Eerie apparitions, headless horsemen, chanting monks and mysterious figures lurking in the shadows; there are plenty of things going bump in the night in the Cotswolds. Being a region so steeped in history, it is home to some of the most haunted places in England, making it the perfect destination for a spooky day out this Halloween.
Looking for spooky things to do in the Cotswolds? We have unearthed some of the most haunted locations in the Cotswolds to visit if you dare. From creepy castles to hair-raising houses and ghastly ghost tours, you’ll find all the ingredients for a harrowing adventure that is sure to send shivers down your spine. You wouldn’t want to visit alone…
Sudeley Castle and Gardens, near Winchcombe
Fancy a fright this Halloween? With 1,000 years of bloody history, Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe is no stranger to ghostly guests. Richard III, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth I and Charles I are just some of the kings and queens who feature in the castle’s chilling history - and buried in the grounds, is the Tudor queen and the last of Henry VIII six wives, Katherine Parr who tragically died during childbirth in 1548. Her ghost is said to wander the corridors and the nursery of the castle, often accompanied by the heart-rending sobs of a crying child. If you spot a tall lady in a green dress or smell apple-scented perfume, she may be nearby.
Woodchester Mansion, Woodchester
Prepare to be scared at Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire, a mysteriously unfinished 19th-century Gothic masterpiece that is home to terrifying spirits in its dark corridors. Tremendous bangs, stones thrown from empty rooms and Poltergeist activity have all been reported by those who have dared to step inside - ghost hunts here are certainly not for the faint-hearted. Having featured on TV’s Most Haunted, the mansion is regarded as one of the most haunted buildings in the UK and holds a history of death, sinister magic and even murder.
Why not discover the ghastly goings-on for yourself on a spine-tingling overnight ghost tour? Watch out for the phantom horseman who rides along the mansion’s driveway and a floating head in one of the bathrooms, and keep your fingers crossed that you don’t get grabbed by the ghost of an elderly woman who lurks in the darker parts of the mansion.
HM Prison, Gloucester
For a truly hair-raising experience this Halloween, test your nerve in the HM Prison in Gloucester, one of the most haunted places in the Cotswolds. With a long and horrifying history of death, executions and burials, and the foreboding cells having held some of the country’s most infamous criminals, there have been a plethora of reports of knocks, bangs, cell doors slamming and shadowy figures peering around corners on C Wing. The most common apparition is a female prisoner who was held in the cells of a nearby abbey, said to be searching for an inmate that killed her, returning every night in her quest for revenge.
The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge
One of England’s most haunted houses, The Ancient Ram Inn in Wotton-under-Edge is home to a whole host of paranormal activity. Built on an ancient burial ground, the infamous Inn has witnessed black magic rituals and child sacrifices, and the spirits of around 20 spectres are still very much in residence today, tormenting visitors brave enough to enter. Hiding in the shadows within its gloomy corridors, creaking stairways and creepy bedrooms are a witch who was burnt at the stake in the 1500s, two demons, a monk and the spirit of a lady known as Elizabeth who is believed to have been murdered and buried beneath the bar. Rarely failing to terrify the most hardened of ghost hunters, the owner regularly opens the doors to enthusiasts seeking the ultimate ghost hunting experience.
For close encounters of the spooky kind, the Cotswold village of Prestbury is reputedly one of the most haunted villages in England with no fewer than 20 ghosts. The Black Abbot is the most notorious ghost of Prestbury and is regularly spotted roaming the churchyard, while The Charging Horseman appears riding his white horse at Easter and Christmas in Shaw Green Lane and the Burgage. The village certainly harbours a few dark secrets and a ghost tour of Prestbury is bound to leave you with a chill down your spine. Why not stop for a drink in The Plough afterwards? Don’t be surprised if one of the tweed-clad gentlemen suddenly vanishes mid-conversation, and if you listen carefully, you might hear the faint sound of horses’ hooves.
Berkley Castle, Berkley
The scene of a gruesome royal murder, Berkley Castle makes a spooky setting for a day out in the haunted Cotswolds. King Edward II was ordered to death in 1327 by his wife Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer following months of imprisonment – with a red-hot poker said to be the murder weapon. Surely one of the most horrific and torturous deaths in history, the room where he faced his horrible end can still be visited today and his blood-curdling screams are often heard throughout the castle on the anniversary of his death.
