Whether it’s Halloween hokum or supernatural manifestations, we find Britain’s scariest spots, with headless horsemen, screaming woods and a lady in white rising from the walls of a centuries-old castle.
1. Lest we forget
London is reputedly home to over 100 ghostly sites, from the Tower of London to disused underground stations. At Westminster Abbey’s World War I memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a spectral soldier is said to materialize once the crowds have left, standing with his head bowed before dissolving into thin air.
2. Petrifying Pluckley
Pluckley in Kent has been dubbed the most haunted village in Britain. At least a dozen ghosts have been sighted there and its spectral spots include Fright Corner, where highwayman Robert du Bois met his untimely demise; the Screaming Woods, where it is rumoured you can hear the cries of the dead; and the Church of St Nicholas where sounds of knocking can be heard at night.
3. A bloody past
It’s no surprise that Hampton Court Palace has some ghostly stories, considering the number of its residents who went on to meet a grisly end. Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, beheaded for adultery at just 20 years of age in 1542, caused the ‘Haunted Gallery’ to be given its name. It is said she still races through it to plead for her life.
4. The original Moaning Myrtle
Pubs in Britain frequently said to be haunted and the 400-year-old Red Lion Inn in Wiltshire is no exception. Situated inside the ancient Avebury stone circle, the inn’s resident ghost is known as Florrie, killed by her jealous husband in the 17th century. She is blamed for throwing salt and pepper mills across the bar, and has been witnessed several times in the ladies’ loos.
5. Man or monster?
The turrets and towers of Glamis Castle in Angus make it one of Scotland’s most impressive castles, but also its most sinister. Among the many spirits said to inhabit the place is the ghost of the Monster of Glamis – allegedly a hideously deformed child who was kept locked up in a hidden room for all of his unnaturally long life.
6. Wandering hands
At Charlton House in Greenwich, a ghost with unusual propensities roams the corridors. Women staying at the house blame the amorous spectre for bottoms pinched by invisible fingers and bedroom door handles turning in the dead of night.
7. Beware the Blue Lady
The remains of 14th-century Berry Pomeroy Castle, near Totness in Devon, are home to two female ghosts. According to legend, the White Lady is the spirit of Lady Margaret Pomeroy, who was starved to death in the dungeons by her jealous sister. She rises from the castle walls where a blue light can be seen. Vengeful spirit the Blue Lady, however, is said to try and lure men to their death in unsafe areas of the castle.
8. The Pendle witches
In 1612, 12 residents from the area surrounding Pendle Hill in Lancashire were accused of witchcraft. All but one was found guilty and hanged. Spookily, a 17th century cottage, complete with cat skeleton, was unearthed near the hill in 2011.
9. Off with her head
The former residence of the ill-fated Boleyn family, Blickling Hall in Norfolk was voted the most haunted house in Britain in a National Trust survey in October 2007. A headless Anne Boleyn is said to visit the house each year, arriving in a ghostly carriage led by headless horses on 19 May, the anniversary of her death.
10. Abbey apparitions
The atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire stand starkly silhouetted above steep cliffs and inspired Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece Dracula. Whitby’s reported ghostly sightings include a nun whose body was found bricked up within the abbey walls, a coach and horses that plunge over the cliffs, a pirate and even children.
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