From tales of mysterious apparitions to spectral chills, there’s nothing more thrilling than an old-fashioned ghost story. Since ancient times, tales of the undead have featured in cultural folklore around the world fascinating children and grown-ups alike.
Each of these captivating historic houses comes with a ghostly tale from centuries past, so whether you’re easily spooked or a brave sceptic, there’s plenty to explore this Halloween.
Scroll through the gallery above to discover the most hair-raising heritage locations. We dare you to pay them a visit.
Blickling Hall, Norfolk
A part of the Blickling Estate, Blicking Hall came into the care of the National Trust in 1940. Previously it was in the possession of the Boleyn family. The rumoured birth place of Anne Boleyn, her headless ghost is said to return to the estate on the anniversary of her execution.
01263 738030; nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate
Image: ©National Trust Images/John Millar
Longleat House, Wiltshire
Regarded as one of England’s most famous stately homes, this Elizabethan prodigy house dates back to 1515. When Lady Louisa Carteret married the Second Viscount Weymouth of Longleat House in 1733, the Viscount quickly became jealous of her relationship with a young footman and ordered for him to be killed. Several members of staff have since sighted Lady Louisa wandering the corridors in search of her murdered lover.
01985 844400; longleat.co.uk
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Featured in our June 2016 issue, Chatsworth House is bursting with a mèlange of ancient drawings, paintings, sculptures and other classical antiquities. In 1549, the Chatsworth estate was sold to Sir William Cavendish and his wife Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury. Known as Bess of Hardwick, she was responsible for the building of Chatsworth House – and she is rumoured to still wander the corridors at night.
01246 565300; chatsworth.org
Image: Simon Upton
In the middle of this 18th-century park is Newton House, which is rumoured to be haunted by Lady Elinor Cavendish. Following an unhappy betrothal, she fled to Newton House where she was followed by her enraged suitor and strangled to death. Staff have reported lights turning off an on by themselves, ghostly whisperings, and the unmistakable scent of cigar smoke wafting through the corridors.
01558 824512; nationaltrust.org.uk/dinefwr
Image: ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
Petworth House, West Sussex
The 700-acre grounds of Petworth House are some of the most famous in England, and were a favourite subject of the painter JMW Turner. The most famous account of a haunting at Petworth comes from the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, who owned the estate between 1632-1668. While staying in London, he wrote of seeing a ghostly white figure appear at his bedside. Dismissing it as a dream, he returned home to discover that his wife had seen the very same figure at Petworth the night before.
01798 342207; nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house-and-park
Image: Andrew Butler
Ham House, Surrey
Situated beside the river Thames in Ham, Ham House is an one of few surviving houses built in a style fashionable in the 17th century. It is also thought to be one of the most haunted properties in Britain, with one investigation reporting 15 resident phantoms! Visitors have felt cold spots, heard unexplained footsteps, seen mysterious figures, and even caught peculiar whiffs of rose petals…
02089 401950; nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house-and-garden
Image: ©National Trust Images/John Hammond
Crook Hall, Durham
This small 14th-century listed manor house in Durham city is not unfamiliar to spooky happenings. A white lady is rumoured to float down the staircase on St Thomas’ Eve and inside the medieval hall, where a gallant soldier was killed during a duel, some visitors have felt a mysterious cold breeze.
0191 384 8028; crookhallgardens.co.uk
Image: © 2016 Phil Smith Photography
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
The principle residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and the birth place of Winston Churchill, this monumental house is the the only non-royal residence in the UK to hold the title of palace. The Dean Jones room is also home to a ghostly chaplain, and some visitors have spotted a civil war Roundhead soldier huddled next to a fireplace in one of the bedrooms.
01993 810530; blenheimpalace.com
Image: Christopher Drake
Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire
Featured in our September 2015 issue, Renishaw Hall has been owned by the Sitwell family for over 350 years and is full of characterful extravagance. Dating back to 1625, there have been several accounts of ghostly experiences in the house. A handful of guests have been awoken by the feeling of cold kisses and a strange elderly servant has been seen drifting through the corridors.
01246 432 310; renishaw-hall.co.uk
Image: Christopher Drake
Lyme Park, Cheshire
Dating from the latter part of the 16th-century, Lyme is surrounded by vast ornamental gardens and deer parks. Now managed by the National Trust, the estate was previously owned by Piers Legh and his wife Margaret D’anyers. Piers was killed at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and some visitors have been privy to a ghostly enactment of his funeral prosession in the grounds, followed by wailing apparition of his mistress, Blanche.
01663 376023; nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme
Image: Andreas Von Einsiedel