Here are the 11 Most Haunted Castles in England
Chillingham Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in England, and as the name suggests, can send a ‘chill’ down visitors’ spines. There has been a large collection of ghosts and apparitions seen by visitors over the years. Remarkably, it is possible to stay at Chillingham Castle, so no doubt this is not for the faint hearted, along with the ‘torture chamber’ and evening Ghost Tours. Situated in the north of England, not far from the Scottish border, Chillingham Castle has been in the same family since the 1200s. Originally a monastery, it has a history full of battles and royal visits as well as being the site of thousands of executions and the mass slaughter at the end of the English and Scottish war. Today it is the family home of Sir Humphry Wakefield and The Hon. Lady Wakefield and it attracts ghost hunters from far and wide.
If you’re looking for a less spooky house to stay in from where you can visit Chillingham Castle, one of Britain’s most haunted castles, why not try Thirlestane Castle which is 1 hours drive away or Bughtrig House which is just 40 minutes drive away.
2. WINDSOR CASTLE, BERKSHIRE
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in Europe. Having been home to royalty for centuries, it is currently the residence of Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II. Several previous occupants of Windsor Castle have never left and so it is also home to various Royal ghosts including Queen Elizabeth I, King George III, King Charles I and even King Henry VIII. Charles I having been imprisoned at Windsor Castle before Christmas in 1648 was then trialed and beheaded in London in January 1649. His body was returned to Windsor Castle to be buried with Henry VIII and Jane Seymour and while his coffin was being carried towards the end of the chapel, a black cloud descended and a blizzard swirled overhead turning the black pall over the coffin to white. Many believed this was a divine sign of his innocence.
Farleigh House is a wonderfully comfortable country house in Hampshire from which to base yourselves if you would like to visit Windsor Castle.
3. MUNCASTER CASTLE, CUMBRIA
Muncaster Castle and lands have been in the Pennington family since 1208 although some records suggest that the family have been there since 1026. The castle and historic gardens are impressive and an important part of the Lake District and Cumbria’s history. The Pennington family gave shelter in 1464 to King Henry VI after the Battle of Hexham. He was so grateful that he left his drinking bowl, made of Venetian glass, as a gesture of thanks stating that as long as the bowl remained intact, the family would live and thrive in the castle. It is known as the “Luck of Muncaster” and today remains whole.
The castle is also the only castle in the UK which still appoints an official “Fool”. This tradition of having a Fool or Jester dates back for many, many centuries with Muncaster Castle’s best known Fool being Thomas Skelton from the mid-16th Century. Some say that Thomas Skelton is the original Tom Fool from Shakespeare’s King Lear, although records are scarce and the date evidence means it is unlikely. However, he was clearly a much loved servant of the Pennington family as a portrait was commissioned of him which hangs there today. Legend also suggests that he could have had another side to him rather than just being the ‘jolly old fool’ as he may have been told to murder a local carpenter who was showering his affections on Sir Alan Pennington’s daughter. Today, Tom Skelton’s spirit is said to haunt the castle with his heavy footsteps and the dragging of a body (said to be the unfortunate carpenter) up the stairs. If you would like to see for yourself, there are paranormal ghost tours organized at the castle for intrigued visitors!
A great place to stay that is only 1 hours drive away from Muncaster Castle is Silverholme Manor, and if you’re happy to travel a little further in the hope of experiencing some paranormal activity, is Brownber Hall in Cumbria.
4. BERRY POMEROY CASTLE, DEVON
Built in the late 15th Century by the Pomeroy family who had inhabited the lands since the 11th Century, Berry Pomeroy Castle is now a romantic ruin situated in the middle of a deep wooded valley which can be particularly spooky at night. The Seymour family bought the castle in 1547 and ambitiously enlarged the castle into a huge Elizabethan mansion in the 1600s, with the intention of rivalling Longleat and Audley End. These grand plans were never completed and the project was abandoned by 1700. Jane Seymour, sister of Edward Seymour who originally bought Berry Pomeroy Castle, became Henry VIII’s third wife and produced his son and heir, King Edward VI and is buried next to him in the St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Today the castle is the source of horrible ghost stories and mysterious happenings in amongst the ruined ramparts and it is a very popular English Heritage visitor attraction. Legend has it that two Pomeroy brothers rode their horses to the top of the castle ramparts and threw themselves to their deaths to escape capture by their enemies. Various visitors to the site today have taken photographs which show mysterious, ghostly apparitions that they can’t explain.
5. TUTBURY CASTLE, STAFFORDSHIRE
Having been in ruins since 1648, Tutbury Castle is a medieval castle probably best known for being one of Mary Queen of Scots’ prisons. Tutbury Castle’s unfortunate guest was imprisoned here four times before her execution at Fotheringay Castle in 1587. Many visitors today claim to have seen Mary Queen of Scots, who was beheaded by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I for treason, among the ruins of the castle. She had a succession of ‘keepers’ sent to make sure she had little contact with the outside world and wasn’t able to escape, and again there have been sightings of a ‘keeper’ shouting instructions!
