Are there haunted castles in England? Are the rumours true?! Let’s remember our favourite fairy tales; we’ve all read the stories as children and know that the favourite haunted places are usually old castles, fortresses, and royal palaces. Be that as it may, every castle is haunted by its spirit and sometimes, according to legends, by ghosts.
If we are to speak of haunted castles, what’s a better place to start with other than England? Rumour has it that there are several haunted castles in England with some seriously terrifying stories! These castles have a thorough bloody history and are haunted by things that science can’t explain, frightening groundskeepers, gatekeepers, and other ghosts. But it is precisely this horror that attracts tourists.
While we might not know whether these castles are really haunted, there’s no harm in learning more about them. So, what are the haunted castles in England, anyway? Coming up next are five famous castles best known for being haunted in England!
Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire
Starting with the castle voted as the creepiest spot in England, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire is rumoured to have a ghost of a boy who not only appears to guests but also holds their hands! The castle is actually built on a cemetery and overlooks the city of Bolsover, which was regarded by many as the “Satanic capital of Britain” and “hotbed of Satanism.”
Besides the infamous ghost boy, there have been claims of many other inexplicable things, like footsteps that appear out of nowhere, muffled voices, slamming of doors, and spine-chilling shouts!
But looking beyond its spooky tales, Bolsover Castle was founded in the 12th century, and over the years, it belonged to many English noble families until 1883, when it became uninhabited.
The Tower of London
Perhaps the most haunted castle in England is the famous Tower of London. It’s quite hard to associate this world-famous attraction with eerie tales, but the Tower of London has many of them!
The famous tower was the main English prison for VIP figures until 1820. If you think about it, it’s not surprising that its gloomy casemates are haunted by several ghosts who regularly show themselves in our realm.
The tales of this haunted castle are numerous, but let’s start with the mysterious story of one of the tower’s ghosts, which was told by Lenthal Swift, the custodian of the royal family jewels. It took him 43 years after the event to actually dare to tell the story. Before that, the authorities did not allow the disclosure of details of the incident to the public. Here’s what happened:
In 1814, Swift was appointed custodian of the royal treasures. During those days, the royal jewels were in the tower, and it was customary for the keeper and his family to live there.
One Saturday evening in 1817, the whole family was having dinner in the living room of the storehouse. Lenthal handed his wife a glass of wine and water and told her to sit across from him. She put the glass to her lips and suddenly froze while looking behind her husband. Swift turned and saw a ‘cylindrical figure floating.’
Another well-known ghost story linked to the Tower is that of the Countess of Salisbury. According to numerous eyewitnesses, the most striking and terrifying sight at the castle is the execution scene of the Countess, whom King Henry VIII beheaded. This nightmarish spectacle can only be seen on the anniversary of the execution.
The Countess’ ghost can allegedly be seen very clearly. When the executioner’s ghost approaches her, even her frantic screams can be heard. After the execution, the gruesome vision disappears!
Another famous ghost is that of the White Lady, renowned for her cheap perfume that sometimes makes visitors feel sick! On other accounts, people claimed that this White Lady waved at children from the window!
Not to mention the story of the Princes of the Tower, the two young princes, Edward and Richard. After the death of their father, King Edward IV, their uncle, Duke of Gloucester, locked them in the famous Tower, consequently becoming Richard III. There are several stories about what happened next. Some say they never heard of them again, while others say their uncle ordered their killing.
Legend has it that ghosts of the two young princes have been seen a lot. Some recall seeing them in their nightgowns holding hands, and other accounts claim they have seen the princes playing around!
Saving the best for last, among about half a dozen ghosts that periodically appear in the twilight corridors of the Tower —perhaps the most famous— is the ghost of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of the wife-killing King Henry VIII!
In 1536, Boleyn was accused of incest and adultery and was sentenced to death by beheading. At the time, beheading was usually carried out by an axe in England. However, the monarch decided to test the French method of execution, in which heads were cut off with a sword. For this purpose, a special executioner, who knew his job well, was brought in.
According to the customs of the time, the head of the executed man was displayed for all to see. But an exception was made for Anne. It looks like Anne’s torment continued after her death, as the spirit of the executed Queen appeared from time to time in the Tower of London for several centuries. And it always happened on the eve of the date of her death.
