If anywhere in the world has a reputation for being haunted, it’s the entire isle of Britain. It seems that around every corner there awaits another ghost, poltergeist, or unexplained paranormal phenomena just dying to make you jump out of your skin.
Naturally, thousands of years of war and famine accompanied by hundreds of years of preservation and relative peace have meant that haunted locales have really stacked up all around the United Kingdom. Here are 10 of the most haunted houses (though, some of these places are more like palaces than houses) in the UK worth visiting… if you dare.
10 Skaill House: Sandwick, Scotland
In northern Scotland, near the stone-age village Skara Brae, is the very majestic and very haunted manor house, Skaill House. It was built in the early 17th century and is the home of a number of restless spirits. Guests have reported the sensation of someone sitting on the corner of their beds when no one else was in the room. Dogs seem to be especially susceptible to these interactions; more than one human has reported that their dogs began acting strangely in Skaill House.
In the late 1990s, 15 graves were found underneath the east porch while the house was being renovated. Archaeologists think they're Pictish graves from the 7th century. Maybe some of these distant ancestors are still angry about their graves being disturbed and bug the house’s guests as revenge.
9 The Enfield House: Enfield, England
You may have heard this name before from the movie Conjuring 2. It was a dramatization of a haunting that captured the nation’s attention for nearly two years. The house in Enfield, England has been investigated by several paranormal investigators and over 30 witnesses have talked about the poltergeist. Reportedly, heavy furniture moved on its own, strange knocking on the walls could be heard, and two of the four children who lived there were seen levitating several feet off the ground more than once.
Whether the poltergeist was real or an elaborate (and long-running) hoax of the girls, it remains one of the most discussed tales of supernatural activity.
8 The Cage: St. Osyth, Essex, England
Today, the house is dubbed "the most haunted in England," but in the late 1500s, it was used as a prison. 13 “witches” were kept in the medieval prison while they waited for their day in court. Three of them were found guilty and hanged, and some believe that their spirits have lingered at their last earthly prison.
The most recent owner of the house said that she was plagued by the ghosts while she lived there. She lived there for four years and but fled the house in 2008 after the paranormal activity got to be too much. As of this writing, the house is still up for sale.
7 Raynham Hall: Raynham, England
Lady Dorothy Townshend, born Dorothy Walpole, died at Raynham Hall in 1726. Legend has it that her life ended very tragically: her husband Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend, locked her in Raynham Hall when he believed that she had committed adultery with Lord Thomas Wharton, a man notorious for his debauchery. No one knows how long she was locked inside the home, but she eventually died there of smallpox.
Today she’s known as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, nicknamed for the brown brocade dress witnesses say she wears. Stories of her existence date back to 1835, but the legend became famous when photographers from Country Life magazine published a photo of her spirit in 1936.
6 Sker House: Bridgend, Wales
In the early 1000s, Sker House housed Cistercian monks. After Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries, the monastery went through a ton of changes, including a bunch of construction that seems to rouse spirits that had been resting there for centuries.
There are many dark figures and scary shadows lurking in corners, but the most famous ghost story concerns a young girl called Elizabeth Williams. She fell in love with a poor boy from the surrounding village, but her father forbade her from seeing him. When he caught them together anyway, he locked her in her bedroom and refused to let her free until she married another man worthy of her station. She died of a broken heart a few years later, and since then guests have heard high-pitched wails and sobbing coming from her bedroom.
5 Melville Castle: Dalkeith, Scotland
Just outside of Edinburgh is a beautiful and well-preserved castle. It was once one of the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her lover David Rizzio. Several places in the hotel are said to be haunted. The ghost of Queen Mary is said to pass through the bar, potentially looking for her murdered lover. (Though she’s looking in the wrong place—Rizzio was murdered right in front of her at her other palace, Holyroodhouse.)
Room 106 is said to be the most haunted room in the castle. Guests have reported ghostly apparitions hanging upside down in the corner, water running from the faucets without being turned on, banging on the walls, and more.
4 Hampton Court Palace: Molesey, England
There are many tales of ghostly apparitions and supernatural occurrences in this old castle, mostly centered around the time of Henry VIII’s reign. The most well-documented one is the story of Catherine (sometimes called Kitty) Howard. She was Henry’s fifth wife and, like her cousin Anne Boleyn, was facing being accused of witchcraft so he could be rid of her and move on to his sixth wife.
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Legend has it that when Kitty found out, she burst away from her guards and ran through his private apartments to the chapel to plead for her life. That hallway is now a gallery, but visitors to the palace say they can still hear Kitty running through and screaming for mercy.
3 Borley Rectory: Essex, England
Like many of the other houses on this list, residents of Borley have been hearing things go bump in the night for centuries. One of the earliest recorded accounts of supernatural bad behavior comes from 1862 when the Reverend Henry Bull and his family heard bells ringing and rapping noises coming from inside the walls.
Legend has it that a young woman went to Borley to try to elope with a monk, but the lovers were caught. He was hanged for the crime, and she was apparently bricked into the walls alive and left to starve to death. The knocking must be her spirit trying to escape, even after all these years.
2 Athelhampton House: Puddletown, Dorchester, England
Athelhampton House was built in the 15th century by Sir William Martyn. Today, it’s considered one of the most haunted houses in the county. Apparently, two ghostly duelists haunt the Great Chamber, where they once interrupted a female guest who was trying to relax there with a book. In another room, a ghostly monk is seen hanging around the corridors, looking for the Martyn family.
Tapping occasionally comes from the wine cellar from a ghost everyone refers to as "Cooper." If you listen closely while visiting, you may also be able to hear the scratching of a pet ape who was accidentally entombed in the walls behind the Great Chamber.
1 Chillingham Castle: Northumberland, England
Is it hard to believe this ancient castle could be haunted when it was chilling right there in the name? It’s so close to the border of England and Scotland that it must have seen some serious warfare and death when England was taking over Scotland generations ago. Now it’s billed as Britain’s Most Haunted Historic Castle, full of ghosts that anyone could see on a stay. There are Torture Chamber experiences and evening Ghost Tours for guests to enjoy.
The White Panty Ghost has been asking guards and guests for water for centuries—people think she was probably poisoned, hence her eternal thirst. Whispers of people talking can be heard in the Chapel beside the Great Hall, and the rattling of shackles can still be heard in the creepy dungeons where untold numbers of prisoners awaited their fates.