The 10 spookiest buildings in Britain

Think haunted castles with ghostly figures walking the corridors...

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Credits: Publicity PicturesBolsover Castle tops the list of terrifying sites in Britain

From unexplained screams to flickering lights, ghosts and bodies disappearing through walls, they are the spine-chilling events we expect to see in horror movies.

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Legends include tales of the disembodied face of a girl who drowned in a well at Carisbrooke Castle appearing regularly in the grounds in the Isle of Wight site to peer up at visitors, as well as a young stable boy seen running along what would have been the hayloft at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire.

At other castles the chilling beat of footsteps can be heard running above or rushing up staircases that lead to no where. While woe betide any visitors to Beeston Castle who try to cross the path of a woman in a rocking chair blocking the entrance, or those attempting to pass through cold areas in the middle of staircases at Whitby Abbey, the location which inspired Bram Stoker 's Dracula.

And while many can be confined to myths and tall tales, staff aat Britain's historic sites have reported seeing ghostly goings on after they have shut for the night.

Using reports from workers and those looking round castles and historic sites, English Heritage has compiled a list of the 10 spookiest places in Britain, as well as crowned the spookiest place overall.

The 10 spookiest places in the UK


1. Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Bolsover Castle was founded in the 11th century

Credits: Publicity PicturesWorkers have reportedly seen a woman disappear through a wall

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Built on an ancient burial ground and overlooking a town once described as "the Satanic capital of Britain" – Bolsover Castle has earned the title of the nation's scariest castle. It was founded in the 11th century but largely neglected from the 14th century until Sir Charles Cavendish decided to build 'Little Castle' at the site in 1612.

See also: Is this man's terrifying encounter with a ghost for real?

The 17th century aristocratic retreat has long had a haunting reputation for the unexplained. Staff have reported hearing mysterious footsteps and muffled voices, as well as experienced slamming doors, cold sensations and even being pushed.

Two workmen were left terrified when they saw a woman disappear through a wall, while a little boy has been seen holding the hands of visitors as they walk about the site, his living companions unaware that he is at their side. When locking up late one night, one member of staff heard a scream which got louder and louder as she walked away from the castle, only for her to rush back and find no one there.

Night security guards have also reported unexplained lights and movement in the empty property, when they patrol the building when it has already been locked up for the day.


2. Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Credits: Publicity PicturesThe figure of a young boy has apparently been seen running across what would have been the hayloft at Kenilworth Castle


Credits: Publicity PicturesIt has been a royal castle throughout its history

A red-brick medieval fortress, Kenilworth Castle was converted into an Elizabethan palace in 1563 after it was granted to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I. It was first built in the 1120s and has been a royal castle throughout most of its history.

Staff have reported seeing several ghostly figures at this 900-year-old site including a young boy running across the top of the stables where the hayloft would have been and a mysterious disappearing woman. The distinct smell of pipe smoke has often been smelt in doorways around the castle and the antique cot in one of the bedroom has been seen rocking by itself. Workers have also claimed to have heard steps running down the wooden staircase - but when they have checked no one is there.

When patrolling the grounds one evening a night watchman claimed he witnessed a ghostly figure walk straight through his colleague, who went cold as it happened. Once closed the gatehouse has been a site for more chilling events - with workers reporting things missing or moved.

3. Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

Credits: Publicity PicturesAt Carisbrooke Castle a girl who drowned in a well is said to haunt the grounds and peer up at staff


Credits: Publicity Pictures

The deep well at Carisbrooke is perhaps one of the Isle of Wight's most tragic locations as it is the grave of Elizabeth Ruffin, a young girl who tragically drowned there many years ago. Staff have claimed to have seen the young girl's pale disembodied face peering up towards the light. Other mysterious figures reputed to have been seen wandering along the castle walls are the 'Grey Lady', a phantom wearing a long cloak and accompanied by four dogs, and Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died whilst imprisoned at Carisbrooke.

When opening up the drum towers in the morning, the chilling sound of children's laughter has often been heard by staff. The children, whose laughter moves around each room of the castle, have never shown themselves but some evenings staff wish them a good night.

The castle itself has had a number of uses including as a king's prison, royal summer residence and a Saxon fortress. It first became the site of a fortification in 1000 and is believed to have previously been used as fortress to protect against the invading Vikings.


4. Pendennis Castle, Cornwall

Credits: Publicity PicturesHenry VIII built Pendennis Castle


Credits: Publicity PicturesVisitors report hearing the screams of a kitchen maid at the site

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Built by Henry VIII to protect the Carrick Roads from invasion by France and Spain, in 1646 the castle was the site of a siege. Trapped inside for six months, supporters of the King were forced to eat their horses and dogs for survival before they eventually surrendered.

The piercing screams of a kitchen maid who fell to her death whilst carrying food have been heard by visitors, as well as strange footsteps on a staircase that no longer leads anywhere.

