Even those of us who are sceptics cannot help but be fascinated by the strange phenomena reported all around the country, today as they have been for hundreds indeed thousands of years. Ghosts, ghouls and poltergeists abound in Britain, and knowledge of the local versions can add a dash of icy spice to a visit or a stay in just about every town and village in the land.
Our ghost stories reflect the richness of our history: a ghostly Roman army tramping still in Dorset; a Jacobite plotter waiting for the day that will never come when her brother can return; Crusaders rising from a Norfolk church to fight their Saracen foe once every year.
Few actually get to see a spectre appear before us, but there is no doubting that places associated with historic or horrific events retain an indefinable atmosphere - who among us can look over an ancient battlefield without feeling some distant echo of the terror of those who fought and died there? Knowing our history is important, and so often ghost stories throw some light on the mores, the events, the feeling of an era: thus hearing the tale of Sweyne the Danish invader killed by the ghost of St Edmund illuminates how in times long past the martyred Edmund was revered, and how desperately the English desired help to rid them of the Norsemen.
A most accommodating aspect of British ghost tales is that so many are centred on pubs, inns, and great houses (some of the latter turned into our unrivalled country house hotels), as much a part of the furniture in various hostelries as the snug bar or the oak panelling. Knowing a bit about them before you go can help a rainy evening pass very pleasantly, though children are perhaps not the best audience for such stories, especially if they are sleeping in one of the rooms central to the particular legend. So even if just for the late-night adults in the party look for local tales of the supernatural before you visit somewhere in Britain, and maybe practice the spooky laugh a bit.
British Hauntings and Ghost stories by county: Show All
England: | Bath(1) | Bedfordshire(3) | Berkshire(2) | Buckinghamshire(3) | Cambridgeshire(4) | Cheshire(2) | Cornwall(3) | Cumbria(3) | Derbyshire(3) | Devon(5) | Dorset(7) | East Yorkshire(3) | Essex(2) | Gloucestershire(1) | Hampshire(2) | Herefordshire(2) | Hertfordshire(4) | Kent(3) | Lancashire(3) | Leicestershire(2) | Lincolnshire(3) | London(10) | Norfolk(6) | North Yorkshire(2) | Northamptonshire(1) | Northumberland(4) | Nottinghamshire(1) | Oxfordshire(3) | Shropshire(2) | Somerset(3) | South Yorkshire(2) | Staffordshire(1) | Suffolk(4) | Surrey(2) | Sussex(5) | Tyne and Wear(1) | Warwickshire(2) | West Midlands(1) | West Yorkshire(2) | Wiltshire(1) | Worcestershire(1) Scotland: | Angus and Dundee(1) | Argyll(1) | Borders(2) | Edinburgh and the Lothians(1) | Grampian(2) Wales: | South Wales(1) | West Wales(1) Offshore: | Isle of Man(2) | Isles of Scilly(1) | Jersey(1) Northern Ireland: | County Antrim(2) | County Down(1)