Britain's “Ghostly and Gruesome Trail,” compiled by the nation's Historic Houses Association, includes a series of renowned properties where gorgeous architecture and haunted history meet. Dark legacies, gray ladies, spectres, banging and clanging, the eerie sound of footsteps, and many more pieces of paranormal lore lie ahead. Reader beware.
1. ATHELHAMPTON HOUSE // DORSET
This famously haunted house is said to host the ghost of an ape from the 16th century, whose haunting manifests as scratching coming from the secret staircase and cellar, where the animal is supposedly trapped. Other spirits have been reported elsewhere in the house, including a pair of duellists and a figure known as the Gray Lady of Athelhampton.
2. LONGLEAT HOUSE // WILTSHIRE
Longleat House is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Lady Louisa, whose husband Thomas Thynne killed a footman whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife. Thynne buried the footman in the basement and told his wife that the man had simply left the house unexpectedly. However, Louisa’s suspicions sent her into a frantic state and she searched every room for many days and nights following the incident. During her relentless search, she caught a cold that developed into pneumonia, then died during childbirth. She is reportedly still searching the house today.
3. TIVERTON CASTLE // DEVON
Among the spirits said to haunt Tiverton Castle is a young bride who hid in a chest during a game of hide-and-seek on her wedding day, and accidentally locked herself inside. Despite an extensive search, she wasn’t found until many years later—when all that was left was a dress and skeleton. It’s said that people have seen a young bride wandering the halls of the castle, often without having any prior knowledge of the sad story.
4. PRIDEAUX PLACE // CORNWALL
Those who’ve slept in The Stair Room at Prideaux Place have reported hauntings from a vicious dog, blood streaming down the walls, a beheading, and a gathering of monks (which makes some sense, since the house is on the site of a former monastery). A former resident wanders the house, and the tunnel that goes under the public road is occupied by a mysterious “white lady” who emerges to frighten the children.
5. OLD BOWLISH HOUSE // SOMERSET
During World War II, naval officers often stayed here and commonly reported seeing the ghost of a dressed-up lady as well as a young girl, who was seen shooting herself in the head with a pistol before disappearing. One officer apparently tried to fire at one of the figures, leaving a bullet hole in one of the bedroom walls, which has since been lost or covered up.
6. THE PETO GARDEN AT IFORD MANOR // WILTSHIRE
The mysterious smell of incense, an apparition of a monk, a child humming, blown-out candles, and unexplained thumps and bumps are all said to occur at this haunted manor.
7. CHAVENAGE HOUSE // GLOUCESTERSHIRE
A headless king and a gray lady supposedly haunt this house, and one of the bedrooms was so upsetting to guests that an exorcism is said to have been performed there.
8. POWDERHAM CASTLE // DEVIN
One of the oldest family homes in England is supposedly haunted by forces that reportedly cause dogs to refuse to cross the threshold of a particular landing, and which make photography tricky, if not impossible, at the same time.
9. SAMLESBURY HALL // LANCASHIRE
The ghosts of the Lady Dorothy Southworth, a man who killed himself in the Long Gallery over debts, and a Catholic priest who was beheaded there are among the spirits said to haunt this troubled place.
10. ASTLEY HALL // LANCASHIRE
A man who appears to be a country gentleman from the early 20th century and a young girl have appeared and disappeared so many times that the staff knows not to try to collect their entrance fees. There’s also a woman in Tudor clothing who’s been seen all around the house and yard, and the phantom sounds of children laughing and Mozart being played on the grand piano have been heard.
11. LEVENS HALL // CUMBRIA
A gypsy reportedly cursed this house as she died, and it’s now haunted by spirits such as that of a little black dog, who has been seen on the grounds and inside the house.
12. MUNCASTER CASTLE, GARDENS & OWL CENTRE // CUMBRIA
The Tapestry Room in the castle is no longer used for guests because so many people reported the sounds of a child crying, doors and handles rattling, and a feeling of terrible chest pains. There’s also a ghost named Tom Skelton—a resident jester who is said to have murdered a carpenter who “misbehaved” with his boss’ daughter—and who now haunts the place, despite the fact that he has a name almost too good to be true.
