Haunted houses are not for the faint-hearted – but we’re not talking the kind you’ll find with ghost trains in fairgrounds.
We’re talking real-life countryside manors and stately homes that have been the setting for gruesome murders, creepy tales and plenty of mysterious goings-on.
Centuries have passed since some of the events, but there are tales of tormented spirits hanging around, watching over the property… or trying to scare off guests.
If you’re looking for a good scare, there are plenty of haunted houses across the UK where you can go in search of ghosts.
Of course, visit at your own risk…
(Looking for more spooky fun? We’ve also rounded up some of the top Halloween events to have on your radar this year).
1. Skaill House, Orkney
Both visitors and staff at this historic house have reported strange sounds, mystery footsteps, doors opening and closing of their own accord and even smells.
The spirit of ‘Ubby’ who built the small island centuries ago by rowing out and dropping stones is said to haunt the premises, and there have also been sightings of reflections of a man who doesn’t exist.
When Skaill House was first prepared to open to the public, 15 skeletons were discovered under the floorboards, dating back to the Norse period – it’s believed the grounds previously served as a graveyard.
2. Ham House, Surrey
In the 17th century this home was the residence of Elizabeth Murray, an ambitious and ruthless Duchess. There were plenty of rumours surrounding the Duchess, especially around the deaths of certain people which conveniently helped her climb the social ladder.
Visitors have reported hearing footsteps or inexplicably smelling roses, or even hearing screams.
Pets are often reluctant to enter, and guests often tell staff they find the ground floor rooms to have a strangely oppressive atmosphere.
3. Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire
Head to Samlesbury Hall and you’ll find tales of ghosts and witches awaiting you.
The ghost of the White Lady, Dorothy Southworth, is said to reside here after she died of a broken heart, with plenty of reported sightings. Some visitors have also claimed to see mysterious shadows, or feel a slap on the back of the head despite nobody being there.
A firm favourite with ghost hunters, the hall has also appeared on TV shows such as ‘Most Haunted’.
Meanwhile, Samlesbury itself is linked to the witch trials of the 1600s, when three innocent women were maliciously accused. Despite no witnesses, they were kept locked up and interrogated, although thankfully they were eventually released.
4. Treasurer’s House, Yorkshire
Keep an eye out for the ghosts of Roman soldiers said to wander around the cellars of the property.
The most famous account comes from retired policeman Harry Martindale’s account, who is said to have heard a trumpet and seen soldiers marching past. Running away terrified, he bumped into the curator who reportedly said: ‘By the look of you, you’ve seen the Romans!’
The spookiest part? Subsequent archaeological research unearthed evidence of a Roman road a few inches below the cellar floors.
5. Speke Hall, Liverpool
Lady Mary inherited the house in the 1730s, and married Lord Sidney Beauclerk, known for living life to excess. Unfortunately, he gambled away the family fortune.
Legend has it that Lady Mary, overcome with grief and anger, threw her infant son out of the window into the moat below, before committing suicide in the Great Hall.
Since then, some visitors have claimed to have seen her ghost wandering through the house.
Others have reported a feeling of nausea when entering the Great Hall, while dark shadowy figures have been seen. There are also reports of the sound of crying children, despite the hall being empty.
6. Abbotsford House, Scottish Borders
The former home of Sir Walter Scott doesn’t have malevolent ghosts, but there have been reports of supernatural activity, including from the novelist himself.
For example, Sir Walter Scott and his wife reported hearing sounds of heavy furniture being dragged across the floor one night, only to find nobody there when they investigated. The next morning, it was revealed that their cabinet maker had passed away that very night, in the early hours of the morning.
Another ghostly sighting is said to have been that of the poet Byron, spotted in the library.
7. Newton House, Carmarthenshire
There are said to be various spirits residing at this haunted home, from a Baron whose tobacco pipe you can supposedly smell next to his portrait (but only on Sundays), to Lady Eleanor, who was strangled to death in the house’s nursery and whose murderer is said to have killed himself out of guilt.
Some visitors report a cold sensation when they enter the nursery, while others say they have felt hands grip their necks.
8. Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk
Ghost hunters will want to head straight to the library where the spirit of former resident and bookworm William Windham III is said to hang out.
In fact, it’s believed that the avid reader has remained in the library in a bid to try and read all of the titles in the collection.
The rumour is that he only appears if a particular combination of books are placed on the library table.
9. Chartwell House, Kent
Sir Winston Churchill used to live in this home, and it was the former Prime Minister himself who once reported a strange encounter.
Sir Winston was copying a portrait of his father in his studio, when he became aware of a strange presence – and suddenly, he could see the ghost of his father in the nearby armchair.
10. Mapperton House, Somerset
Mapperton House isn’t particularly famed for its ghosts, but former resident Princess Victoria von Preussen claimed that a ‘ghost cat’ would cause mischief when she was there.
According to Tatler, she said that the cat could be spotted on the armchair – or knocking items off the shelves.
Nowadays, come Halloween the manor hosts a creepy Halloween trail for families in its gardens – complete with a witch’s cottage.