Gear up for Halloween (this year, or in years to come) with visits to some of these reportedly haunted English Heritage properties, where ghost stories are in abundance.
Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire
Bolsover is one of the most widely reported haunted sites in the care of English Heritage. Members of staff and visitors often report being pushed, having doors slammed on them and finding objects inexplicably moved. Night security guards have been alarmed by unexplained lights and movement in the empty property, and two workmen were terrified when they saw a woman disappear through a wall.
Too scary? Avoid being frightened by taking afternoon tea in the tea room, a wall walk, and a stroll through the Fountain Garden.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Pictured: Kenilworth Castle.
Staff have reported peculiar happenings in the gatehouse – things missing or moved once the castle has been closed to visitors, and the antique cot in the adjoining room rocking by itself. A night watchman reported that, while patrolling the grounds one evening, he witnessed a ghostly figure walk through his colleague, who went cold as it happened.
Too scary? Kenilworth Castle offers tower views, an Elizabethan Garden, a Castle Keep and a Great Hall ruin. Guided tours are available for groups.
Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
When opening up the drum towers in the morning, staff have reported that the faint but detectable sound of children’s laughter has often be heard, and that each time they enter a new room the laughter moves to the previous room entered. The children have never shown themselves, but some night staff wish them a good night.
Too scary? Groups visiting can meet donkeys, explore the royal connections, see the Norman Keep and roam the Princess Beatrice Garden. There's also an exhibition and castle museum and a castle tearoom.
Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
Pictured: Pendennis Castle.
Pendennis Castle was built by Henry VIII to protect the Carrick Roads from invasion by France and Spain. In 1646 the castle was the site of a siege and Royalists were trapped inside for six months, forced to eat their horses and dogs for survival before eventually surrendering. The piercing screams of a kitchen maid who fell to her death whilst carrying food are reported to have been heard by visitors, as well as strange footsteps on a staircase that no longer leads anywhere.
Too scary? At Pendennis Castle you can explore the First World War Exhibition and look around the Discovery Centre to find out more about the castle's involvement in the World Wars.
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
Perched high on a cliff, it's easy to see why the haunting remains of Whitby Abbey were inspiration for Bram Stoker's gothic tale of Dracula and why there are so many strange tales of hauntings. Staff have felt unexplained cold draughts in the middle of staircases, stock flying off the shelves and strange taps on the shoulder seemingly from no one.
Too scary? At Whitby Abbey groups can explore the abbey ruins and visit the Mansion Visitor Centre.
Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire
Staff at Beeston Castle have reported seeing a shadowy figure standing by the inner ward gates, lights flickering on and off and hearing knocking on the walls. The caves have drawn some particularly odd stories with visitors claiming to have seen light in their depths and a woman on a rocking chair barring them entry.
Too scary? There is also an 'enchanted' woodland, cafe and exhibition for groups to explore on a visit.
Dover Castle, Kent
Pictured: Underground chambers at Dover Castle.
Dover has sheltered many thousands of lives within its walls over its long history. In the great tower, the lower half of a man’s body was said to be seen by two members of staff in the doorway to the King’s chamber. Another staff member, while cleaning the basement, saw the figure of a Cavalier, and another has seen the figure of a woman in a red dress on the stairs and along the mural gallery.
Too scary? There's so much to see at Dover Castle as it has seen a lot of history, and has had a lot of involvement in wars. Groups can visit the underground hospital, Operation Dynamo exhibition, Medieval tunnels and the World War One Fire Command Post.
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
At the former home and fortress of ‘bloody’ Mary Tudor, staff have seen the figure of a man in 17th-century dress and a mysterious dark figure with a white face following them across the site. Outside what was the workhouse ‘naughty cupboard’, a bell has been heard ringing, similar sounding to the hand bell that would have been used when the building was a functioning Workhouse.
Too scary? Escape to the newly refurbished cafe and new exhibition space, which opened this year.
Clifford’s Tower, North Yorkshire
Clifford’s Tower is almost all that remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and has served as a prison and a royal mint in its time. Staff have reported strange banging coming from ceilings, mysterious footsteps and the sound of children running in the courtyard when the site has been closed.
Too scary? Groups can arrange a guided tour of the tower and enjoy the panoramic views from the top.
Home of Charles Darwin – Down House, Kent
Pictured: House of Charles Darwin.
Even the former home of renowned scientist Charles Darwin has not been immune to strange goings on. A staff member has reported that when entering the study once and brushing past Darwin’s desk to close the shutters, a quill that lay on the desk suddenly stared spinning and wouldn’t cease until she left the room.
Too scary? There’s’ plenty of non-creepy bits to explore, from Darwin's Gardens to the former bedrooms of the scientist.
Group booking information
Groups of 11 or more receive a 15% discount at English Heritage properties (10% at Stonehenge). A tour leader and coach driver are admitted free with each group.
For more information call 0117-975 1349 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find more information at www.english-heritage.org.uk.
Lead image: Bolsover Castle.