Pumpkin carving season is upon on us and we’ve asked international travellers which creepy castles and eerie inns are best for ghost hunting.
Dobbins Inn in Antrim County, Northern Ireland
The first and most gruesome ghost to haunt the hallways of Dobbins Inn was Elizabeth Dobbins, the wife of the building's original owner, Hugh Dobbins. Elizabeth was having an affair with a soldier — who went by the ominous nickname of ‘Buttoncap’ — and when Hugh found out he murdered both his wife and her lover with a sword.
Today, Elizabeth is more often known as Maud (the reasons for this name change are regularly debated in the Inn’s bar) and multiple guests say that they’ve had their face stroked by her icy invisible hand.
The Ostrich Inn in Slough, England
Mr and Mrs Jarman, a pair of The Ostrich Inn's early landlords, also happened to be infamous killers. They installed a trap door in one of the bedrooms which, when activated, would tip the sleeping guest into a vat of boiling fat.
The current owners — who recent guests assure us are far nicer than their predecessors — are very happy to discuss the building’s history. Indeed, they seem quite proud of how notorious the building has become, with over 60 murders having been committed at this exquisitely-furnished inn (although none this century).
Dalhousie Castle Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland
The 13th-century Dalhousie Castle has so many ghosts — including Hollywood favourite, the Grey Lady — that the current day owners have set up their own ghost tours, in a bid to make sure that visitors don’t miss any of the many, many, opportunities for spirit-spotting.
Another of the famous deceased residents (and a highlight of the ghost tour) is Sir Alexander Ramsay, who was reportedly starved to death in 1342 by the castle’s then-owner. However, visitors don’t have to join the official tour to meet Sir Ramsay or the Grey Lady, with many guests reporting incidents of moving furniture, ghostly hands, unsettling noises and unexplained footsteps all of their own accord.
The Jamaica Inn in Cornwall, England
Possibly the best-known haunted Inn in the UK, Jamaica Inn was at the heart of Cornwall’s smuggling trade and had plenty of ghostly sightings long before novelist Daphne du Maurier brought it international attention with her book of the same name.
In fact, there have been so many spectres spotted at this atmospheric inn that the British Paranormal Association conducted a prolonged investigation, an episode of Most Haunted was filmed here, and the Inn put on regular Paranormal Investigation weekends. Although faint-hearted visitors will hopefully be reassured that the resident 11-year-old ghost Hannah is said to be ‘very polite’.
Dalston Hall Hotel in Cumbria, England
Dalston Hall is easily the creepiest building on our list, if only for the names of its ghosts. The Handyman and Mr Fingernails are said to haunt the Hall’s cellar, Sad Emily spends her time floating around Room 4, and there have been multiple sightings of a ghost who has been given the gruesome (and unwieldy) moniker of Girl Being Dragged By Hair.
Perhaps the most sinister story to come out of this luxurious country house is a review from a previous guest who reported that he: ‘Thoroughly enjoyed my stay and the comfy bed, it was so comfortable my girlfriend said the ghosts of the building must of been singing her lullabies as it's the best sleep she’s had in weeks.’
Ballyseede Castle in Kerry, Ireland
The ghosts at this grand hotel are so well established that Ballyseede Castle was the subject of a TV documentary on the supernatural. Guests report that the resident ghosts are friendly, if a little cold (those chilly phantom hands) and the most popular sighting is a World War One field nurse named Hilda.
Hilda is seen on 24th March every year but she is also know to pop up at sporadic moments throughout the year. The scent of roses usually foreshadows her appearances and guests have been known to ask to switch rooms in order to improve their chance of meeting Hilda.
Ackergill Tower Castle in Highlands, Scotland
The Ackergill Tower Castle really does have it all when it comes to tragic ghosts and near-guaranteed spectre-sightings. Helen Gunn is the best known and most frequent otherworldly visitor. Kidnapped by the son of a rival family in the 15th century, Helen was imprisoned in the castle tower and told that she must marry her captor, Dugald Keith.
Rather than give in, Helen waited until the night before her wedding and then jumped from the tower. Since her death, however, Helen appears to have developed a fondness for Ackergill Tower Castle and is often spotted taking a nighttime stroll by the hotel’s guests.