Pendennis Castle was built from 1539 to 1545 and it has been modernised throughout history, including in the 1700s and in 1902 when new barracks were built there.


5. Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

Credits: Publicity PicturesIt is easy to see how Whitby Abbey inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula


Credits: Publicity PicturesA ruin of a Benedictine monastery sits at the site

Perched high on a cliff, it's easy to see why the haunting remains of Whitby Abbey were inspiration for Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. The Abbey itself is the ruin a Benedictine monastery, founded in the 11th century. It stands on the site of a much earlier monastery, dating back to 657 when it was founded by Hild, an Anglian princess.

See also: Commuters spooked by 'ghost' who jumped in front of train

The parish of the church of St Mary stands beneath the abbey and had a large graveyard. here weathered headstones lie, as well as some balancing on the edge of the cliff. According to English Heritage, Stoker is said to have noted down inscriptions on the stones for use in his book - including 'Swales', the name of Dracula's first victim

Staff have reported feeling unexplained cold draughts in the middle of staircases, stock flying off the shelves and strange taps on the shoulder - seemingly from no one.


6. Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire

Credits: Publicity PicturesVisitors to Beeston have also reported seeing a woman on a rocking chair - barring them entry

Staff at Beeston Castle have reported seeing a shadowy figure standing by the inner ward gates, lights flickering on and off and hearing knocking on the walls. Visitors have also reported strange events from the caves - claiming to have seen light in their depths and a woman on a rocking chair barring them entry.

The castle, which sits 500 feet above Cheshire plain, was built in the 1220s but the inner part, which houses the accommodation was never completed.


7. Dover Castle, Kent

Credits: Publicity PicturesA figure of a Cavalier and a woman in a red dress have been seen at Dover Castle


Credits: Publicity PicturesDover Castle was previously the site of an Iron Age fort

Credits: Publicity Pictures

Publicity Pictures

Dover has sheltered many thousands of lives within its walls over its long history. Henry II remodelled the site in the 1180s and ever since it has been adapted to meet the changing demands of war, its position giving it great strategic importance.

Before the castle was built an Iron Age fort is believed to have sat on the site and an earthwork and timber castle was created under the direction of William the Conqueror, after his victory in 1066.

In the great tower, the lower half of a man's body was seen by two members of staff in the doorway to the King's chamber. Another staff member, while cleaning the basement, saw the figure of a Cavalier, while another has seen the figure of a woman in a red dress on the stairs and along the mural gallery.


8. Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

Credits: Publicity PicturesFramlingham Castle was the former home of Mary Tudor


Credits: Publicity PicturesA bell for the workhouse is often heard ringing

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At the former home and fortress of Mary Tudor, staff have reported seeing a man in 17th century dress and a mysterious dark figure with a white face following them across the site. Outside what was the workhouse 'Naughty Cupboard', a bell has been heard ringing, similar sounding to the hand bell that would have been used when the building was a functioning Workhouse.

The castle was built by a powerful Norman family in the 12th century and was under siege for two days in 1216. By the 14th century the castle was in the hands of Earls and Dukes of Norfolk, who held control of it for 400 years.


9. Clifford's Tower, North Yorkshire

Credits: SyndicationCliffords Tower was part of York Castle, built by William the Conqueror


Credits: Birmingham MailThe castle was the site of a mass suicide

Clifford's Tower is almost all that remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and has served as a prison and a royal mint in its time. It has been a site of devastation and death, with York's Jewish community committing mass suicide in 1190 after being set upon by a mob and numerous revolts taking place after 1068 when it was first built.

Before William the Conqueror built the castle a Roman cemetery is believed to have been on the site.

Staff have reported strange banging coming from ceilings, mysterious footsteps and the sound of children running in the courtyard when the site has been closed. Doors have swung open by themselves and once a dog barked so furiously at an empty corner in the chapel that the animal had to be taken outside to calm down.


10. Home of Charles Darwin – Down House, Kent

Credits: AFPCharles Darwin's home, Down House in Bromley, Kent


Credits: PADarwin's bedroom recreated

The former home of renowned scientist Charles Darwin has not been immune to strange goings on. A worker reported that when entering the study once and brushing past Darwin's desk to close the shutters, a quill that lay on the desk suddenly stared spinning and wouldn't cease until she left the room.

English Heritage asked its 1,800 staff to rate their individual sites on a special spooky scale to compile the list of most haunted sites, and come up with the scariest site - Bolsover Castle.

Lucy Hutchings, Regional Director at English Heritage, said: "Our castles and palaces, especially on these Halloween nights, can be eerie places and some of our team have seen and heard things they can't easily explain.

"Bolsover Castle, the magnificent former home of William Cavendish, definitely has a dark side. Over the years staff have reported time and again unexplained occurrences of objects moving, orbs of light, pinches and some have been told by visitors that they have seen William himself, wandering the lonely corridors. It's no wonder that it has been voted English Heritage's spookiest site."

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