Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain

Natasha sheldon - October 20, 2017

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
The Hellfire Cave, High Wycombe. Google Images

The Hellfire Caves

The hellfire caves of Wycombe in Buckinghamshire may have started as a natural formation. However, they were reshaped and extended in the eighteenth century by Sir Francis Dashwood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, rake, and Hellfire club member. In the late 1740s, after a series of bad harvests, Dashwood decided to quarry into the caves and so provide employment for local men, surfacing materials for the new London road- and to bring his pet project of an underground temple to fruition.

Dashwood had recently returned from a grand tour, when, besides becoming a Freemason, he had been introduced to the concept of the Eleusinian mysteries. The caves were his interpretation of an Eleusinian cavern of initiation. A long tunnel, with small rooms branching off opened onto a cavernous banqueting room. After passing over an artificial “River Styx,’ the revellers entered into the inner temple- which lay 300 feet below the local St. Lawrence’s church.

Once the work was over in 1752, the caves became a meeting place for Sir Francis’s ‘Order of the Friars of St Francis of Wycombe.’ This club was either a branch of the Hellfire Club, (a gentleman’s club for pleasure-seeking rakes) or a freemasons temple- depending on sources or viewpoints. Here Dashwood was joined by other notables such as Lord Sandwich and even Benjamin Franklin for meetings and ‘ceremonies.’ Whatever the truth of the activities in the caves, they aroused the suspicions of the locals. Tales spread of drunken debauchery and occult activity.

After Dashwood’s time, the caves fell into disuse. By the twentieth century, the caves were in neglect and disrepair. But a subsequent Sir Francis Dashwood renovated them after the Second World War. It was then the caves developed their spooky reputation. At their reopening, a local vicar, Father Allen told a journalist that his stomach wobbled ‘like jelly ‘ every time he passed the entrance. He later gave a sermon about the evil influence of the caves

The ghosts of the caves are varied and reflect their history. Besides mysterious orbs of light, unseen growls and gravel throwing, the spirit of the poet Paul Whitehead whose heart was buried in the caves until its theft by soldier 150 years ago, reputedly wanders the caverns searching for his lost heart. A Victorian ghost called Suki also haunts the caves. A chambermaid at the village pub, she was lured to the caves and murdered by local youths angry that she had spurned them.

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
St Nicholas Church, Pluckley, Kent. Google Images


The small village of Pluckley in Kent was first mentioned in the Domesday Book. The village has been at the centre of no significant events in its history and its most notable claim to fame in recent years has been as the setting for British TV series “The Darling Buds of May.” However, this picturesque village has a sinister reputation as Britain’s most haunted village, with no less than twelve and possibly fourteen ghosts haunting its wooded lanes and historic buildings.

Some of Pluckley’s ghosts are relatively standard for a rural village. There are the ‘Screaming Woods‘ where the spirits of Pluckley’s anonymous deceased make their presence known to the living-loudly. Then there is the phantom coach and horses, which roams Pluckley’s lanes and the White Lady, who was buried in 7 coffins and an oak sarcophagus inside St Nicholas Church. Outside, a ghostly Red Lady and a small dog haunt the churchyard. Then there is the inevitable ghost of the lovelorn, in Pluckley’s case, ‘The Lady of Rose Court’ who poisoned herself after becoming involved in a love triangle.

Other ghosts have more particular tales, such as the highwayman who was killed during an altercation by being pinned by to the oak tree, at the appropriately known “Fright Corner,” by a sword. The highwayman lurks here still, as a sinister, shadowy figure. Then there is the sad ghost of the Watercress Woman, a gipsy who sat on a bridge crossing the village brook selling her wares. The Watercress Woman had a liking for gin and once, when inebriated, managed to soak herself in it and set herself alight when trying to light her pipe.

Her ghost, when visible, can be seen sitting on the bridge, smoking her pipe and drinking the gin that caused her death. Finally, there is the tragic case of a man who was smothered in a wall of clay at the local brickworks.

Not all of Pluckley’s past residents were happy in the village, as at least two hung themselves- only to find themselves stranded in Pluckley for eternity. One was the nineteenth-century schoolmaster who hung himself and was discovered by the children he taught. His ghost, dressed in striped trousers and his favorite jacket still haunts the fields in the school grounds. Likewise, in Park Woods, there is the ghost of a former colonel who also hung himself.

Take a Quick Look Around Pluckley: England’s Most Haunted Village.

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
The Tower of London. Google Images

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is known as one of the most haunted places in Britain. This accolade is no small wonder, for, from the moment its first stone building, the White Tower was constructed at the behest of William the Conqueror in 1078; it has been in constant use. In its time The Tower has been a military stronghold, royal palace, zoo, treasury and a political prison. It has a range of ghosts to match each one of its functions.

The tower was a royal residence right from its inception- and still boasts the ghosts of some of its Royal Residents. Henry VI, who died in his chapel in the Wakefield Tower in 1471 is just one. Some claim he died of a broken heart when the Yorkist king Edward IV took his throne. It is more likely, however, that he was stabbed to death while at prayer. Every May 21st, the anniversary of his death, he is said to appear on the spot he died- and disappear at midnight.

The tower also had a zoo from the 1200s to house a range of exotic animals such as lions, kangaroos, ostriches, elephants and polar bears which were all presented as gifts to various monarchs. In 1835, the zoo closed and the animals moved to the new London Zoo in Regents Park. But one resident remains- in spirit at least. Visitors claim to have seen the ghost of a grizzly bear roaming the precincts of the former menagerie.

