Answer: you’ll have to visit them to find out…
As Halloween approaches and thoughts turn to which scary monster to dress up as, or what horrifying film to watch, there may be a far more thrilling way to spend the spooky occasion.
Rather than dress up as a ghost or watch one on your TV screen, why not venture out in search of one yourself – and brave a real haunted house?
Home to many a medieval building set against the the eerie misty moors, Yorkshire is an idyllic setting for a night of paranormal activity. Claire Schofield picks out 13 of Yorkshire’s “most haunted” places to visit this Halloween.
[Photo: Tim Green / Flickr / CC]
With no fewer than 20 recorded sightings of full bodied apparitions, it’s no wonder Bradford’s Bolling Hall is earmarked as one of Yorkshire’s most haunted buildings. Featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, the old building has quite a chilling history: it served as a stronghold for royalists in the English Civil War, and the first of its many ghostly sightings was first recorded in 1643. The ‘White Lady’ has become a well-known ghostly figure in the house, often seen floating across the room and disappearing into a fireplace, but eager ghost-seeking visitors need not be disappointed if they don’t witness a sighting, as there’s no shortage of other mysterious activity about the Hall to get you spooked, including slamming doors, unidentifiable footsteps trotting up stairs, disembodied voices and heavy breathing coming from empty rooms. Although if seeing really is believing, why not test your nerve this Halloween and embark on a special ghost hunting event with celebrity Most Haunted medium Barrie John?
Ghost of note: The White LadyBowling Hall Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: Russell James Smith / Flickr / CC]
Known in the paranormal world as the ‘Satanic Mills of Armley’, a ghost-hunting venture into this haunted venue isn’t one for the faint-hearted. The sinister looking mill has known a lot of sickness and death over the years, and in 1805 it was almost completely destroyed by fire. With its dreadful history, it’s little wonder the dark and eerie mill has become known as a hotbed of haunted activity. The slamming of doors is a common occurrence, along with mischievous poltergeist activity and reports of being forcefully pushed by unseen hands. Oh and of course there’s the odd ghost or two who like to pop out and say hello, most notably that of a Victorian woman in a black dress supposedly searching for her lost child, and a man in a top hat and a cape. Willy Wonka? Perhaps not. Overnight ghost hunts are held regularly at the Mill throughout the year, so see what all the fuss is about and brave a trip yourself.
Ghost of note: Victorian Lady searching for her lost childCanal Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: Archangel12 / Flickr / CC]
Standing atop a grassy mound, nestled among steep cliffs overlooking the North Sea, sits the jagged ruins of Whitby Abbey. The desolate building, founded in 651AD, towers over the seaside town of Whitby like a dominant oppressive figure. With many a ghostly tale in its long history, it’s easy to see why the abbey helped to inspire Bram Stoker’s chilling gothic masterpiece Dracula. But it’s not just vampires the abbey has attracted. It is believed Saint Hilda, the founder of the abbey, still haunts the building – and her ghostly figure can be spotted gazing out of the highest window. A phantom horse-drawn coach which races along the cliff and plunges into the depths is another of the ghostly legends here, along with hauntings from Constance de Beverley, a young nun who broke her sacred vows and was cruelly bricked up alive in the dungeons. It’s said her screams can still be heard as she begs for release.
Ghost of note: St HildaAbbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: Dave Ellis / Flickr / CC]
This beautiful country house in North Yorkshire may look tranquil and inviting from the outside, but it has a reputation for strange goings-on at night. The stunning Manor home is said to be home to quite a few ghosts, including the spirits of children and most notably, the Lady of Nunnington. Late at night the rustle of her dress can be heard dragging up and down the staircase, doors open and slam shut with no explanation, books fly across the room, and weeping sounds can often be heard, supposedly as the Lady laments the death of her young son. Blood-curdling screams and children’s whispers have also been reported, particularly in the attic where it is told the Lady locked away her stepson, and a black figure is also known to pass over the bed and through the wall in one of the rooms. Spooky.
Ghost of note: Lady NunningtonNunnington Hall, Nunnington, Near York, Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: JThomas / Geograph / CC]
Saltmarshe Hall has enough paranormal activity to send a shiver down anyone’s spine. Built in the 18th century, the 17 acre residence features a creepy maze of corridors and cellar rooms which snake beneath it, and an abandoned North Wing which has remained completely deserted for more than 70 years – making it the perfect playground for all manner of ghostly beings. The eerily empty Hall is spooked by ghostly figures, moving dark shadows, poltergeist activity and unexplained noises from the depths of the cellars below, rendering present staff afraid to venture into certain rooms. But would you dare enter the dark and dingy cellars? Tag along on a special ghost hunting night to see what you’re made of.
Ghost of note: A ghostly white lady spotted drifting through the gardens and vanishing by the pondSaltmarshe Hotel, Saltmarshe, Near Howden, East Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: David Pacey / Flickr / CC]
Around since the time of the Domesday Book, this grand Tudor mansion has quite the colourful history and more than a few spooky tales to tell. A long-standing resident in the grand building, so much so she has her own room named after her, is the ghost known as the Blue Lady of Temple Newsam. Robbed of her pearl necklace by highwaymen when returning home, Mary Ingram (the Blue Lady) descended into madness convinced she had somehow lost them. It is said she can still be seen roaming the house and brushing past people on stairways still on the hunt for her belongings. Ghosts of monks in brown robes, a Knight’s Templar and a small boy, along with hair-raising screams from the South Wing, are among some of the other haunted happenings in the house. Embark on a spooky ghost hunt to see what you can find.
