Somerset’s haunted locations: 15 of the scariest places to visit
PUBLISHED: 10:44 24 October 2017
With landmarks steeped in history, coaching inns housing tragic tales and plenty of scary stories from around the region, its little wonder Somerset is full of haunted locations waiting to be explored. We’ve found 15 of the spookiest spots to visit if you dare!
Nestled in the heart of the town, Taunton Castle is an impressive historic monument and has been home to Taunton’s museum for over 100 years. The grand, stone-brick structure dates back to the 12th century and over the years has encountered plenty of grisly goings-on. The most infamous being the Bloody Assizes.
In 1685, after the Monmouth Rebellion, in the castle’s Great Hall, Judge Jeffreys ordered 144 supporters of James Monmouth to be hung, drawn and quartered for high treason. Visitors have witnessed the ghostly apparition of the Hanging Judge stomping up and down the corridors of the castle.
Wookey’s wonderful limestone caves, situated on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, are a delight for visitors to explore but also harbour a spooky tale or two.
The cave’s Witch of Wookey Hill is a human shaped stalagmite; legend has it that she was once an evil witch turned to stone by a monk from Glastonbury. Her ghostly figure is said to roam the tunnels within the caves!
The Choughs Hotel, Chard
The Choughs Hotel is a lively pub and hotel in the town of Chard and has been serving patrons since the 17th century. Dubbed one of the most haunted buildings in the UK, plenty of ghostly happenings have been reported by guests.
One of the first floor bedrooms is said to be haunted by a young girl called Elizabeth who committed suicide in 1845 because she didn’t want to go into prostitution like her mother and sister.
Another one of the hotel’s bedrooms is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who was stabbed to death in there and a lifeless apparition of a man who took his own life in the attic has been seen by terrified witnesses hanging from the attic’s rafters.
King John’s Hunting Lodge, Axbridge
King John’s Hunting Lodge was once a wool-merchant’s house in the 1500s but is now home to the Axbridge and District Museum. It still exudes the medieval charm from its former life as a bustling, working wool-merchants.
It is said that the small, timbered lodge is home to the ghost of a beautiful Elizabethan lady dressed in a shimmering white dress inside the property. Nobody knows who she is or why she haunts the building with some even saying her presence is down to overactive imaginations.
Many visitors have also spotted the spectral form of a tabby cat that appears in a doorway on the building’s first floor.
Steeped in history, and a grisly past involving the execution of Abbot Richard Whiting in 1549, the iconic landmark is also surrounded by legend.
One legend tells the story of a meeting between monk St Collen and Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairy Folk and Lord of Annwn who used the Tor as a doorway to the dead. The superstitious monk threw holy water at him, banishing the King and his army. It is believed on some nights that the howls from his ghost hounds can be heard while they hunt for souls.
The Plough Inn, Holford
Holford’s Plough Inn, most well known for being the place Virginia and Leonard Woolf spent their honeymoon, is home to the ghost of a murdered Spanish merchant who was said to have stayed in the inn before being robbed and murdered by locals who suspected him of having gold.
Clad in a dark cloak, he has appeared on the stairs leading to the bedrooms where he was killed and when the stairs were removed; his footsteps could still be heard.
The George and Pilgrim, Glastonbury
Located in the centre of Glastonbury, the 15th century George and Pilgrim still boasts an abundance of original features including old oak beams, mullion windows and panelled stone frontage.
While you enjoy your stay in the beautifully historic hotel, don’t be alarmed if you spot a phantom or two.
Guests have spotted a monk who flits around the narrow corridors in the early hours of the morning breaking the silence of the hotel and an elegant lady who sometimes follows him on his nocturnal wanderings, a look of admiration upon her pale face. It is reported her ghostly presence was photographed by a customer!
HM Prison, Shepton Mallet
The former prison house built in 1610 was home to plenty of notorious criminals including the infamous Kray twins.
Many gruesome executions and shootings took place inside the grim stone structure of HM Prison Shepton Mallet including 16 American soldiers who were hanged and two shot by firing squads for crimes of murder and rape. Before closure, staff reported seeing the ghostly figures of American servicemen.
