of famous prisoners and records of executions, prisoners and cruel methods of torture, it is no wonder the Tower has a haunted reputation. Perhaps the most famous of all its prisoners was Queen Anne Boleyne, accused of witchcraft and executed by her husband, Henry VIII. Her headless ghost has reportedly been seen walking through the halls carrying her head. The Tower is open throughout the year except for Christmas and New Year.
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey:
Hampton Court Palace was the home of some of England’s most well known Monarchs, including the infamous Henry VIII and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Accused of adultery, she was placed under house arrest and sentenced to death by beheading. It is said her ghost wanders the Haunted Gallery, screaming…
In 2003, CCTV footage showed a strange faceless spectre in 16th century clothing repeatedly opening a locked fire escape. An entry ticket includes access to the palace, maze and gardens, and there are discounts for buying online, or in large groups.