A Halloween Staycation Inspired by Horror Fiction: 8 Spooky Settings to Visit in England This Halloween
Updated On: October 06, 2022
Looking for a spooky Halloween staycation this year? England is host to its fair share of spooky stories and lots of horrifying horror novels have been inspired by its villages and castles. Read on to learn more about these classic horrors and their settings to find the perfect Halloween staycation spot. Want to learn more about Halloween? Check out our article on Samhain, the original celebration of Halloween.
Bath – The Landlady by Roald Dahl & Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Landlady by Roald Dahl
You may think of children’s books, giant peaches, and chocolate factories when you think of Roald Dahl, but that isn’t all he wrote. Until having children of his own Roald Dahl wrote fiction for grow ups including this spooky short story set in Bath.
This story sees a young man called Billy moving to the town of Bath for a new job where he ends up staying in a bed and breakfast which has a very unusual landlady. The bed and breakfast calls to him and he decides to stay only to find it filled with stuffed animals and fellow guests who never seem to leave.
Bath’s historic streets will help you immerse yourself in the creepy feel of this spooky tale just be sure you have somewhere safe to stay the night.
Haven’t read this spooky short story? You can read it online here.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s iconic science fiction novel was the making of a genre. The horrific monster, Frankenstein, and his creation did not roam the streets of Bath. However, Mary Shelley herself lived in Bath during the time she wrote this classic horror. The story of Frankenstein shows a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, trying to create the perfect specimen using parts from human bodies. The creation does not go to plan and Victor is forced to live with the consequences of his actions.
The House of Frankenstein is a fantastic experience for visitors to Bath any time of year but what better time than during your Halloween staycation? Learn more about Mary Shelley and her horror novel during daylight hours and be scared silly in this haunted house attraction after hours.
Colchester – Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine
Colchester’s history is very much like a Halloween party, dark and full of witches. Essex was the witching county of England for a time and had its own Witchfinder General, Mathew Hopkins. Many people who believe locations in Colchester to be haunted believe that the spirits left are those of women accused of witchcraft. Sadly, the treatment of these women was barbaric with confinement and forced standing as alternatives to traditional torture. Many women were accused and executed for witchcraft in a time of suspicion and neighborly distrust. These dark times, it is no surprise, have inspired many horror stories such as Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine.
This dark tale depicts a young woman moving into a cottage in Colchester only to find herself haunted by its original owner, who lived at the time of the witch hunts. As Halloween approaches she and the village rector find themselves influenced by this dark force. Can they stop it from consuming them and the people of the village? Take a trip to Colchester to learn more about its haunting history and landmarks. Ideal for a Halloween staycation.
Reportedly one of the most haunted building in Britain the historic Colchester castle has been a museum since 1860. If you are looking for a spooky season appropriate museum trip for your Halloween staycation why not check out their exhibit: Wicked Spirits?: Witchcraft & Magic at Colchester Castle. It’s on display there until January 2023 and is a great way to learn more about the real witchcraft history of England.
Looking for a family friendly Halloween activity in Colchester? Check out the ‘An Evening of Halloween Fun’ event at Colchester castle offering a trick or treat trail and plenty of spooky crafts to try. They also have a great fireworks display which is well worth the visit.
Cornwall – The Birds & Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Best known for Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation, The Birds was a post-war horror written by du Maurier about her home county of Cornwall. Get a feeling of emersion in this creepy classic in Cornwall’s seaside villages such as Bodinnick. The Birds captured a post-war fear of government failing to protect its citizens from aerial attack but the atmosphere of being attacked from above keeps its fear factor even now.
While planning your Halloween staycation in Cornwall you should consider checking out The Jamaica Inn. This historic coaching inn took du Maurier in for a short stay after she got lost in the dark while out horse riding. She was inspired the hotel to write one of her best known horrors by the same name. Jamaica Inn tells of a young girl called Mary who is captured by a wrecker, she discovers the dark secrets and cruelties of the world throughout this creepy novel.
The Jamaica Inn of today has been conserved to save the charm of its older rooms and offers up food and drink to travelers wanting to learn more about smuggling in Cornwall’s history and about Daphne du Maurier’s tale.
Dartmoor – Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Longstanding as one of the scariest of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, The Hound of the Baskervilles makes full use of the dark and spooky nature of Dartmoor. Involving a rich family cursed to be stalked by a mysterious black hound and the foggy and bleak setting of the moor it is a spooky tale for the ages.
Despite its creepy appearance Dartmoor is also a national park of stunning natural beauty. If you’re brave enough you may also want to try the wild camping they offer there. Just be aware of heavy fog and maybe keep your dog on a lead.
London – Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde & The Picture of Dorian Grey
This iconic and historic city is not-surprisingly the setting for a lot of classic horror and also home to spooky history which is far from fiction.
Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Louis Stevenson’s classic novel shows a scientist Dr Jekyll and the mysterious Mr Hyde who he is associated with. Mr Hyde commits several murders causing Dr Jekyll to try and sever ties between them but this is not so easy. London’s foggy streets pave the way for this atmospheric novel about morality and the horrors of science gone wrong.
With guided and individual walking tours of London you can walk in the footsteps of Mr Hyde and discover the locations of this iconic horror story. A truly unique experience for your Halloween staycation.
Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
A young Dorian Grey seeing a beautiful portrait of himself fears that it will one day be a bitter reminder of what he once looked like. He pledges his soul that the portrait may show his deeds and age rather than his own face. Oscar Wilde’s best known novel tells a tale of how a soul can be corrupted and the downfalls of vanity and the trappings of excess. Walk in the footsteps of Dorian Grey in the beautiful Berkeley Square, home to Dorian Grey’s uncle, Lord Fermor.
Fancy a spooky theatre trip for your Halloween staycation? You may be able to catch a showing of the Picture of Dorian Grey in one of London’s many theatres.
Other Spooky London Locations To Visit:
If you are visiting London for your spooky Halloween staycation why not check out these haunting locations in London.
This Victorian Gin palace is reportedly haunted by a variety of ghosts, including one which steals drinks so if you visit, keep an eye on your pint. Besides the potentially haunted nature of the pub it has a creepy history due to its location. In the Victorian era it was located next to a gaol house and right cross the street from the gallows. All sorts of people from around gathered in the Viaduct Tavern for a nice breakfast and a show on execution days. The regulars in this pub may be a little spooky but at least you can enjoy a nice gin or a pint?
Jack the Ripper Trail
One of the most infamous serial killers in the world and an unsolved cold case to this day. Who is Jack the Ripper we may never know. However, due to the intense search for him at the time we know a lot about where he did his killings and the area police believe he lived. This macabre tour of London puts you in the footsteps of the ripper and his 5 canonical victims.
Black Lion Lane & Black Lion Pub
In the early 1800s the village of Hammersmith was plagued with a ghost which would walk the streets. Some local men, including a man called Francis Smith, decided they were going to hunt down this ghost and shoot it. Unfortunately, a bricklayer called Thomas Millwood wore white clothing for his work and was mistaken for a ghost. Francis Smith shot at Millwood and he was killed. We may never know if the haunting of Hammersmith was a prank played by locals or not but there remains a plaque at Black Lion Pub where Millwood’s body was taken to commemorate his loss. An interesting peice of ghost history for your halloween staycation.
Hampshire – Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Inspired by the haunting of the historic Hinton Ampner house in Hampshire, Henry James brought to live the haunting walls of Bly Manor. A young governess aims to protect her young charges from the ghost of their previous governess, Miss Jessel. The darkness of Bly corrupts the children leaving the governess trapped by her own heroism in this dark place.
This chilling tale has been brought to live in Netflix’s Haunting of Bly Manor, a truly frightening adaptation. Fairly accurate to the book but filmed in the US.
The original inspiration can be visited in Hampshire at the national trust run Hinton Ampner, a historic estate and gardens. Take a walk through the gardens and watch out for governesses or ghosts while enjoying the fall weather.
Whitby – Dracula by Bram Stoker
An epistolary novel telling the story of Jonathan Harker, a real estate agent, going on a business trip to consult with the reclusive Count Dracula. Following a less than ideal visit with the Count, Jonathan’s letters stop leading into the diary entries of his fiancé Mina who is concerned about her friend Lucy. Lucy is having trouble sleeping following the arrival of a seemingly empty boat in the port town of Whitby and a bat? at her window. One of the most iconic horror stories of all time in the setting of a quaint port town. Whitby is a great choice for your Halloween staycation.
Whitby is forever linked to this famous novel and offer up Dracula experiences walking you through this creepy tale. They even have a Whitby Goth Weekend a few dates per year (including the weekend of Halloween) to celebrate the goth culture around this gothic horror novel setting. Why not read some entries from this novel while walking the streets of Whitby, and make sure to pack some garlic!
If you enjoy the story of Dracula, why not read it daily with Dracula Daily next year? This interesting literature project sends you daily emails when entries are written in the book, giving you a newsletter of the events of the novel. An innovative new way to read this classic novel and a great way to run up to Halloween. Starting on May 3rd and running to November 7th.
Halloween is a great time to enjoy horror stories, films, and locations and get a little bit spooked. Why not visit one of these Halloween staycation spots and enjoy a bit of spooky spirit this Halloween season? Want more ideas for spooky vacations? Check our our article on European places to spend Halloween.