Are you brave enough to climb the highest, mightiest towers and delve into the deepest, darkest tunnels? Visit one of England’s historic places this Halloween and feed your imagination. With hundreds of years of gruesome history and bloody battles, castles are not for the faint hearted… See below our top castles to visit.
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The site of Carlisle Castle in the North West of England has faced many sieges and bloody battles, making it an excellent site for spooky goings on. Venturing into the depths of the massive castle keep, you’ll discover the chilling ‘Licking Stones’ in the castle dungeon. The famous stones are said to have been worn smooth by the tongues of the poor prisoners licking the damp walls to get enough moisture to stay alive.
THE ‘LICKING STONES’
The scene of many bloody sieges, Carlisle Castle is often said to be plagued by restless spirits as well as being the site of gruesome events from history.
It has it’s fair share of chilling secrets, one of which is revealed in a room used as a dungeon during the Jacobite Rising in the 18th century. In here, you can find the ‘licking stones’ – stones in the castle walls that were licked by desperate prisoners trying to obtain some moisture in the cramped conditions.
Step into medieval life at Warkworth Castle and discover dark crypts, imposing stone walls and huge fireplaces where kitchen staff worked over bubbling cauldrons. Whatever you do though, don’t disturb the ghost of the Grey Lady, who is often seen wandering around one of the towers.
This impressive castle, with stunning views over South Yorkshire, still fires the imagination today.
Don’t miss the chance to stand in the magnificent keep, where some visitors have reported feeling a strange ghostly wind.
Delve into the medieval world of Lord and Lady de Warenne (who built it), and enjoy the grassy areas around the castle walls for games and picnics.
Grab your broomsticks for a bewitchingly brilliant day out at Brodsworth Hall this Halloween half term. Get hands-on with creepy crafts and a wicked witch-themed quest. There’s a fancy dress competition every day – come in your best witch and wizard outfits to be in with a chance of winning.
Yes, we are aware that this place isn’t a Castle, but the grounds are huge and great to explore.
Goodrich Castle is one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles, but it’s seen its fair share of gruesome conflict.
Pick up a free audio guide and hear about its eventful past during the famous Civil War siege and see the ‘murder holes’ built into the castle walls. It’s here where defenders are said to have thrown nasty things such as rocks and hot sand onto the heads of oncoming attackers.
The grassy courtyard is also the perfect place to burn off excess energy or enjoy a picnic, making a visit to Goodrich Castle a great family day out in the West Midlands.
In 1645, Goodrich Castle was the setting for the tragic deaths of two star-crossed lovers, who were sent to their watery graves during the Civil War.
Alice Birch, the niece of a parliamentarian Colonel, had fallen in love with a royalist and was with him at the castle when her uncle placed it under siege. Fearing for their lives, they tried to escape on horseback under the cover of a violent storm. But the River Wye had become swollen and they were swept away to their deaths. Their spirits are said to haunt the castle, particularly during stormy weather when their shrieks can be heard from the river.
Hear the intriguing, yet sometimes gruesome stories of the Hungerford family who occupied this fortified mansion in the South West of England for 300 years.
If you’re brave enough to enter the crypt, you’ll find a burial vault which holds the best collection of human-shaped lead coffins in Britain. The coffins still contain the embalmed remains of four men, two women and two children, thought to be members of the Hungerford family.
If you look closely, you can see that some have faces moulded onto them – death masks cast from the faces of the deceased – a chilling glimpse into the past.
According to a legend that may have originated in the 17th century, every night at midnight the ghost of Lady Howard travels from Okehampton Castle to her old home in Tavistock, in a coach made from the bones of her former husbands.
The coach is driven by a headless coachman, and a skeletal hound follows behind. Some believe that she has an eternal task, to remove all the grass from around the castle, just one blade at a time.
Yes, it’s not a Castle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not spooky. The forbidding ruins of Whitby Abbey are famous for their bloodcurdling connections. But did you know that the abbey harbours a dark secret from long before the time of Bram Stoker’s Dracula?
A young nun, Constance de Beverley, broke her sacred vows when she fell in love with a gallant knight called Marmion. When the other nuns found out her secret, her punishment was to be bricked up alive in the walls of a building. Today, it is said that her ghost can be seen at the site of Whitby Abbey, cowering and begging to be released.
Legend also says that a phantom choir can be heard on the 6 January every year at dawn – the old Christmas Day.
Yes, it’s not a Castle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not spooky.
A picture taken by a visitor in 2010 shows a shadowy outline of a hooded monk sitting reading, and just a few years ago another of the site’s visitors captured an image of a body dangling above a door – exactly where a piece of wood, thought to be an old hanging post, still remains. Now if that doesn’t give you the shivers, we’re not sure what will.
Bolsover Castle, the magnificent former home of Sir Charles Cavendish during the 17th century, has a dark side. Previous occupants seem intent to linger on in the mansion, roaming the halls and grounds as if they still reside there today. Lucky (or should that be unlucky?) visitors may come across Sir Charles himself, who is said to still wander the corridors, or may catch the distinct aroma of horses coming from the empty former riding school.
But perhaps the most chilling of all are the mysterious pinches and slaps that are frequently dished out by unseen hands!
Is Berry Pomeroy the most haunted castle of all? It’s got the lot when it comes to cold spots, feelings of fear, pressure on the temples, strange noises and lights and the usual spectral black hound. Real dogs hate being walked near the castle. There’s also many stories of cameras ceasing to work and film coming out fuzzy or blank.
More sinister is the ghost of a woman named Matilda known as the White Lady, who was said to have been imprisoned by her sister and starved to death in the room at the base of the St Margaret’s Tower.
Roam through centuries of history at Dover Castle for an action-packed day out in the South East.
Look out for ghostly projections of the inhabitants who lived in the Great Tower, descend deep within Dover’s White Cliffs to witness the secret wartime tunnels, and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the authentic underground hospital.
Before you get totally absorbed into medieval life though, don’t forget to see their exhibition with interactive fun and games for all the family.
Framlingham Castle’s tales of mysterious faces, ghostly footsteps, gothic tragedy and superstition are sure to leave you spellbound.
Once a fearsome fortress, muster your courage and explore its towering walls – home to some of the most powerful people in Tudor England, and then a sanctuary for the poor in the 17th century.
Discover more of Framlingham’s stories in their exciting exhibition and walk the walls of the castle to enjoy breath-taking views across the South East of England.