Haunted castles in England are, for those who love a good ghost story, an especially intriguing subset of the many fabulous English castles dotted around the UK.
These are sites where mystery and history meld with tales of ghoulish goings-on, each one creepy enough to send a chill down even a sceptic’s spine.
All five of the following castles has been called “the most haunted castle in England.” If you want to find out for yourself which one is the spookiest, you’ll just have to visit them all on an epic tour of England’s haunted castles…
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Tutbury Castle: Haunted Castle In The Heart Of England
Tutbury Castle in Burton-on-Trent, a landmark first recorded by Norman conquerors in 1071, has been the seat of a series of powerful families and host to numerous Kings of England.
Over the centuries the castle has been partially ruined and rebuilt, and today it’s open to the public for tours and activities.
Its remarkable heritage and scenic location overlooking the Dove Valley are appealing, but to those interested in haunted castles, oft-reported ghost sightings are a major draw.
Several ghosts are reported to haunt Tutbury Castle, tales convincing enough that it was featured in an episode of “Most Haunted.” One ghost is particularly notable – Mary Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned in the castle for more than 14 years before her beheading.
Mary’s writings reveal that she hated the cold, damp castle. Her ghost has been seen in the Great Hall, including one time in front of a 40-person tour group. Some witnesses mistook her for a historical reenactor.
Another ghostly resident is known as “The Keeper.” He unnerves visitors by barking “Get thee hence” in John the Gaunt’s Gateway. North Tower, Tutbury Castle
Berry Pomeroy Castle: Haunted Devonshire Castle
South Devon’s Berry Pomeroy Castle promises a double-whammy of delights: a ruined Elizabethan mansion within the walls of an also-ruined 15th-century castle, all set within a somewhat remote wooded valley.
The photogenic beauty of its crumbling, moss-covered stone structures is a major draw for visitors, as are the tales of hauntings by “the White Lady” and “the Blue Lady.” Like most haunted castles in England, Berry Pomeroy Castle has a long history high on drama.
The oldest fortifications on the site date back to the 15th century. Sir Thomas Pomeroy, who owned the original castle, sold it to Edward Seymour, the rich and powerful Duke of Somerset.
The Duke’s descendants built the manor house within the castle–and destroyed the medieval buildings in the process – from 1560. Ambitious plans for the grandest house in Devon never came to fruition, and the structure was abandoned by 1700.
Today, Berry Pomeroy Castle is still owned by the Duke of Somerset, a direct descendant of the Berry Pomeroy Seymours. It’s managed by English Heritage as a tourist attraction, with an audio tour that comes with potential ghostly encounters.
Paranormal happenings at Berry Pomeroy have been investigated on UK television in an episode of Most Haunted. You might see the White Lady, the ghost of Lady Margaret Pomeroy who perished in the dungeon where she was imprisoned by her jealous sister. Beware the Blue Lady, a spiteful, grief-filled ghost said to haunt a castle tower.
Chillingham Castle: The Most Appropriately Named English Castle
Along with claiming the most appropriate name for a haunted castle, Chillingham Castle has some of the bloodiest, most horrifying history in the annals of England.
Located near the Scottish border in the Northumberland countryside, Chillingham has been attacked umpteen times and hosted a series of Kings of England and Scotland.
It’s the known site for tens of thousands of executions, including the mass slaughter of men, women, and children at the end of the English and Scottish war.
Chillingham Castle is very old and remarkably well preserved. A stronghold since the 12th century, it was transformed into a fortified castle in 1344, with few changes to its exterior structure ever since George III.
Its interiors have been lavishly augmented over the centuries and hold many priceless treasures as well as family memorabilia.
Chillingham has been held by the same family since 1344. It’s now the family home of Sir Humphry Wakefield Bt. And The Hon. Lady Wakefield, and the castle and expansive grounds are open to the public for tours and a wide range of activities.
These include guided ghost tours of the castle and grounds, night tours, and overnight stays. Visitors have reported hearing whispers and cries, seeing apparitions and orbs of light, and feeling the touch of unseen hands.
Especially spooky spots include the Still Room, which features a painting of “the haunting witch” who will curse any thieves, and the Dungeon where prisoners left scratches in the thick walls and a trap door conceals the genuine bones of a child.
Don’t miss the Torture Chamber with its gruesome displays of equipment including an iron maiden, a bed of nails, stretching rack, and thumbscrews.
Hever Castle: Haunted By Anne Boleyn
Several ghosts are said to haunt Hever Castle in Kent, a grand monument built circa 1270.
There’s a phantom horse that gallops through the galleries at night, and a groaning, banging miserable ghost of unknown origins. But the most famous paranormal visitor to Hever Castle is its former resident, Anne Boleyn.
Purchased by her grandfather in 1460, the castle was Anne’s childhood home and the likely place of her birth.
It’s also the place where Henry VIII first laid his eyes on Anne, who would later become his second wife as well as the mother of Elizabeth I.
Her ghost has been seen mostly in the castle’s gardens, over the bridge that crosses the River Eden. She reportedly likes to visit on Christmas Eve.
Hever Castle is open for tours and offers playgrounds, a century-old yew maze, archery, jousting displays, and a lake where you can rent boats.
You can even stay overnight (if you dare!) in the castle’s luxury B&B or cottage, or book tickets for a ghost hunt.
Amid the scenic serenity of the Lake District sits one of the most haunted castles in England, Muncaster Castle and Gardens.
The Pennington family home since at least 1208, the property also contains Roman remains among its priceless artifacts.
Much of the castle that stands today dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, though significant renovations took place throughout the 19th century.
For example Henry VI took shelter in the castle in 1464 after the Battle of Hexham.
A notorious long-term resident, Tom the Fool, was a born trickster employed as the castle’s jester in the mid-16th century. His ghost, “The Fool,” continues to tease this century’s visitors, and he still gets the blame for curious occurrences.
Visitors have told of the sounds of a singing woman and crying child in the Tapestry Room, and the spectre of “the White Lady,” a.k.a. “the Muncaster Boggle” near the Main Gate where a young girl was murdered in the 1800s.
Muncaster Castle is open as an attraction, with tours available of the castle and gardens. Check the calendar for ghost tours and scientific ghost vigils, which invite members of the public to join paranormal experts for overnight investigations.