Get spooky this Halloween at these haunted museums and historic houses
We’re marking Halloween with the spookiest, most sensational ghost stories on the art scene. Here’s our pick of the best haunted houses and museums you can visit now.
Paranormal puppies, murderous apparitions and an entire ghostly procession are just some of the supernatural sightings at the UK’s museums and historic houses. Have you got the guts to check them out?
Boiler-suit up ghostbusters, as it’s nearly Halloween, when 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.
Ham House is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the UK, with a whopping 15 ghosts roaming its decorated halls. The sinister mist that cloaks the cherry garden in winter is rumoured to reveal ghoulish figures, from Dukes and Duchesses to servants and soldiers, while a strange scent has been known to float down the corridors... But its crowning glory is as the home of one of the art world’s most adorable ghosts: a paranormal puppy searching for its owner, another Ham House ghost, the vengeful Duchess of Lauderdale.
- Greater Manchester
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 the setting for a ghostly funeral procession that has been witnessed solemnly crossing the grass to the house. The procession is in honour of Lyme Park’s former owner, Piers Legh, injured in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, with his ‘wailing’ mistress Blanche bringing up the rear.
If you get your kicks being chased around a Palladian mansion by a woman in white brandishing a hunting knife, Clandon Park could be just the place for you. Now a dramatic ‘modern ruin’, after a fire sadly destroyed parts of the house a few years ago, the crumbling walls of this remarkable property have been haunted since the late-1800s by its former mistress. One of the rumours is she's a bit put out that she died before seeing her house completed, but will surely be feeling a bit cheerier these days as Clandon Park is undergoing an extraordinary restoration. It’s currently unclear what or who she's looking for, so if you do see her, best give her a wide berth.
Note: The house at Clandon Park is closed for renovation, but the gardens are open and available to visit.
- Greater Manchester
Not content with haunting houses, ghosts are now staking their claim to some of the UK’s most celebrated museums. At Manchester Museum a bizarre phenomenon is reported to have taken place in 2013, as a 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue started spinning in its cabinet, turning its back on visitors. There has been no explanation of what could have caused the grumpy Pharaoh to have such a strong reaction to this particular group of museum-goers, but unfortunately for his highness, the incident was caught on film. This strange happening attracted a lot of attention and subsequent failed attempts to find an explanation, with even professor Brian Cox weighing into the debate.
- Greater London
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.
- North Yorkshire
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 and a raucous party downstairs, 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.
- Greater London
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 legend of Octavius – where a ferocious ice storm tore apart the vessel Octavius, and is said to have claimed the lives of its whole crew; even, sadly, the beloved on-board pets. We’re not sure if the ship itself haunts the National Maritime Museum, or if in fact a ship can be a ghost, but for the sake of it being nearly Halloween, let’s say that it does – because a ghost boat has got to be up there with some of the most impressive reported apparitions.