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Britain’s most notorious haunted houses guaranteed to scare you silly

Visitors to Britain love the history and its fascinating quirky culture. Here are some of Britain’s most notorious haunted houses you can check out for yourself to experience genuinely spooky goings on!

London’s officially creepiest house is 284 Green Street in Enfield, North London. The subject of a famous poltergeist haunting in the 1970s which split opinion in the media but generated dozens of front page headlines, the rickety old house in an unremarkable street attracts sightseers to this day hoping to catch a whiff of the bizarre events which terrorised a family.

In a real-life version of the notorious horror film The Exorcist, 12 year old Janet Hodgson was alleged to have become possessed by the trapped spirit of a grumpy old man called Bill Wilkins who died in the house. Disowned by his family, Wilkins lay dead in the house until a neighbour raised the alarm due to the swarms of flies on the inside of the windows which were attracted to his corpse.

The Hodgson family were subjected to months of sudden bizarre attacks by the supposed ghost of Wilkins. Cupboards shot across the room, members of the family and the paranormal investigators present for weeks at a time in the house reported being thrown violently into walls and electronic recording equipment constantly played up or was destroyed.

The house is the subject of a new tv drama series which is being hailed as the best reconstruction of a famous ghost story ever to hit the screens due in the main to its sheer normalcy and ordinariness of the surroundings and setting.

Chillingham Castle in the north of England near to the border with Scotland was England’s version of Guantanamo Bay for 300 years between the 15th and 17th Centuries. In this instance, the terrorists in question were fierce Scottish clansmen who resisted the iron fist of English rule for centuries.

When a Scotsman was captured by the English and was suspected of fighting against the English Red Coats they were sent to Chillingham Castle for questioning, confessions extracted by the use of brutal torture and eventually a grisly, protracted death.

After the Scots were tormented to the point of death in the castle’s dungeon using delightful devices like the Iron Maiden pictured above which was full of short spikes just long enough to puncture their skin and cause bleeding and infection, they would be hanged from the trees in the grounds, disembowelled and cut into pieces while still conscious. It is estimated around 7,000 Scottish freedom fighters met a painful and miserable end at the castle in this way.

The challenge for overnight visitors to the eerie and very scary castle is to walk down the drive late at night amongst the trees they used to hang the unfortunate Scots. Unsurprisingly, and from personal experience, very few manage this little perambulation without turning round and scooting back to the cosy glow of the castle’s lights midway.

The Cage in Essex, east of London, has been on the “must see” list for visiting paranormal groups since it’s current owner Vanessa Mitchell bought the house innocently eight years ago. No sooner had she moved in,  strange and very frightening events began, terrorising Vanessa and her young family.

A single mom, Vanessa began to realise she was more sensitive to spooky goings-on than she had realised. Belongings began to disappear or move, bloodstains appeared on the carpet and faces would loom in the darkness. Over the following months all the tell-tale signs of a haunted house began to manifest. Cups would fly around and smash, voices could be heard from other rooms, foot steps and children crying began to plague Vanessa Mitchell’s life.

Some research into the old house’s recent history revealed that the tenant before her had hanged himself on the stairs immediately in front of the door and he was discovered by his girlfriend who walked right into his suspended body as it swung from the ceiling.

Looking further back, Vanessa discovered the house had been used as a prison during the height of England’s clamp down on witches and witchcraft during the 16th century. The new socialist leader of the country, Oliver Cromwell,  who temporarily took over from the royals, ordered that everyone suspected of witchcraft should be killed.

Vanessa’s house was the local sheriff’s prison which contained a small holding cell hence the name ‘Cage’. A famous local witch, Ursula Kemp, was considered a ring-leader for the dark arts and she was held at the prison before being hanged in the nearby local town. Historical accounts suggest Ursula Kemp made no secret of her practices and was befriended by Cromwell’s witch finder general who promptly had her hanged.

Vanessa Mitchell, being a resourceful person, turned her unfortunate purchase into a business and has run paranormal vigils in the house ever since to great success with groups and media travelling from all over the world to investigate the odd occurrences in the house which is alleged to be very active, even today. A permanent bank of tv screens in the kitchen record paranormal activity. Orbs can be seen whizzing around constantly.

“If a buyer comes forward who has plans to make the Cage into an even better mini House of Horrors I would happily sell to them. I couldn’t sell the house to someone who actually wanted to live there. They wouldn’t stay!”

Our final tip for a quick shiver is The Skirrid Inn, a tavern and hotel on the edge of Wales and England. The Inn is one of the very oldest public buildings in Britain and has been welcoming weary travellers since the 13th century – the time of the Norman Conquests and the Crusades by Christian knights to the Middle East under Richard the Lionheart, king of England.

The Skirrid Inn’s most notorious claim to fame was its use as a rough and ready courthouse. Thieves, robbers and sheep rustlers were tried and put to death here. There is a very melodramatic hangman’s noose dangling in the central stair way where convicted criminals were left swinging while locals enjoyed an ale and a hearty meal after the hanging.

The ghost of a sheep rustler is said to appear to visitors and guests who are brave enough to stay overnight. The atmosphere is very unnerving in the place and it feels as if someone is constantly watching you, wherever you are.

After paying the Skirrid Inn a visit to research this article, my camera froze up – which has never happened before – my phone stopped working altogether and even the iPod in my car froze and took multiple attempts to reset it before it finally relented and began to work again the next day.

 

Simon Ludgate
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