Ghostly encounters

Share spine-chilling thrills at some of the most haunted historic houses and castles across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With ghostly tales from centuries past, there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of things on a day out with us. Take an eerie walk with your family in a haunted house if you dare. Here’s our pick of the most hair-raising haunted locations, and their spooky stories. Are you brave enough to pay them a visit?

The Parterre Garden at Blickling Estate, Norfolk.

Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Thought to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, her headless ghost is said to return on the anniversary of her execution.

Other ghostly residents allegedly include Sir John Falstofe and Sir Henry Hobart, whose dying groans can be heard emanating from the West Turret Bedroom on the anniversary of his death.

Visitors in the Great Barn at Buckland Abbey, Devon.

Buckland Abbey, Devon

Sir Francis Drake lived in glory as a national hero while he was alive, but his spirit is obviously not a happy one. Both he and some accompanying 'hell hounds' are rumoured to haunt his former home

The Keep of Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle, Dorset

One of Corfe Castle's most grisly stories tells of the 18 year old Anglo-Saxon heir to the throne, who was murdered in the grounds of the castle at the orders of his stepmother Queen Elfrida. She was determined to bring about the succession of her son, Ethelred, later known as ‘The Unready’. While in the 14th century Edward II was imprisoned at Corfe prior to his own horrific murder.

A view of Croft Castle, Herefordshire with the Church of St Michael, built in rough local stone, to the left, and the east front of Croft Castle to the right.

Croft Castle, Herefordshire

With centuries of history residing within its ancient walls, it is perhaps no surprise that Croft is reputed to be the most haunted house in the Midlands, with a total of seven spectres supposedly in residence. Of these, the most imposing is a seven-foot figure of a man clad in a leather jerkin, believed to be the ghost of Welsh freedom fighter Owain Glyndwr, who the Croft family are descended from.

Newton House at Dinefwr, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire

Set in the middle of this 18th-century landscape park is Newton House which, it is rumoured, is haunted at night by Lady Elinor Cavendish. Lady Elinor was betrothed to a man she didn’t love and to escape him she sought refuge with her family at Dinefwr, followed by her enraged suitor who then strangled her to death.

Staff believe that there is a presence still haunting the house. Lights switch themselves on and off, muffled voices reverberate around empty rooms and from time to time there is the unmistakeable aroma of pipe or cigar smoke.

Heavy wooden door to the Gatehouse at Dunster Castle, Somerset.

Dunster Castle, Somerset

The most unusual ghost story from Dunster concerns the remains of a seven foot tall prisoner who was manacled by the wrists and ankles along with three or four other skeletons. Even in daylight the site where these skeletons were found is dark and gloomy. Dogs seem particularly troubled by the presence of these prisoners, refusing to climb the steps that stand near to where the bodies were found.

Felbrigg Hall library

Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

Most of the ghost stories associated with Felbrigg centre on the phantom bibliophile. William Windham III is believed to still visit his magnificent library in order to read all the books he didn’t have time to whilst he was alive. Nearly 200 years ago a fire broke out and William risked his life trying to rescue save precious volumes, dying weeks later from his injuries. But, apparently, the ghost will only appear when an exact combination of books is placed on the library chair.

Visitors and the south front of Ham House, Surrey.

Ham House, Surrey

Cold spots, sounds of footsteps, inexplicable scents of roses and glimpses of mysterious characters, Ham House is thought to be one of our most haunted places. An overnight investigation concluded there may be as many as 15 phantoms in residence, including a number of dogs, a domineering lady and a gloomy young man who jumped to his death after being turned down by the one he loved.

Children exploring inside at Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Merseyside.

Speke Hall, Liverpool

The chilling tale in Speke’s history comes from the 1730s when Lady Mary inherited the house, becoming an important and desirable heiress. Later she married the notorious Lord Sidney Beauclerk. ‘Worthless Sidney’, as he was known, loved high living and excess so much that eventually he was forced to break the news to his wife that he had gambled away the family fortunes.

Legend tells of Lady Mary, so overcome with grief and anger that she picked up her infant son from his cradle and threw him from the window into the moat below. She then went down into the Great Hall and committed suicide.

Children at Springhill, County Londonderry.

Springhill, County Londonderry

Left to bring up their children after the suicide of her husband, George Lenox-Conyngham, his second wife Olivia was so distraught and guilt-ridden that her ghost is believed to roam this atmospheric house to this day. Despite the sad story, staff believe her to be a benign presence, seeming fond of children, although it can be unnerving to see her walk through closed doors.

Front of the house, viewed from the western corner of the garden

Treasurer's House, Yorkshire

Featured in the Guinness Book of Records for having 'Ghosts of the greatest longevity’, many people have reported seeing the ghosts of a Roman army in the cellars of Treasurer's House. The best known account is of an engineer who was installing central heating in cellars of the house, when he heard the sound of a trumpet and saw the top of a soldier’s helmet apparently emerging from the wall against which he had just been working. He leapt from his ladder, watching in disbelief as behind the trumpet player plodded a horse, and about twenty soldiers walking two abreast, carrying lances, round shields and short swords.