According to various legends, on one night in the “darker half” of the year it is easier for spirits, ancient gods and supernatural beings to find their way back into the world. That night is October 31, and is celebrated by festivals around the world.
Traditionally, candles, pumpkin lanterns and bonfires are lit to hold marauding spooks, spirits and demons at bay until November arrives and they are banished to the netherworld once more.
In some places, however, it seems as though you can’t keep a good ghost down no matter what the time of year. For anyone who enjoys the idea of testing their nerve, there are plenty of places to visit which host resident spirits, spectres and ghouls.
Here are some of the most haunted houses and places around the world picked by Alpha Holiday Lettings.
1. Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, England
This aptly-named haunted house is a medieval castle and former monastery, dating from the twelfth century.
Potential ghostbusters can tour the castle – hailed as the most haunted in the UK – in the hope of meeting resident spooks the Blue Boy (who witnesses claim appears as a halo of blue light), Lady Mary Berkeley who lived here in the seventeenth century, the White Pantry ghost and the Torturer.
2. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia, USA
Abandoned lunatic asylums are a staple of scary movies, but the real-life former Weston State Hospital for the insane does not disappoint. Opened in the mid-nineteenth century, this stark and imposing infirmary housed the mentally unstable, many of whom died here.
Countless reports of paranormal activity and inexplicable voices in the long-abandoned wards and treatment rooms suggest that the ghosts of former patients – and a young child called Lily, in particular – still roam the hospital.
3. The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Crucorney, South Wales
An inn since 1110, the Skirrid has a particularly disturbing history. The first floor served as the local courtroom where justice was served by George Jeffreys – the infamous seventeenth century “hanging judge”. Criminals found guilty and sentenced to death here were hanged from a wooden roof beam above the inn’s staircase.
One of the most haunted sites in the peaceful Welsh countryside, the Skirrid Inn is home to the ghosts of not only the judge, his hangman and one of his victims, a sheep-rustler named John Crowther, but also of clergyman Henry Vaughan, inn employee Fanny Price and the mysterious “White Lady”.
Visitors might like to think twice before asking for a spirit at the bar.
4. Dragsholm Castle, Zealand, Denmark
Dragsholm Castle has stood for more than 800 years. Although used as a hotel today, the castle’s long and turbulent history has invested the premises with several non-paying – and supernatural – guests. According to reported sightings Dragsholm may be haunted by more than 100 ghosts, but three in particular are renowned for their appearances.
The White Lady is the ghost of a pregnant girl whose remains (still on display today) were found in 1910, bricked up in the castle’s wall.
The Grey Lady is the ghost of a former employee who still patrols the castle to ensure everything is in order. James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, died a prisoner in the castle in 1578, spending the last 10 years of his life chained to a stone pillar.
Regular sightings of a spectral horse and carriage – possibly a hearse – travelling between the castle and the Farevejle church, which held Hepburn’s remains, have been reported.
5. The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, England
Built upon ancient Ley Lines and a Pagan burial ground in 1145, the Ram Inn’s claim to be one of England’s most haunted buildings is unsurprising. Among the ghosts who reputedly frequent this haunted hostelry are a witch who was burned at the stake in the sixteenth century, a Roman centurion on horseback and a monk who inhabits a room on the first floor.
If that’s not scary enough, the skeletons of children impaled with broken daggers were discovered beneath the inn’s staircase and, during his first night at the inn in 1968, current owner John Humphries claims he was grabbed by the arm and dragged from his bed by some unseen “demonic force”.
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