Houses and ghosts go together like bread and butter. Like cheese and crackers. Like midnight ice cream and crushing existential dread.
It’s no surprise that as long as we’ve lived in houses, we’ve haunted them – and why wouldn’t we? Houses are containers for people, and people are containers for a whole lot of energy – positive and negative. We may as well ditch the middle man when we shuffle off this mortal coil and besides, if you’re going to be a ghost, why not stick around somewhere you’re familiar with.
Although we often picture creepy old houses as the ones with ghosts, this isn’t always the case. That being said, the haunted homes we’ll discuss today are of the creepy old variety.
But remember: Your two bed semi in the suburbs is just as haunt-able as the sprawling mansion with the boarded up windows.
Borley Rectory, Essex, England
Once being described as “the most haunted house in England,” Borley rectory was made famous for the supernatural shenanigans that took place behind its walls.
Built in 1862, it served as the home for the rector of Borley Parish, Henry Dawson Ellis Bull. The 1862 building was itself a replacement for the earlier rectory, which was burnt to the ground in 1841.
In the early 1900s, the Reverend’s daughters reportedly witnessed the apparition of a nun walking the gardens at twilight. Upon investigating, they found the figure vanished into thin air. A variety of paranormal visitations followed, including the sightings of a phantom coach, accompanied by headless horsemen, seen by a variety of witnesses.
Later, when the Smith family began their tenure of the house, the skull of a young woman was found in a cupboard and the strange events intensified. This included the ringing of previously disconnected servant bells, unexplained footsteps and the appearance of lights in the windows.
The Smith’s were put in touch with the Society for Psychical Research and the infamous Harry Price became involved in the case. During his first investigation of the house, objects were thrown and “spirit messages” were communicated via knocking on the mirror – all of which abruptly ceased when Price left. It’s noted that Mrs Smith believed Price was the perpetrator of this additional phenomena.
Still, once the Smith’s departed from the house, the paranormal activity continued, this time reported by Reverend Lionel Foyster and his family. This new family heralded the discovery of scribbled messages throughout the walls of the house, which Mrs Foyster replied to in an attempt at communication.
This chapter of the house’s bizarre history is filled with attempted exorcisms and further investigations by researchers, although it was not without claims of trickery. Even Mrs Foyster admitted to exaggerating the paranormal events, as she used these as a cover for the affair she was conducting with a lodger.
By 1937, Harry Price returned to Borley, renting it for a year in order to thoroughly investigate its claims. He is said to have contacted two separate spirits through the use of séances.
The first, he claimed, was the spirit of a French nun, named Marie, who left her convent and travelled to England to marry a member of the Waldegrave family – the 17th-century owners of what was then known as Borley Hall. She was subsequently murdered, with her body disposed of in either an old well or the manor’s cellar.
The second claimed to name himself as Sunex Amures, and supposedly claimed he would set fire to the rectory on the night of the séance – 27th March 1938.
This didn’t happen, however, on 27th February, the following year, a fire – set by an accidentally knocked oil lamp – severely damaged the house, which was later torn down. By the 1960s the land had been split up and redeveloped into modern housing.
Not content to leave Borley completely, Harry Price returned in the 1940s to dig at what then remained of the cellar, and found what he claimed were human bones. Borley Parish refused to bury the bones, as they believed there were that of a pig, but they were interred nearby.
Llancaiach Fawr, Rhymney Valley, South Wales
Initially mentioned in Vol 4 of Around the World in Eighty Ghosts, Llancaiach Fawr (pronounced roughly as Clan-kai-uk V-hour) is known by every child in South Wales as one of the two go-to field trip destinations (the other being St. Fagan’s Welsh Living Museum).
There has been a residence on the site of Llancaiach Fawr for 4,000 years, but the manor as it stands today dates from the 1500s.
At least four ghosts are said to call the manor home, with one of the most active being the spirit of a former maid, known as Mattie. Mattie was said to have been in residence between the 18th and 19th century before her death in an accidental fire.
Her former bedroom is said to be particularly active, with visitors experiencing intense emotional episodes in its vicinity.
Other eternal residents include a young boy who died in a fall in 1906, who’s ghostly visage has been glimpsed, and footsteps heard.
As is often the case, one of the manor’s former owners is also said to roam its hallways, in addition to a phantom man in black, who supposedly haunts the perimeter walls with murderous intent.
This Grade I Listed Manor features in many a list of top UK haunted locations and hosts regular ghost tours. So if you or your kids take a trip to Llancaiach Fawr, be sure you’re extra polite to the costumed actors.
One of them could be a ghost.
Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire, England
Unlike the other haunted homes on this list, Woodchester Mansion, as it stands today was never actually inhabited. In fact, despite its imposing outer structure, the mansion was actually left unfinished, and has remained so since the 1870s.
Unfortunately, for us, ghosts weren’t to blame for this. Mr Leigh – who demolished the original manor house – simply ran out of money, and his successors never managed to complete it.
However, despite its current state, the house itself and it’s accompanying land, is said to be packed to the rafters with ghosts and ghouls. Whether or not these spirits were drawn to the empty house is unknown, although given that the original manor dated back to the Middle Ages.
Visitors have reported phantom footsteps and other unexplained noises, as well as strange lights and stones dropping the tall ceilings – which wouldn’t be so inexplainable, had they not been seen to travel horizontally.
Other ghostly apparitions are said to include, a young girl, an American airman, a phantom horseman, a ghostly stonemason and a floating head.
Woodchester Mansion is open to the public and paranormal investigators often arrange tours.
Which is you favourite haunted house? Is your house haunted? Let me know!
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