Britain's most haunted abandoned buildings
Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon
Image via Pete Blackwell, Flickr
Nestled deep within the wooded valleys of South Devon, the ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle appear charming and innocent during the hours of daylight. But when night falls, the derelict 12th century stonewalled grounds take on an altogether more sinister atmosphere.
Legend has it that the grand castle fell into disrepair in the 18th century after a raging fire, started by a flash of lightning, drove its inhabitants to find lodging elsewhere. The vacated grounds, overgrown with ivy, became the haunt of jackdaws and other non-human entities.
Nocturnal visitors often report sightings of a wispy white figure, identified as the ghost of Lady Margaret Pomeroy. The beautiful Margaret spent over two decades locked away in the castle dungeons following a toxic love triangle involving Margaret’s elder sister Eleanor and a shared love interest.
The ‘White Lady’ is allegedly often spotted drifting through the dungeons or hovering over the castle ramparts.
Read more: 7 Haunted British mansions
Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire
Image via Rough Guides
The haunting skeletal remains of Whitby Abbey stand imposingly on the Yorkshire coast, overlooking the tumultuous waves of the North Sea like something from a Gothic novel.
Indeed, the 7th-century convent, abandoned during the 1500s on the orders of Henry VIII, provided the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror novel Dracula.
Stoker was enthralled by the silhouetted ruins of the cliff-top abbey, which would form the backdrop to the dreadful Count Dracula's first arrival in England:
“An immense dog sprang up on deck from below… and running forward, jumped from the bow on to the sand. Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway… it disappeared in the darkness.”
–Dracula, Bram Stoker, 1897
In addition to being the spiritual birthplace of literature’s most infamous vampiric villain, Whitby is also said to be haunted by a dead-eyed staring nun whose body was found bricked up within the abbey walls.
Read more: 10 of the world’s spookiest ghost towns
Hellfire Caves, West Wycombe
Image via Ghost Adventures Wiki
Underneath the village of West Wycombe lies a 500-metre network of manmade chalk and flint caverns. Inspired by the eccentric Francis Dashwood’s Grand Tours of the Ottoman Empire, the Hellfire caves were originally excavated in the 1740s to provide employment to the villagers following a succession of harvest failures.
Despite the caves’ noble beginnings, they quickly became notorious for hosting Dashwood’s salacious Hellfire Club meetings. So-called ‘persons of quality,’ such as the 4th Earl of Sandwich and William Hogarth, regularly attended debauched banquets in the caverns.
Wearing ritual clothing, the Hellfire Club—originally named the ‘Order of Knights of West Wycombe’—held ancient ceremonies to celebrate pagan Gods. Wit and wine were prerequisites and female guests were often entertained. It is rumoured that Benjamin Franklin even attended the club as a spy.
Steeped in occult history, it is no wonder the underground lair is said to be haunted by a number of paranormal vessels to this day.
Denbigh Asylum, Wales
Image via Derelict Places
The North Wales Hospital opened in 1848 and was once the home of around 1,500 patients—some of whom were caged and given lobotomies.
Years of neglect, and suspected arson attacks, following Denbigh’s closure in 1995 have left the huge Gothic hospital in disrepair. Debris strewn rooms with smashed windows, caved-in roofs, graffiti-stained walls, and buckled wheelchairs create a ramshackle environment, which, combined with the asylum’s horrific past, is fertile ground for rumours of paranormal activity.
Archaic, highly toxic, treatments such as mercury and antimony were often administered to patients, while some were subjected to electric shock therapy. These controversial methods probably did more harm than good to the troubled patients, contributing to the horrific suffering that took place within the hospital grounds.
Phantom footsteps and lingering wails are regularly heard by visitors, leading many to believe that apparitions of past patients remain trapped in the dilapidated asylum.
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Feature image via Photobucket