Minster Lovell Hall, Minster
On a misty Halloween morning, there’s nowhere more eerie than the haunting ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, a 15th century Oxfordshire manor house. Mysteriously abandoned and eventually demolished in the 18th century, these remains encase several spooky legends including the ghost of Lord Lovell who is regularly glimpsed wandering among the atmospheric, empty rooms.
The story goes that Lord Lovell was hidden in a secret chamber within Minster Lovell Hall after the defeat at the battle of Stoke Field in 1487, the last battle of the War of the Roses. His presence was known to one trusty servant who he gave the only key. The servant died shortly after, which left Lord Lovell and his faithful little dog to their grisly fate. In 1708 his skeleton, and that of his dog at his feet, were uncovered by workmen. Could this be the ghost who wails in the night?
Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester
There are some ghoulish goings-on at the 13th century Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester. If you are looking for a unique ghost hunting experience in the Cotswolds, this dark and menacing building offers terrifying paranormal activity, perfect for a Halloween horror night. The Bleeding Friar, the oldest resident of Blackfriars Priory, is said to creep down corridors with an open head wound leaving a trail of blood behind him and hover near the dungeon - perhaps you’ll hear his ghostly chants and smell the burning of beeswax candles. Follow the inexplicable sounds of shuffling, watch out for shadowy figures and hope the door doesn’t mysteriously lock by its own accord.
Ragged Cot Inn, Cirencester
Feeling peckish? Why not enjoy a wholesome meal in one of the most haunted pubs in the Cotswolds? The Ragged Cot Inn in Cirencester has been serving patrons since the 17th century and is steeped in morbid history with an abundance of spooky events that have occurred within its walls. As well as hearing strange noises as you tuck into your dinner, you may encounter two ghostly apparitions known as the wife and child of ex-landlord Bill Clavers. In 1760 Bill decided to drunkenly rob the midnight stagecoach travelling to London. His wife, with their child in her arms, attempted to stop him, but Bill pushed her aside, causing her and their child to fall down the stairs to their deaths. Their ghosts have remained, forever waiting at the foot of the stairs.
Café Rene, Gloucester
Could there be a more apt way of celebrating Halloween in the Cotswolds than dancing the night away with the dead at Café Rene in Gloucester, the home of live music, great food and sinister spirits? The historic building’s basement used to connect underground to the St. Mary de Crypt Church, so you might find yourself bopping amongst the ghosts of chanting monks – the landlord even felt an invisible hand on his shoulder one night. Spooky!
Gruesome ghost tours
Who needs Halloween films when you can bring to life some of the most haunted places in Britain on a Cotswolds ghost tour? With professional guides leading the tours that are centred around historical events, you can really get into the legends behind these iconic gothic areas of the Cotswolds. Come nightfall, discover some of the region’s eeriest locations and learn of the darker side of history. We hope you’re not afraid of the dark…
- The Bloody Bourton Walking Tour: discover the murky history of Bourton-on-the-Water and hear of the ghosts, murder, bloody battles, witchcraft and religious persecution that the village wants to keep a secret.
- Bill Spectre’s Ghost Trail: behind the facades of Burford’s historic High Street, there are ghostly goings-on including a haunted priory where people have heard spine-chilling screams and the sounds of monks singing.
- Cheltenham Ghost Walk: uncover the unexplained supernatural events in Cheltenham including one of the most documented and highly researched cases in British paranormal history, ‘The Morton Case’, as well as a murderous butler and the medieval witchcraft and torture in Puckham Woods.
- Oxford Ghost Tours: find out about the many spooks and spectres who stalk the shadowy recesses in Oxford University’s ancient buildings.
- The Stratford Town Ghost Walk: explore Stratford-upon-Avon at night with a ghost tour through the streets which includes chilling stories of the haunted buildings and the spirits that linger there.
Where to stay in the Cotswolds
After discovering some of the most haunted houses in the Cotswolds, you’ll be needing somewhere warm and cosy to rest your head at the end of the day. We can’t guarantee ghosts, but we do promise a home-away-from-home in some of the most beautiful Cotswold locations with walks, pubs and great views from the doorstep. Why not have a browse of our holiday cottages in the Cotswolds and start planning your next spooky break?