Halloween is coming and with it, the re-ermegence of some of North Devon’s spookiest tales. If you’re hoping to enjoy a couple of thrills this October, here are a couple of the creepiest places in the region that you can visit – you never know, you might spot an elusive spirit or two!
These days, the North Devon coast is known for its beauty and boasts some of Britain’s best beaches. Did you know though at one time it was known as the Sailor’s Grave? Which is why our first spooky location is along the coast…
Mortehoe and Morte Point
Mortehoe is one of the most beautiful spots in North Devon, the rugged cliff face, those sea views… It is a lovely place to visit, that is if you ignore its gruesome history. Morte Point literally translates to Death Point in Latin and has long been well known for shipwrecks, with many a ship ending up on the rocks. The village was popular with smugglers and wreckers who would lie in wait for ships to hit the rocks so they could salvage the valuables – at the time, there was a law in place that forbid the looting of a ship if any of the crew were still alive leading to several murders in the area too. One of the most prolific wreckers was a woman called Elizabeth Berry, who was said to murder surviving sailors with a pitchfork so she could loot the ships. She was arrested in 1850 and served 21 days of hard labour. On another occasion, she was arrested for wrecking on Barricane Beach and was fined £1 which she failed to pay. According to local history, she and her family left North Devon for Wales.
Seafield House, Westward Ho!
Seafield House can be easily spotted from the road and is known locally as the Haunted House, though whether or not it is actually haunted remains to be seen. Plenty of people have claimed that they have experienced spine tingling phenomenon while near the house, while others have heard noises coming from the direction of the house after dark. The house itself has 12 bedrooms and has been abandoned for years – which is a shame as it is in a much sought after location and has incredible views across the sea.
The Devil’s Stone, Shebbear
Did you know there is a Devil’s Stone in Shebbear? The large stone was said to have been dropped on the village by the devil as he fell from heaven and every year on 5th November, the villages turn the stone to ward off the devil and keep the village from falling into his clutches.
Historians say that the stone was actually brought to the village by Druids, but there is no real evidence of this and no one really knows where the story of the devil came from – all we know for sure is that it isn’t made up of local stones so it remains a mystery. Besides, the idea of it actually being left by the devil is much more fun!
Right next to the stone is a pub named for it that is also said to be haunted, so that’s two more spooky sites for you to investigate!
You might have heard of the Salem Witch Trials over the pond and you might have heard of the Pendle Witches, who were the subject of one of Britain’s most notorious witch trials, but did you know that the town of Bideford was the home to the last women to ever be executed for the crime of witchcraft? Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards were all local to Bideford.
Temperance was arrested in 1682 after a local shopkeeper accused her of being a witch to police. She was locked in the old chapel at the end of the town’s bridge for the whole weekend before being taken to the town’s justices, where she admitted to all the charges made against her and claimed to have killed three people and blinding another, she was moved to Exeter Gaol where she remained until her trial.
Mary and Susannah were also investigated in 1682 after being accused by a local woman who claimed they had used witchcraft to make her ill. Mary also confessed and claimed that Susannah initiated her into a coven. All three women were convicted by a jury and sentenced to death – they were hung on 25th August 1682 on the outskirts of Exeter and were buried in unconsecrated ground which is now believed to be the site of the St Luke’s Campus of Exeter University. There is a museum in Bideford which has a display all about the trials and the three women that you can visit. Perhaps there is still a hint of magic to be found there?
Looking for more spooky things to enjoy over Halloween? Check out what’s on here.