Spooky museums and historic houses for a haunted Halloween
A spine-chilling selection of some of the best haunted historic houses and museums across the UK, encompassing some of the most sensational ghost stories from the country's top culture spots.
Vengeful spirits, strange smells and an entire ghostly procession are just some of the supernatural happenings at the UK’s museums and historic houses. Have you got the guts to check them out?
Boiler-suit up ghostbusters, as restless spirits show themselves and unexplained phenomena stump the most stubborn of sceptics.
These fabulous historic houses and museums are our pick of the UK’s most haunted culture-spots.
Discover the best museums and historic houses to visit this Halloween with a National Art Pass
You can't move for ghosts at one of the most haunted houses in the the UK. From a strange smell of roses that appears as if from nowhere to a woman in black and a screaming young nobleman, Ham House in Surrey has reported numerous strange incidents attributed to a whole troupe of mysterious characters over the years. Their merry band of ghosts are headed up by the vengeful spirit of Elizabeth Murray, Duchess of Lauderdale and former owner of the house, thought to be responsible for the suspicious deaths of both her husbands.
Surrounded by vast gardens and deer parks, the expansive grounds at Lyme Park aren’t just notable for their beauty and potential for a lovely Sunday ramble – they're also said to be the setting for a ghostly funeral procession that has been witnessed solemnly crossing the grass to the house. The procession is thought to be in honour of Lyme Park’s former owner, Piers Legh, injured in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, with his weeping mistress Blanche bringing up the rear.
During the Second World War, a group of young girls stayed at Chawton House to escape the bombs hitting London and they claimed that a 'Grey Lady ghost' would walk up and down the staircase. She has also been known to walk through the Tapestry Gallery. If that's not spooky enough for you, there are said to be witch marks etched across doors, walls and fireplaces. The good news is that they protect the house from evil spirits, so if the Grey Lady is a real ghost, she should be a friendly one.
The ghost of Lady Nunnington is said to haunt this North Yorkshire country retreat, apparently identifiable by the sound of her dress dragging along the floor as she moves through the halls. We’re not sure what she’s wearing but it must be pretty spectacular to make all that noise… and she isn’t alone. Nunnington is said to come alive at night with the sounds of whispering children in the attic, doors slamming of their own accord and books flying across the room, and even a shapeless dark mass has been spotted appearing out of the wall in one of the bedrooms. We fear you might be slightly outnumbered by spirits at this gorgeous hall, so better take your most seasoned ghost-busting squad if you brave a visit.
Seasoned supernatural enthusiasts will be familiar with ‘ghost ships’, a widely reported phenomenon of boats turning up either entirely missing their crew, or where the entire crew are, mysteriously, deceased… The collection at the National Maritime Museum is littered with spooky stories of such ships, such as the fictional legend of Octavius – where a ferocious ice storm tore apart the vessel Octavius and claimed the lives of its whole crew. There are plenty more similar stories to get your spine tingling as you explore the museum collection.
Ghastly noises, unexplained drops in temperature and supernatural sightings: the collection at the British Museum is said to be full of restless objects that, much like in the beloved film starring Ben Stiller, Night at the Museum, see the museum come alive at night… It seems Britain’s most popular tourist attraction is in fact just a smoke-screen for a commune of ghosts and ghouls, some of whom include history’s most celebrated figures. If that doesn’t entice you to check out the museum’s expansive permanent collection, nothing will.
Romantic poet Lord Byron’s former home is said to be bustling with phantoms, from ancestors of the great poet to a spirit who smells strongly of roses. Chief among the abbey’s ghosts is the White Lady, an apparition who roams the grounds, and believe it or not, Lord Byron himself has even been spotted in one of the bed chambers.
It is rumoured that there are up to seven spectres in residence at 'the most haunted house in the Midlands'. These include a seven-foot man dressed in a leather jerkin, believed to be the ghost of a Welsh freedom fighter, Owain Glyndwr. You might also come across a crying baby and a woman in a cap gazing from a window.
This Jacobean mansion, constructed in the early 17th century, is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts including the daughter of its former owner, Mary. The house's most notorious ghost, Mary was reportedly locked away by her father for 16 years for eloping with an illegitimate suitor, and her spirit continues to haunt the room in which she died. Alongside Mary, there is Dick, a young houseboy accused of stealing, and a mysterious woman in green, making Aston Hall one of the most haunted sites in the UK.
The more you see, the more we do.
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