Anne Boleyn’s ghost is said to be the most “industrious and restless” English ghost. Eyewitnesses reported that her spirit shimmered with a whitish light. Well, she was a queen, after all!
Corfe Castle in Dorset
With a history spanning 900 years, the haunted Corfe Castle in the village of the same name has seen many tragic episodes unfold within its walls. Its now-ruined outline is the perfect setting for some spooky, ghostly legends that still disturb the place.
Corfe Castle’s most famous ghost is a headless White Lady who is said to haunt the castle grounds and chill the blood of visitors who cross her shadow. This White Lady is said to be a member of the Bankes family, former owners of the castle, who defended the house during the Civil War in the 17th century before being betrayed by a staff member.
Carisbrooke Castle is a castle in the central Isle of Wight, the seat of England’s King Charles I from 1647 to 1648. The castle is located in the village of Carisbrooke in the southwestern part of Newport, the main town of the Isle of Wight.
In 1100, Carisbrooke was given to Richard de Revere, who may have been a companion of William the Conqueror. He and his descendants greatly enlarged the former fortification known since Anglo-Saxon times, turning it into a motte-and-bailey castle.
There have been countless stories about the ghosts and spirits of the haunted castle. The most famous of which is the Grey Lady ghost. Her ghost is usually seen wearing a long dark cloak. No one knows who that lady is, but something known for sure is how spooky her ghost is, giving whoever sees her a spine-chilling feeling!
However, the scariest story of the haunted castle would be the one told by a group of friends who went to explore the castle and its ghosts one day. The group recounts that they were about to head home after a long night of finding nothing. Suddenly, they saw a scary figure of a man wearing all black with a shroud and a cloak covering him, telling them to leave this place in a very unsettling voice!
The story is known as the Reaper of the Carisbrooke Castle!
Nestling in the village of Chillingham in the northern English county of Northumberland, near the Scottish border, Chillingham Castle is a famous medieval castle. The first fortress on the site was built in the 12th century, but it took two centuries for Chillingham to become a fully fortified castle. From the 15th century until WWII, it was home to the aristocratic families of Gray and Bennett.
The Chillingham Castle is one of the most famous haunted castles in the United Kingdom. Well, the castle has the word “chilling” within its name, so of course, something is spooky about it!
Tourists visit Chillingham Castle primarily because of the legends of the ghosts who live there. Three ghosts are rumoured to live at the castle: The Blue Boy, John Sage, and Lady Marey Berkeley.
The Blue Boy is the most common sight to be found here. According to eyewitness accounts, they heard weird screams and noises in the Pink Room of the castle, followed by a blue glow resembling the boy’s silhouette.
The spirit of John Sage, on the other hand, is said to be found in his former Torture Coom. Sage was one of Chillingham’s former owners, and many regard him as the most gruesome ghost in England. He is said to have been the torturer and executioner of many prisoners, to the extent that he filled the chamber with his own torture toys! He was, however, met with the same destiny after accidentally strangling his mistress, the daughter of the leader of the Border Reivers, one of the powerful groups of warriors back then.
Because he didn’t want to lose the Reivers, King Edward I handed Sage to the young woman’s father. Sage was then hanged at Chillingham and, because he was very much hated, was mutilated and torn apart by his haters.
The final ghost is that of Lady Mary Berkeley; she was another former owner of the castle who refused to leave it! The Lady was abandoned by her husband, who went after her sister, leaving Lady Mary grieving alone in the castle. According to stories, her ghost comes out from her painting in the Grey Room.
If this wasn’t enough to tell you the gruesome history of this castle of England, then the Chillingham dungeon will. It was found that the remains of many victims with broken limbs were found in the dungeon. All bodies have been removed, except for one that was left as a memorial marker, have been removed.
While there is no true evidence to any of the stories about these haunted castles, it is still fun to indulge in an eerie adventure to see for yourself if these are genuinely haunted castles or just regular ones with some juicy rumours to make them even more attractive! If you are feeling adventurous, we recommend spending a night at one of the most notorious hotels around the world.