Halloween is nearly here and as you would expect from a region with so much history, there are a whole host of haunted castles, houses, pubs and mansions for you to visit to get you in the Halloween spirit.
It is rumoured that Buckland Abbey’s former resident, Sir Francis Drake continues to stalk the halls of the abbey which is now managed by the National Trust. Drake bought the abbey in the 1500s after spending many years at sea but the locals were less than happy with him moving in – local legend stats that he made a pact with the devil to help him get all the refurbishments done on time and that part of the pact means that he can never move on. It is said that his ghost travels Dartmoor in a coach driven by headless horses and following a pack of howling hounds. Locals warn that any dog that hears the pack’s cries will die immediately.
Berry Pomeroy Castle
Believed to be England’s most haunted castle, Berry Pomeroy was the former home of the Seymour family who were a prominent noble family during the Tudor and Elizabethan eras. The house was built in the 1560s but was never completed and has been abandoned since the 1700s which is when the ghost stories started. Two recurring figures include the White Lady and the Blue Lady who compete with each other to lure unsuspecting visitors to their deaths. Other spirits that have been recorded there include a small child called Isabella, two dogs, an old gardener, a guardsman and a can bearer who is said to poke people as they pass.
The White Lady is said to be the spirit of Lady Margaret Pomeroy. She haunts the dungeons where she was imprisoned and starved to death by her own sister. Berry Pomeroy Castle is still owned by the Seymour family but is managed by English Heritage.
It isn’t just Devon’s grand homes that house spirits, Wistman’s Woods on Dartmoor also appears on Most Haunted places lists. Local legend claims that Wistman’s Woods, which in fairness, does have something supernatural about it, was once the site where druids would undertake their rituals and there have been a number of reports of ghostly activities and strange goings on.
This fascinating Norman castle is said to be the home of one of Devon’s most feared judges, Judge Jeffreys. Judge Jeffreys was the one that handed out the punishments after the Monmouth Rebellion and held court in many of the towns across Devon.
Thought to be Torquay’s oldest building, Torre Abbey was founded in 1196 and is the best surviving medieval monastery in the Devon and Cornwall region. These days, it is home to a herb garden inspired by Agatha Christie and regularly hosts art events, welcoming hundreds of people through its doors.
There are a number of ghosts that live there, with the earliest being reported from as far back as the 1300s! Among them is The Spanish Lady who was incarcerated in the barn after Sir Francis Drake captured her ship, the Nuestra Senora del Rosario and brought all the crew and passengers ashore. Lady Cary is another, as the former mistress of the house, she hasn’t neglected her fine looks and is often seen in a magnificent ball gown. Reports have also been made of a headless ghost that is thought to be that of a cleric who was beheaded by the Abbot back in the 1300s.
Originally built by one of the first Earls of Devon, the castle site in Tiverton has had many owners and now you can even stay overnight in parts of the castle grounds! If you choose the castle for your accommodation, keep your eyes peeled for the resident ghosts. The best known of these apparitions is Lady Alice Spencer and her lover, a peasant man called Maurice. The story of these hapless lovers includes Alice’s father, Sir Hugh Spencer, who was governor of the castle. He wanted to marry his daughter to a friend of his who was several years her senior and was well known as being a violent man. Alice resisted as she was actually in love with Maurice Fortescue, the castle’s manager. There was an altercation between Hugh and Maurice which led to a dual, Maurice lost and Alice drowned herself in the nearby river. Ever since, when the Exe is in flood, the pair are said to be seen walking together arm in arm around the castle’s grounds.
The castle has been part of the same family for generations and is open as a tourist attraction as well as being a family home. The fact that it is occupied by the living hasn’t put off the ghosts from visiting though. The most famous of the hauntings is known as The Grey Lady who is often seen strolling between the castle and the church or walking around the castle library. It is believed that she is Lady Frances, the wife of Viscount Courtenay in the 1700s.
Okehampton Castle is haunted by Lady Howard who is said to have organised the deaths of her four husbands. As a result, her spirit is condemned to travel across Dartmoor and then plucking one blade of grass at a time from the hill surrounding Okehampton Castle. Only when all the grass is gone, will she be able to move on.
Located in Plymouth, this magnificent manor has appeared on screen numerous times, but whether or not any of the resident ghosts ever showed up remains to be seen. The house is supposedly haunted by a former kitchen maid who was said to have been murdered while in service. She is often seen walking through the corridors and into the dining room, but never appears on the other side. Another spirit that has been reported is a small children that likes to sit on people’s beds and stare at them.
Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh
Holy Trinity Church is now just ruins but in its hayday, it was a beautiful building that overlooked the town from the top of a hill. The church is the final resting place of Richard Cabell, a local man that was considered so evil by locals that they built a whole new building around his tomb with a heavy stone on top of it and iron bars along one side. The local’s fear sparked a legend that a pack of hounds visit the tomb at night which inspired the Hound of the Baskervilles.