Ghosts and legends of famous hauntings abound in England’s most beautiful and ancient castles. Home to royalty and titled families, many play host to documented events of paranormal activities or “direct sightings” by guests, residents, and employees.
History buffs and ghost hunters alike will be happy to know that many of these locations are now open to visitors, in the form of bed and breakfasts, group bookings, or public tours. Whether having a cup of tea or spending the night in a haunted chamber, paying a visit to one of these spooky sites holds allure for many tourists.
Considered one of England’s most haunted castles, Muncaster is home to a series of dark tragedies in British history, including a “lady in white” cruelly murdered by her jealous rival, whose decaying corpse resurfaced dramatically despite repeated attempts to hide it. The sound of Tom Skelton or “Tom Fool” dragging away the body of a murdered carpenter haunts the castle’s halls and stairwell.
Muncaster’s dark reputation led paranormal investigators to visit the site and record evidence of paranormal activities taking place within the castle’s chambers, including the haunted “Tapestry Room”, with its unexplained noises and moving objects.
Guests can visit the grounds or arrange for special events to be hosted on the beautiful grounds, including weddings and other celebrations.
The sorrowful story behind Sudeley’s haunting is part of Britain’s rich tapestry of royal power and title: the legend of Queen Katherine Parr who died in childbirth, leaving behind a child forever lost in history. Legend claims the queen’s body, sealed in a lead casket and buried, was unearthed and opened over one hundred years later to reveal her body perfectly preserved — only to crumble to ashes a moment later.
Queen Katherine is one of several paranormal forces sensed by visitors and employees of Sudeley Castle. Guests may catch a glimpse of one of these ghosts while touring the castle, its grounds, and the church in which Katherine Parr lies burried. The castle also hosts exhibits dedicated to its history and a series of gift shops and activities for visitors.
The Tower of London
The most famous of England’s haunted castles, the Tower of London possesses a reputation for dark secrets and strong paranormal forces. Its history of terror and tragedy, along with documented ghost sightings and unexplained events, makes the Tower one of Britain’s most haunted (and most popular) tourist destinations.
Ghost stories surrounding the Tower’s history include sightings of the two lost princes playing amongst the empty rooms and the appearance of Henry the XVIII’s cruelly betrayed wife Anne Boleyn as a headless specter seen at night. Modern-day visitors to the Tower pay a visit to one of England’s most famous tourist sites, as well as unrivaled grounds haunted at least by the presence of history if not more.
Virtually all of England’s castles or estates are linked to a ghost story or unique encounter with the supernatural. Although no sightings of ghosts or paranormal events are guaranteed, visitors will enjoy glimpsing a piece of English history as they tour its legendary castles.
Britain’s Haunted Hotels
If you want a haunted hotel for Halloween or a ghostly getaway any other time of year, you can’t beat Britain. Britain’s timbered buildings and old coaching inns are full of ghosts. In hotels throughout the land, Grey Ladies drift through walls and float over lakes, horses’ hooves clatter at midnight, ghostly legions march along old Roman roads and even modern girl ghosts in mini-skirts and see-through blouses appear.
Guests and staff of the Wellington Hotel in Boscastle have experienced many strange apparitions including a figure in period dress vanishing into a wall and an old lady passing through a closed door. Immortalised in Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Jamaica Inn, once on a wild and lonely turnpike road across Bodmin Moor, has strong associations with smugglers. Disembodied voices speak in the long-dead Cornish language, and a coach and horses crunches across the gravelled courtyard at midnight. The courtyard was resurfaced with cobbles recently, but the noise of the metal-rimmed wheels is unchanged.
The Molesworth Arms in Wadebridge is also visited by a ghostly stagecoach at midnight on New Year’s Eve, its four horses whipped on by a headless coachman. At Dartmouth’s Royal Castle a mysterious coach and horses draws up at the entrance to collect an unknown passenger and vanish into the night.
In the De La Bere Hotel, a 15th-century manor house in Cheltenham once used as a girls’ school, a former matron paces the corridors at night to check that her charges are behaving. In Scotland, Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace Hotel claims a nurse in 19th-century uniform, a child from the 1800s, and a gentleman enjoying a drink at the bar. Spirits do seem to enjoy their spirits.
The Feathers in Ludlow has several interesting ghosts. One is a woman who tries to drive rivals away by pulling their hair (beware Room 211 if you’re the female half of a couple). Another is one of the rare modern ghosts, a pretty girl who confines her appearances to men only. She wears a miniskirt and see-through blouse and walks straight through cars parked outside. One shocked guest who saw her felt in urgent need of a medicinal brandy. The barman calmed him down. ‘Don’t worry, sir,’ he said. ‘You’re the sixth person who’s seen her this year!’