Castles can be spooky at the best of times but surely never more so than at Halloween. Now that the time for ancient spirits to have their annual mooch around is nearly upon us, for those of you who really want to maximise your chances of a ghostly encounter, the online castle hotel directory manorcastles.com have chosen their top 5 UK haunted castle hotels to stay in this Halloween.
Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire
Thornbury is an immaculately preserved Tudor era castle in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds that once played host to the most famous Tudor of them all; King Henry VIII, along with his second wife Anne Boleyn. It has a range of luxury B&B rooms and suites, beautifully landscaped grounds, which include a 500 year old vineyard, and a wonderfully authentic historic atmosphere throughout.
Thornbury has two main ghosts, the most active being what is believed to be that of Jasper Tudor, former Duke of Bedford and uncle of Henry VII. He died at home in Thornbury on 21st of December 1495 but today seems to take issue with the modern usage of his old bed chambers as mere office space. He reportedly gets particularly irate when women occupy it and knocks over books and other objects from desks and shelves in protest.
The second is believed to be the spirit of Princess Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, who spent some of her childhood at Thornbury and had a particular love for greyhounds. She can sometimes still be seen wandering the grounds, and always in the company of her beloved pet dogs.
Prices start at £199.00 per night B&B.
Dalhousie Castle, Midlothian
Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh is, at over 700 years old, Scotland’s oldest continually inhabited castle and now a world class hotel. It has 29 luxury B&B rooms, top of the range spa facilities, a fine restaurant and a gorgeously peaceful setting by the River Esk.
With a history going all the way back to the 13th century, Dalhousie has collected a few ghosts in its time, the most notable being that of its former resident Sir Alexander Ramsay. In 1342 he was imprisoned in Hermitage Castle in the Scottish Borders and subsequently starved to death. His spirit returned to his former home though it seems and to this day can be seen wandering Dalhousie, both inside the castle and around the grounds.
Another notable spirit, from a later time, is that of Lady Catherine Ramsey, sometimes known as the ‘Grey Lady’. In 1695 she fell in love with a staff member and was banished to the tower by her outraged father. Broken hearted, she died there soon afterwards at the age of 16. Her ghost has been seen all over the castle in recent times, particularly at weddings, wearing a flowing grey dress and pointed shoes.
Prices start at £107.00 per night B&B
Hever Castle, Kent
Hever Castle near Edenbridge, Kent was the place where Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the mother of Elizabeth I, spent most of her childhood and is still in remarkably good shape.
They have 28 beautifully decorated B&B rooms at Hever, not in the main castle but in the two adjacent mock-Tudor era Edwardian extensions. The original 13th century castle is sadly off-limits for over-night guests, though you are allowed to explore it during the day, including Anne’s old bedroom, and there are also 125 acres of gorgeous grounds to be enjoyed, in almost solitude, after the tour buses depart in the evening.
The ghost of Anne Boleyn has been reported in all sorts of places around England but here in her childhood home of Hever she has turned up the most. She has been seen standing at the bridge over the River Eden, wandering elegantly around the gardens and stopping awhile at the ancient oak tree where it is said she and Henry used to court.
She turns up most often at Christmas time, especially Christmas Eve, and it seems she has colleagues. An unidentified spirit, known as the ‘Unhappy Man’, appears on occasion, moving slowly through the hallways moaning and groaning, as you do when you’re unhappy, and the ghostly figure of a horse has been seen galloping through the Castle’s Long Gallery, where poltergeist activity has also been recorded.
Prices start at £130.00 per night B&B
Amberley Castle, W. Sussex
With over 800 years of history, Amberley Castle in West Sussex has almost completely retained the look and feel of a genuine late Medieval castle, with its ancient moat, 60 foot high defensive walls and towering battlements still on display.
It is also a top of the range hotel with luxurious B&B rooms and suites, in both the castle itself and in two adjacent 17th century stone buildings, and facilities that include a highly rated fine dining restaurant, tennis courts and an 18 hole putting green.
Amberley is believed to have many ghosts but the most famous by far is that of a young servant girl named Emily. She, it is said, jumped to her death from the battlements after falling pregnant and then being shunned by her lover, a local bishop above all people.
This was in the late 14th century but she can still sometimes been seen today, as a bloodied figure wandering the battlements and adjoining parts of the building, and can be heard crying and even laughing manically around the hallways.
Other spooky goings on include the sound of multiple footsteps racing towards the battlements, presumed to be the ghosts of long dead soldiers preparing to defend the castle.
Prices start at £176.00 per night B&B
Oakley Court, Windsor
Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor has a very deep association with the supernatural, but of the er…more fictional kind. In 1949 it became the HQ and set of the classic British horror film company Hammer Films; the original Hammer House of Horrors you could say. This led others to follow suit and it had starring roles in many cult classic films and series including Vampyres, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Rocky Horror Picture Show to name but a few.
It is now a top class luxury hotel with 118 stylish rooms and suites, a nine hole golf course, tennis courts, spa facilities, a swimming pool and 33 acres of English gardens in a lovely setting by the River Thames.
Oakley, through its film connections, may have hosted many famous names but its ghosts prefer to remain anonymous. They are busy though, with a huge amount of spooky carry on being recorded over the years. Guests, and staff, have reported ghostly knocks on bedroom doors and windows, and have come face to face with various spectres including that of an elderly Victorian gentleman who comes to stand motionless by guests’ beds and shrouded figures who move slowly around the halls at dusk.
People have also had ghostly images appearing on photographs with one such example being displayed at the hotel. It shows the shadowy figure of a man sitting alone at the dining table, though the photographer and another witness reported that the table was completely empty at the time.
Prices start at £181.00 per night B&B