The tower is most famous as a prison for traitors and political prisoners- and the spot of many executions. Over the years, over 100 executions have occurred within the Tower precincts, including 93 beheadings and 11 deaths by firing squad. Many of those souls remained within the confines of the tower after death. Amongst them are Henry VIII’s wives Ann Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

Ann quietly haunts her grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula., while Catherine’s spirit can be heard screaming in the room she occupied before her execution. Nine days queen Lady Jane Grey is said to haunt the battlements, and the weeping spirit of her husband, Gilford Dudley is still found in his room.

Some of the hauntings, however, are strange and inexplicable. One evening in the nineteenth century, the crown Jewel keeper E L Swifte was having dinner with his family when his wife spotted a cylindrical object, somewhat like a test tube filled with bubbling blue fluid, moving towards her unaided. The cylinder lurched at her before vanishing into thin air.

Continue Reading: Mysterious Skeletons of Woman and Girl Discovered in Lost Tower of London Chapel.

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
The Brocade Slippers of the Ghost of Papillon Hall, Leicestershire. Google Images

Papillion Hall, Leicestershire

Papillon Hall used to be a mile west of Lubenhall near Lutterworth before its’ demolition in the 1950s. But the legend of its ghost- and maybe the restless spirit itself- remains. The Papillon family built the hall in 1622 on the site of a holy well once belonging to Leicester Abbey. But its sinister reputation dates back to the time of the great-grandson of the original builder, David Papillon, or ‘Pamps.’

Pamps was a handsome man with a sinister reputation. He was believed to have destructive hypnotic powers. He also reputedly kept a Spanish mistress imprisoned in the attic of the house. This mistress is said to have died in 1715 although no one ever recorded her burial. Soon afterward, Pamps married and left the area. He left behind a portrait of himself and a pair of lady’s dancing shoes, with strict instructions that neither were to be removed from the hall.

All was well at the Hall as long as the objects remained in place-as future occupants discovered to their costs. When the Bosworth family sold the hall, they broke the covenant, bequeathing the contents- including painting and shoes- to one of their daughters. Unexpected knockings and misfortunes began to plague the new owner, Lord Hopeton and his household. Events culminated in one terrifying night in 1866 when the entire household gathered in the lobby while they listened to the sounds of furniture being thrown violently around the empty drawing-room. On investigation, everything remained in its right place.

The shoes and portrait were traced and reinstated. But history repeated itself several times when the shoes left the premise. Finally, it was decided to fix them to the hall in a wall safe. But during alterations to the Hall in 1903, the shoes were removed again. A worker was subsequently killed by a falling brick, while the owner, Lord Bellville was hurt in a pony and trap accident. During these same renovations, the skeleton of a woman was found encased in the walls. Could this be the mysterious Spanish lady whose death was never recorded?

On the hall’s demolition, the shoes were reclaimed by a Papillon descendant and gifted to the Leicester museum, and the grounds became a farm. But it seems that even though the house has gone, a presence remains. The Hughes family who owns the farm have heard strange noises around the old stable blocks, which still survive, as well as an eerie feeling of a presence about the land.

Haunted History: 12 of the Creepiest Places in Britain
Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon. Google Images

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon

Henry de Pomeroy completed Berry Pomeroy castle in Devon in 1305. But its lands had been in the de Pomeroy family for much longer. In 1066, they were gifted by William the Conqueror to Ralph de Pomeroy, for his loyalty and support. The de Pomeroy’s held the castle through war and rebellion. However, in the 1540s, the castle caught the eye of Sir Edward Seymour, brother to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII.

It would have been dangerous to refuse a man in his position. So in 1547, Sir Thomas Pomeroy sold the castle, park, and manor of Berry Pomeroy to Edward Seymour.

Seymour only lived to enjoy his new acquisition for five years. In 1552, he was spectacularly ousted as the Lord protector of his nephew Edward V and executed in the Tower of London. The castle remained in Seymour’s hands. However, the family abandoned it in 1688; their cophers depleted from backing the royalist cause in the English Civil War. By Victorian times, the castle had crumbled into a picturesque ruin, until its salvation by English Heritage in the 1970s.

The unknown history of the castle is kept alive by its many ghosts. A variety of servants, guardsmen and even snarling dogs from the past still haunt the ruin. They include the sad figure of a little kitchen girl, searching for her murdered mother and two de Pomeroy brothers who jumped off the castle battlements after a siege rather than submit to the enemy. A friendly cavalier also lurks. If he catches the eye of a visitor, he will explain he is just off to the pub!

However, the castle’s two most notable ghosts, the white and the blue ladies are de Pomperoys. The White Lady is Margaret Pomeroy. Margaret was so beautiful that her elder sister, Eleanor imprisoned her in the cells of St Margaret’s Tower and eventually left her to starve to death. She haunts the dungeons still, leaving behind an air of evil and malice in her wake.

The Blue Lady’s name is not known. Legend tells that she was the daughter of one of the early Norman lords. Raped by her father, she fell pregnant. Her father strangled the child at birth. The Blue Lady reputedly targets men, luring them to dangerous parts of the castle by calling out for help. But despite being a de Pomeroy, the Blue Lady has affiliated herself to the Seymours who took over the castle from her family- by becoming their death portent.