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Witches, beheaded royals and headless horses: The ghosts of England’s most haunted places

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10 of the most haunted places in England

With all the castles, churches and other ancient buildings that remind people of the country’s rich history, it’s little wonder that many of these places claim to be haunted by historical figures. Here are some of the most haunted places in England, where visitors may just catch a glimpse of something supernatural. 

From the hall where people have reported hearing the anguished screams of one of Henry VIII’s wives, to the Abbey where a black coach driven by headless horses roams the grounds, there’s plenty on this list to bring the chills this Halloween.

Pendle Hill, Lancashire

The backdrop of the most famous witch trials in English history, Pendle Hill, is where twelve women accused of witchcraft lived back in the 17th century.

The women were trialled and executed, and legend has it that they still haunt their old meeting places in the area.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey illuminated in the run-up to Halloween 2017. (Image: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Whitby Abbey, Whitby

Famously the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Whitby is already on the map when it comes to spooky stories – but the Abbey is known for its apparent hauntings.

The founder of the Abbey who died all the way back in 680 AD, St Hild, has been spotted in the upstairs windows of the Abbey ruins.

The Abbey is also home to the story of a doomed nun, Constance de Beverley, who broke her vows of chastity after falling in love with a handsome knight. 

She was buried alive inside the Abbey walls as a punishment, and the story goes that visitors can still hear her desperate cries.

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle (Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Dunster Castle, Somerset

Staff at Dunster Castle have reported a number of seemingly unexplainable occurrences, from a ghostly man in green walking through the former stable block to strange voices being heard in the kitchens.

But perhaps the most eerie story is that of the castle dungeons, where skeletal remains were once discovered. 

The dungeons are always dark and gloomy, even in broad daylight, and dogs apparently become seriously spooked if they walk nearby, refusing to climb the steps to the dungeon.

Blickling Hall

Blickling Hall (Image: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport)

Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Blickling is thought to have been the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, and the ghost of King Henry VIII’s doomed wife is now said to haunt the Hall.

The story goes that she returns to Blickling each year as night falls on the anniversary of her execution on May 19, arriving at the doors in a carriage with her own head in her lap.

Anne Boleyn isn’t the only spirit that apparently haunts there. Other ghostly residents include the spirit of Sir John Falstoafe, the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s Falstaff. The dying groans of 17th century politician Sir Henry Hobart have also been heard from the West Turret bedroom.

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Pluckley, Kent

The village of Pluckley had an entry in the Guinness Book of records back in 1989 for being the most haunted village in the UK, and has since featured on shows like Most Haunted and Ghostly Legends. 

Pluckley is home to at least twelve famous ghosts, and St Nicholas’ Church is a particular haunted hotspot. The White Lady and The Red Lady can both be seen wandering the church graveyard, as can the spirit of a small white dog, according to local legend. 

Other ghosts in the area are said to include a highwayman, a young woman who drowned in the nearby river, and a man smothered by a wall of clay at the old brickworks.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace (Image: John Stillwell/PA Archive/PA Images)

Hampton Court Palace, Molesey

Once inhabited by King Henry VIII, the palace is another place famous for royal ghosts. Two of the King’s famous six wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, have been seen by many visitors to the palace.

The spirit of Jane Seymour has reportedly been spotted on the Silverstick Stairs.

The anguished screams of Catherine’s ghost are sometimes heard in The Haunted Gallery of the palace, where she is said to have run through before being seized by guards to be beheaded.

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle (Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images)

Corfe Castle, Dorset

This castle is home to many gruesome tales, not least that of Edward the Martyr, the Anglo-Saxon heir to the throne who was imprisoned and then murdered in the castle grounds.

An act of betrayal during the civil war in the 1600s also led to part of the castle being blown up from within. These legends are said to have led to many unhappy ghosts inhabiting the castle to this day.

Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire

The Great Hall in Samlesbury is famed for its eerie incidents – guests have told of seeing shadows pass by, and being slapped on the back of the head by an unseen hand.

One of the several ghosts that are said to reside here is Dorothy Southworth, who died of a broken heart in the 17th century. Visitors have seen Dorothy wandering the grounds dressed in white.

Buckland Abbey, Devon

The famous 16th century explorer Sir Francis Drake once lived here. Rumours followed him throughout his life about having supernatural abilities and making deals with the devil, and some think these stories may be the reason that his unhappy ghost apparently still lives at Buckland Abbey.

Local legend has it that the apparition of Sir Francis rides around Dartmoor in a black coach driven by headless horses, pursued by a pack of barking dogs. This ghostly sight is long thought to be the inspiration behind the famous Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg Hall (Image: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Images)

Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

William Windham III, a statesman and bibliophile who had a giant library in Felbrigg Hall, is now said to haunt the place. In 1809 a fire broke out in a friend’s library in London, and bibliophile William charged into the flames in an attempt to rescue some of the precious books. He died of his injuries a few weeks later.

His ghost is said to still be seen in the library at Felbrigg. Several staff members report seeing him sitting in a chair in the library, book in hand – but it’s said that he will only appear if a particular combination of books is placed on the library table.

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