Ghost of note: The Blue LadyTemple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire; more info
The Golden Fleece
[Photo: Son of Groucho / Flickr / CC]
Heralded York’s most haunted pub, a trip to this quaint venue is one that should only be attempted by the brave. Home to five spirits, things have gone bump in the night more than once, even drawing the team of TV’s Most Haunted into its lair to investigate in 2005. The most famous of the five house ghosts is Lady Alice Peckett, whose husband owned the hotel and was the Lord Mayor of York in the 17th century. Lady Peckett has been reported by many a terrified guest to be seen wandering the corridors and staircases in the dead of night and moving around furniture. You might want to keep a tight grip on your belongings if you’re planning to spend a night here.
Ghost of note: Lady Alice PeckettThe Golden Fleece, 16 Pavement, York, North Yorkshire; more info
Bagdale Hall Hotel
[Photo: Mike Kirby / Geograph / CC]
Built in 1516, Bagdale Hall is Whitby’s oldest building, so naturally it’s had its fair share of paranormal goings-on. Flickering lights, clattering footsteps, whispers and children’s cries are among some of the strange activities at the hall, but its resident ghost Browne Bushall that will really have you wishing you’d stayed somewhere else. Former owner of the hall, Bushall met a sticky and gruesome end when he was executed for piracy. Having returned to the hall after his death, he is now said to stalk up and down the staircases.
Ghost of note: Browne Bushall1 Bagdale, Whitby, North Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: Graham Hogg / Geograph / CC]
Known as Sheffield’s most haunted public house, it’s a must-visit for all ghost-hunting fanatics. The sounds of children playing in the night can be heard in this cosy little pub, along with Civil War soldiers appearing out of nowhere to startle visitors over the years. Many a landlord has also been terrified by the spectre of a man emerging at the top of the stairs, brushing past them as it descended before quickly vanishing again at the bottom. There’s nothing quite like a bit of ghost hunting thrown in with a pub lunch and a pint, is there?537, Carbrook, Sheffield, South Yorkshire; more info
Burton Agnes Hall
[Photo: Jo-Marshall / Flickr / CC]
Trapped behind the walls in the historic Burton Agnes Hall is said to be the skull of Anne Griffith, one of three sisters who built the hall during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Attacked and mortally wounded by thieves while walking in the park, Anne fell ill and later died before the building was complete, but before she passed she requested her sisters bring back her head into the hall so she could see the final structure and watch over her beloved home. Her wish was first ignored but following a plague of strange sounds and moaning, her sisters thought better of their decision and Anne’s skull was placed in the hall. A series of attempts to remove it by skeptical servants and the like ensued, but all were met with wails and cries until the skull was eventually placed in a niche in the wall and bricked up. The spirit of Anne, known as Owd Nance, is thought to still haunt the building – and she is said to appear on the anniversary of her death.
Ghost of note: Owd NanceBurton Agnes, Driffield, East Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: Mosborough Hall]
The legend of resident ghost, known as the ‘White Lady’, a former governess at the Hall, dates back to the late 16th century. After a flirtation with the squire which left her pregnant, the couple got caught up in argument over money which the squire had promised but failed to provide. Her final threat to tell his wife of their affair resulted in her death, when the squire slit her throat in a moment of supposed desperation. It is told that her large pet dog pined at her side following her death. With its pained and gruesome past, it’s unsurprising that paranormal activity can be witnessed in every room in the Hall.
Ghost of note: The White Lady and a Spectral DogMosborough Hall Hotel, High Street, Mosborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire; more info
Thackray Medical Museum
[Photo: Thackray Medical Museum]
The Thackray Medical Museum, a former workhouse and asylum, has had so many deaths on its premises that it’s come to be known as quite the hub of paranormal activity. Many a curious haunted happening has occurred in this historical building, with unexplained noises, coin throwing, ominous moving shadows and chilly temperature just a few of the ghostly activities that have gone on inside its vast and oppressive walls. It’s no wonder then that the former asylum has become a popular haunt for ghost hunting, with events held regularly throughout the year for those bold enough to brave it. With its impressively authentic Victorian street, complete with pitch black winding walkways, its operating theatre, and other spooky exhibits, it’s sure to be one fright night you won’t forget in a hurry.141 Beckett Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire; more info
[Photo: pjo18 / Flickr / CC]
Not particularly daunting or foreboding from the outside, this beautiful Georgian country house museum is nonetheless known to have a few unwelcome inhabitants behind its doors. Many a tale has been told by staff of peculiar goings on here, even during daylight, with doors being inexplicably locked and unlocked, hazy presences appearing and disappearing, sounds of muffled voices and moving furniture. The Green Bedroom in the house is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a lady, believed to have died there during childbirth, along with the figure of a small boy, and a young maid spotted by several staff in the Victorian kitchen, where many employees report feelings of being watched. But do you dare brave the hall’s of Cannon Hall to see what’s there? Tag along on a ghost hunting event and test your mettle.
Ghost of note: Young maid believed to haunt the Victorian kitchenCannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens Bark House Lane, Barnsley, South Yorkshire; more info