The Francis Hotel, Bath
Occupying seven of the original 18th century townhouses that make up the south side of Bath’s Queen Square, The Francis Hotel is a beautiful hotel ideal for a luxurious break away.
Beware though, it has been reported that the hotel is home to the spooky ghostly figure of a former housekeeper who hung herself. One guest reported that they heard eerie scratching and tapping noises and their hot water bottle was flung off the table in their bedroom!
Explore the city of Bath by foot on a walking ghost tour; the city – which is steeped in history – has plenty of spooky stories to tell as you admire its various haunted landmarks.
Arnos Manor, Bristol
Originally built in 1760, the Arnos Manor in Bristol has more than its fair share of scary goings-on. First built as a private home for business merchant William Reeve in 1760, it then became a girl’s school which was run by nuns and it’s the ghost of one of these nuns that is said to haunt the hotel today.
Local legend says that a nun committed suicide because she fell pregnant and to hide the scandal the other nuns bricked up her body behind a wall in the hotel.
During the Second World War, the hotel was bombed and workmen rebuilding the damaged area uncovered a female skeleton and reburied the bones to avoid further delay. Since then ghostly activity has been prevalent throughout the hotel with witnesses spotting a ghostly brown figure. Some have even heard a female voice calling their name and have felt a figure pinning them down while they slept.
Nunney to Frome
Driving along the three mile stretch of road linking the village of Nunney to Frome at night can make put even the bravest on edge.
Rumour has it that in the 1970s, a phantom hitchhiker dressed in a flannel shirt, had been seen attempting to catch a ride, standing in the middle of the road and even making sudden manifestations in the back of cars. Although many have disputed the story, it has been widely claimed that ghostly goings-on have occurred between the two locations.
Nunney Castle has also been said to house paranormal activity; investigators have visited and experienced it first hand.
The Crown Hotel, Wells
Famous for its starring turn in the hit film Hot Fuzz, The Crown Hotel in Wells is a 15th century coaching inn with plenty of comfortable bedrooms and a cosy bar to enjoy a tipple or two. It has been reported that a few ghosts have kept guests company over the years.
One terrified member of staff witnessed a ghostly figure of a tall Victorian man standing next to the fireplace staring at him.
Other apparitions include that of an English Civil War soldier, a woman clutching a black suitcase and ghostly faces peering out of the hotel’s ground floor windows.
Priest’s House, Muchelny
Just a short drive from Langport lays the picturesque village of Muchelny, home to the medieval Priest’s House. Built in 1308 for the parish priest of the church opposite, it has been little altered since the early 17th century.
Guided tours, available upon booking, showcase interesting features including the Gothic doorway, magnificent double-height tracery windows and a massive 15th-century stone fireplace. Owned by the National Trust and available to rent, former tenants have experienced a ghostly presence living alongside them.
One legend centres on a nun and a priest who fell in love and secretly married. Once married, the priest hid the nun in a secret room and while away on parish duty, the monk returned only to find his lover dead in the secret hideaway. Since, strange happenings have occurred such as banging in the dead of the night and the sighting of a ghostly monk.
Yeovil Railway Station
Many have encountered the ghostly presence of Molly, a tea-lady who used to work in the railway’s buffet carriage, at Yeovil Railway station.
Molly died on the station platform in the 1960s and many have witnessed her antics from beyond the grave. Some of her tricks include swapping cutlery around and turning things on and off but she always stops when asked.
St Dubricius Church, Porlock
Still in the centre of Porlock’s Christian community and a popular tourist attraction, St Dubricius Church is an architectural wonder dating back to the 13th century. Rich in history, the church has many stories to tell including the spooky tale of the pirate that still haunts the church and churchyard, scaring villagers late at night with a distant cackle.
After death he continued to terrorise Porlock and 12 priests tried to banish him. After they failed, a priest from Watchet engaged the pirate in a game of wit and after winning forced the ghost into an iron box and cast it out to sea.