Haunted Places in England

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From the dark underbelly of London’s back streets, damp and cold, and lit by only the dim light that filters through from the metropolitan canopy, to the Harry Potter castles of the home counties, highlands, and bucolic land stretches, that form the back garden of this Island country. England is riddled with some of the world’s most eerie, story inspiring destinations; a veritable myriad of ghost tales big and small.

So, if you’re curious about what lies in the depths of England’s ether, take a sneaky peak at some of these historically acclaimed haunted spots. Each has its own story to tell, from beady eyed daemons, to slow moving, white-clad apparitions, sceptres of a world that once was, echoing in the England of today.

First up, it’s perhaps the boss of all of London’s so called haunted graveyards: Highgate cemetery. Claiming more than 20 acres of north London, Highgate is a real necropolis within a metropolis to say the least. The most coveted burial ground for Victorians since its opening in 1839, the cemetery is now the resting ground for literally thousands of Londoners. In the last century, a severe yet somewhat aesthetically-cum-dilapidated degradation of the cemetery has allowed it to become a real mix of eerie shrub growths and mossy overflow, where the crude and unkempt gravestones gather dirt and slowly go subterranean. Over the years the cemetery has been a London press favourite, with ghostly sightings ranging from vengeful vampiric figures that course up and down Swain’s Lane, to love-locked spectral couples doused in ether of white.

Next, we head up North, to the west coast county of Lancashire, where the ostensibly pleasing contour of Pendle Hill rises from the grassy low-lands. Sometimes, the reputation of the place precedes itself, when a low mist clads the hill, and an eerie winter morning glow lights it to the back. It’s on these occasions that it’s easy to see why so many locals refuse flatly to scale the hill after dark, but that’s also because Pendle Hill was actually the venue for England’s largest ever witch trail, back in the 17th century; as many as 12 withes from the area were accused and tried! Today all manner of ghostly happenings keep locals afraid, and ghost hunters flocking, from spectral apparitions to hypnotic sounds that literally go bump in the night.

Just a few hours out of London, visitors will find the Red Lion Pub, in Avebury, Wiltshire. Perhaps, one of hundreds with the same name in England, this particular Red Lion was elevated to fame after patrons began leaving reports of curious happenings as they sipped away at their ales. From the curious appearance of orbs in photos, to the more enthralling tale of the Pub’s most famous resident ghost, Florrie, there’s plenty supernatural activity to discover here. It’s said that Florrie was the former resident of the building in the 17th century, when it was a modest farm house in the south of England. When her husband left to fight in the English civil war she took a lover, and predictably they were discovered when the husband returned unexpectedly; both met a gruesome end. Florrie’s body was cast into the well that sits inside the building, and it was then sealed by her vengeful husband with a stone. Today, you can sit and drink a traditional English beer, with the sealed well as your table – that is, if you dare!

Next, we head to somewhere a little more obvious on the list of England’s most haunted, the Tower of London. It’s easy to see where this one’s stories come from; the Tower is one of top 10 castles of England that was used as dungeon-cum-torture chamber at various periods from around 1100 AD to the end of the 18th century. It’s notable residents, now eerily sliding their way around the castle’s corridors and grounds, include the beheaded figure of Lady Jane Grey – once the de facto queen of the realm – the beheaded ghost of Ann Boleyn – once the wife and victim of one of England’s most notoriously womanizing monarchs, Henry VIII – and, the spy explorer of England’s so called golden age, Sir Walter Raleigh. Today, organised ghost tours of the tower are readily available, and a spookily knowledgeable guide can show visitors all the nooks and crannies of this particularly scary corner of the nation’s capital.

These are just a few of the places in England that, for whatever reason, have accumulated a reputation as centres of supernatural activity in the country. But, even if you aren’t a believer, head along just for the ride; these are some awesome sights in their own right – even without the ghostly players that have helped propel them to fame.