6. DOVER CASTLE, KENT
A castle of huge significance due to it’s prominent position and important role in the defense of England, from many centuries ago right up until World War II. The castle as we know it today was built by Henry II in the 12th Century, and is a medieval palace said to be as big as Windsor Castle. There has been plenty of action over the years in the castle and visitors claim to have seen the lower half of a man walking through the King’s Bedchamber, the ghost of a crying woman in the west stairway of the keep and a blue figure in the mural gallery. Also, people have heard the sounds of drumming which are said to be those of a drummer boy who was murdered by two soldiers who wanted the money he was carrying on an errand. There are tunnels under the castle which have many spooky stories to tell and there have been plenty of sightings of ghosts in them. This has to be one of the most haunted castles in the UK having seen so much action over the centuries.
7. PENGERSICK CASTLE, CORNWALL
Pengersick Castle dates back to the 16th Century having been built by a man named Milliton. He had committed murder and was fleeing from justice and built the castle facing the sea at Pengersick on land that had been inhabited by the Pengersick family from the 12th Century. It is now used as an events venue and is surrounded by wild and generous landscaped gardens sitting in its wonderful Cornish cove between Penzance and Helston. There are many supernatural legends that surround the castle, one being that the ghost of John Milliton haunts the castle, having tried to poison his wife who switched cups with him. There are stories of devil-worship, monks being murdered as well as plague pits providing plenty of potential for ghosts and hauntings. This historic castle would be the perfect place to visit this Halloween.
8. DUDLEY CASTLE, WEST MIDLANDS
Dudley Castle dates all the way back to just after the Norman Conquest when it was originally built as a wooden motte and bailey castle. The castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th Century only to be demolished by Henry II. The ruins that we can see today were constructed in the late 13th Century and then destroyed by fire in 1750. Today the ruins sit on the land belonging to Dudley Zoo and the castle attracts ghost hunters from far and wide, claiming it to be one of the most haunted places in the world. This is another castle reputed to have the ghost of a ‘drummer boy’ who was killed during the English Civil War and for those who see or hear him, it is considered to be bad luck. Supposedly, there is also a ‘Grey Lady’ haunting the ruined walls, and she is thought to be Dorothy Beaumont who died shortly after giving birth and whose last requests were never granted.
9. HEVER CASTLE, KENT
Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, Hever Castle was originally built in 1270. The Boleyns were one of the most powerful families in the country at one time, and lived at Hever Castle in the 15th and 16th Centuries; it was they who added the Tudor dwelling within the walls. On the death of Anne Boleyn’s father, the castle was bequeathed to Henry VIII who gave it to Anne of Cleeves as part of his settlement to her on the annulment of their marriage. It then passed through various families before being bought by William Waldorf Astor in 1903 who used it as a family residence and gave it a much needed restoration both inside and out. Steeped in history, it is now a visitor attraction and holds annual events drawing on the wonders of its mazes, gardens and lakes. It is said that Anne Boleyn haunts the castle today and that her favorite spot is the old wooden bridge over the River Eden.
A great place to stay from which to visit this historical castle is Cowdray Park, just 1 hour and 20 minutes drive away.
10. CARLISLE CASTLE, CUMBRIA
Another castle that acted as prison for Mary Queen of Scots is Carlisle Castle in Cumbria. Built over 900 years ago, it has been the scene of many historical activities over the years. There was a real need for a castle to be built given the proximity to the Scottish/English border and originally, a Norman style motte and bailey castle was built on the top of an old Roman fort in 1093. Between 1122-1135, a stone fortress replaced the original castle and the city walls were constructed too as there was a constant risk of the Scots invading and the castle changed hands several times over many years. During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, there were the most important battles for the city of Carlisle and the castle was seized by the Jacobites on their way south only to be recaptured by George IIs English troops pushing the Jacobites back up north before jailing and executing them. After 1746, the castle was largely neglected, however, from 1851 various military regiments have had their headquarters at Carlisle Castle including latterly The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment.
Visitors have reported seeing various ghostly sightings over the years but the most frequent reports state that there is a sentry sitting on guard just inside the archway of the inner keep.
11. FARLEIGH CASTLE, SOMERSET
Although only ruins, Farleigh Castle in Somerset is situated just 9 miles from Bath in the valley of the River Frome. The castle was built in the 1400s and lived in by the Hungerford family for 300 years with many tales of gruesome goings on. There are plenty of hidden treasures to discover including rare medieval wall paintings, family tombs and the best collection of human shaped lead coffins in Britain. Within the coffins are the embalmed remains of four men, two women and two children, all thought to be members of the Hungerford family. A visit to the crypt is a spooky trip into the past.
These are only a few of the most haunted castles to visit in England, there are many more! If you would like us to plan a ghost hunting or haunting trip to England, we would love to put this together for you and can help you make the most of your time in England. We have some fabulous (not spooky or haunted!) country houses and manors for you to stay in so that you can explore the supernatural from the safety of where you are staying.
Please contact us on + 44 (0) 1835 824642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.