13. HOGHTON TOWER // LANCASHIRE
Countless paranormal events have been reported here, and ghost tours have been taking place since 1955.
14. RIPLEY CASTLE // YORKSHIRE
This castle is said to be occupied by the spirits of the Ingleby family, who owned and occupied the building for hundreds of years, dating back to the 16th century.
15. NEWBY HALL & GARDENS // YORKSHIRE
The Church of Christ the Consoler on the grounds of Newby Hall is the site of a well-known “ghost” photo. It's considered to be either staged by Reverend Lord or the result of water damage. Or, you know, it could be a real and terrifying spirit from the great beyond.
16. KIPLIN HALL // YORKSHIRE
Kiplin was used by officers in the army and Royal Air Force during World War II, and since then people have reported smelling cigar and pipe smoke. Paranormal investigators have seen men in the house and noted the same smells.
17. BURTON AGNES HALL // YORKSHIRE
Anne Griffith, the daughter of Sir Henry Griffith (who built the hall), was attacked and robbed before construction on the building was complete. As she was dying from her injuries, she requested for her head to remain in the house after her passing. Her family buried her in the churchyard, and the haunting supposedly began immediately, with slammed doors and the sound of someone running up and down the corridors. Her skull was brought into house, where it’s reportedly still located, though no one knows where.
18. NORTON CONYERS // YORKSHIRE
According to legend, a woman known as “Mad Mary” was imprisoned in the attic here in the 18th century and her spirit still resides in the house.
19. INVERARAY CASTLE AND GARDEN // SCOTLAND
Many ghosts are said to haunt this castle, but perhaps the most unusual is the apparition of the Galley of Lorne, a ship that is said to sail over land all the way to the castle to take its victims.
20. GLAMIS CASTLE // SCOTLAND
The hauntings at this castle are apparently thanks to an ancient curse brought on by Sir John Lyon, who removed an ancestral chalice from a spot where it was supposed to reside forever, and opened the door for a slew of spirits. These include an unidentified woman with no tongue who runs around pointing at her face, and another who was burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft.
21. DORNEY COURT // BERKSHIRE
The spectre of a bald woman appears only to men in this residence, which is known for supernatural occurrences.
22. BEAULIEU // HAMPSHIRE
In 1928, four coffins were discovered on the grounds of the abbey, one of which contained the remains of a man with a hole through his skull and a crown on his head. Arthur Conan Doyle himself held a séance there with the help of a psychic, where the spirit of the crowned body reportedly rose. All that is just the beginning when it comes to Beaulieu's long and storied history of paranormal activity.
23. KNEBWORTH HOUSE // HERTFORDSHIRE
This Gothic mansion is said to be inhabited by the ghost of Jenny Spinner, who was imprisoned in the east wing by Lady Lytton after her son fell in love with Jenny. It's also home to others who have appeared to guests throughout the years.
24. HARLINGTON MANOR // BEDFORDSHIRE
A lady in a silk gown—possible a friend of Lady Anne, daughter of the first Earl of Anglesey—is said to haunt the residence.
25. WOBURN ABBEY // BEDFORDSHIRE
Robert Hobbes, the last abbot of Woburn Abbey, was hanged from a great oak outside the abbey during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. He is said to haunt the grounds along with the spirit of Lady Mary Tribe (a 1920s adventurer) and a duchess who lived at Woburn in the 19th century.
26. TISSINGTON HALL // DERBYSHIRE
Wilhelmina FitzHerbert, an ancestor of the current owners, died tragically in 1862 and now haunts her former bedroom, as do spirits in the library, and a man dressed in black in the cellar.
27. FULHAM PALACE // LONDON
Fulham Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home for over 12 centuries, and is still haunted by one to this day.
28. CHILLINGHAM CASTLE // NORTHUMBERLAND
Hundreds of paranormal events have been recorded at Chillingham Castle. It's said to be haunted by former prisoners, a famous torturer, a woman in white, and Lady Mary Berkeley, among others.