Ghost hunt! Visit Berkshire’s most haunted
The veil between worlds has grown thin, and there are plenty of ghosts wandering in our neighbourhood. We know exactly where to see them for yourself, if you dare...
South Hill Park, Bracknell
WHERE: South Hill Park is an award-winning arts centre, theatre and community space with all the period drama of Bridgerton. It has had many grand inhabitants over the decades, including George Canning, Britain’s shortest serving Prime Minister.
GHOST HUNT: Not for the faint hearted, people have experienced countless unexplained rattlings, slamming doors, footsteps, screams, wailings and bangs at South Hill Park. The culprit? The blame is pinned on former owner Major Rickman who shot himself in the gunroom after struggling with crippling debt. The ghostly figure of a Victorian woman also haunts the studio theatre and the ghost of a menacing-looking child laughing has been spotted in the hallways.
Windsor Castle, Windsor
WHERE: Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the UK and the Queen’s home from home. Built by William Conqueror in 1066, it has had many Grand Design renovations and extensions over the years to make it the royal des res we know today.
GHOST HUNT: Orf with their heads! In the past royals not been shy to dish out the death penalty. As you would expect, Windsor Castle has seen a lot of death – both royals and commoners. The most prolific ghost here would be Henry VIII. There have been sightings of the Tudor King in the cloisters and wandering the corridors dragging his ulcerated leg behind him. The royal hauntings don’t end there, mad King George III, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have all been spotted in the castle and grounds. I bet the late Duke of Edinburgh will be tickled to join such an illustrious crowd.
The Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook
WHERE: The Ostrich Inn in the village of Colnbrook has all the vibes you would expect from a 12th century pub: wooden beams, roaring fires, crooked staircase, with a smart refurb to give us modern style we all love.
GHOST HUNT: There have been reports of sudden temperature drops, strange noises, voices and sightings of a Victorian lady haunting the upstairs corridor. More than 60 people have been killed here, many of whom were bumped off by former innkeeper Jarman and his wife in the 17th Century. The murderous couple put trap doors in the floorboards and tipped rich guests into a vat of boiling liquid while they slept. Creepy right?! Jarman and his wife would then steal their money and sell their horses.
Bisham Abbey, Maidenhead
WHERE: Built in 1260, the Grade I listed manor house has been home to Templar Knights, was once used to jail Queen Elizabeth of Scots and was later given to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII in their divorce settlement. It’s now home to Sport England’s National Sports Centre (HQ for Team GB Hockey) and a rather chichi wedding venue.
GHOST HUNT: It’s rumoured Lady Hoby’s ghost now roams the grounds at night, terrorising guests and crying out while wringing her blood-soaked hands. She was the wife of scholar and diplomat Sir Thomas Hoby – a fiercely intelligent woman who beat her son William to death after becoming increasingly frustrated at him for being a slow learner. There have been reports of her violently rearranging bedroom furniture and, in the early 20th Century, a rower was lodging at Bisham Abbey during Henley Regatta and was so shaken from his ghostly encounter he quit rowing the next day and joined the church.
Market Place, Newbury
WHERE: Market Place is a buzzy part of Newbury Town Centre with lots of period charm. The historic Corn Exchange building is home to the theatre, a yoga studio and café now occupy the old town hall and the square is lined with pubs, cafés, shops and restaurants.
GHOST HUNT: Back in the day, criminals were forced to stand in the stocks here while being pelted with abuse and vegetables. Market Street is also known to be a former Quaker burial site, so it’s safe to say that’ll all the activity above ground would be enough to raise dead. Not one but three spooks doing the walk of shame. In 1538, Thomas Barrie had his ears nailed to the stock and chopped off after he was accused of spreading seditious rumours about King Henry VIII. He is said to have died of fright and since then several people claim to have seen his earless ghost wandering around Market Street moaning in pain. The ghost of a Quaker lady has also been spotted roaming around Cheap Street.
Littlecote House, Hungerford
WHERE: Littlecote House is a Grade I listed Tudor manor that oozes history. Henry VIII courted Jane Seymour here, the D-Day landings were planned within the house and Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall partied here too. It’s also home to England’s last remaining Cromwellian Chapel in a private house. Now it’s a hotel, with the title of the third most haunted building in England.
GHOST HUNT: Woof! One of the most common ghost sightings is of a large black dog that sits on the Jerusalem staircase. Apparently it looks so real, it’s not until you attempt to pet it and you hand passes through, that you realise it’s a ghost. There are also many stories associated with 16th century midwife Mother Barnes. Her shadowy figure has been seen walking on the lawn and sitting in the corner of one of the bedrooms, rocking an infant in her harms. That particular hotel room experiences more paranormal activity than any other.
Donnington Castle, Newbury
WHERE: Donnington Castle, on fringe of Newbury, is now a ruin. It dates back to 1386 when it was built by Sir Richard Abberbury the Elder and was more or less destroyed during the English Civil War. It’s a popular spot for walks and yet many are probably blissfully unaware it’s one of the most haunted places in Berkshire.
GHOST HUNT: Attention! The most frequent visitors from the dark side is a guard who can be found standing at the gatehouse. Many visitors have taken him for a guide in period costume until he pulls his vanishes into thin air! There have also been reports of the apparition of a white dog running from the castle towards the woods only to disappear before reaching the tree line! Unsurprisingly, there have been many ghostly sightings of English Civil War soldiers. A group of campers claim to have seen a man dressed as a Royalist soldier assaulting a young woman. They ran over to pull him off of her, only for both figures to vanish.
Shaw House, Newbury
WHERE: This stunning Elizabethan Manor was built by Thomas Dolman in 1581 having made his fortune in the cloth industry and had many royal visitors – including Queen Anne and King Charles I. Today it’s the registrar’s office, a place for community events and, by all accounts, a lot of paranormal activity.
GHOST HUNT: Mysterious balls of blue light and a Grey Lady have been seen in the upper rooms. The screams of a former house maid are also said to echo from a tunnel, which reportedly runs between Shaw House to Donnington Castle. She was killed when the tunnel collapsed. The sound of marching has been heard inside the building, and visitors also claim to feeling watched when they have been alone inside.
The George Hotel, Pangbourne
WHERE: Slap bang in the middle of Pangbourne village is The George Hotel. It dates back to the 12th century, but if you book a room you get more than you bargained for as it is considered one of the most haunted places in the county, thanks to a witch named Betty.
GHOST HUNT: According to local legend, Betty Price used the coaching inn as a hiding place. She died while hiding out in the cellar, but it’s said she placed a curse upon the innkeeper and every person who had a hand in capturing her. She is still seen wandering the corridors in search of those captors so that she can exact her revenge!
The Spice Lounge @ Three Legged Cross, Warfield
WHERE: This 500-year-old pub has had a colourful history. Previously known as The New Inn it was the meeting place for the pony club. In the mid-1900s it was taken over by a former Yugoslav spy who restored it to a community pub. Now it’s an Indian restaurant, but your meal could come with more spice than you’d like.
GHOST HUNT: It is said that a Romany Gypsy lady cursed the pub after being banned more than 100 years ago! Soon after, the landlord fell ill unexpectedly and passed away. It is said that the woman’s spirit is still wandering around the outside of the Three Legged Cross cursing the landlord.
WHERE: This one is super creepy. Although now a new-build estate for the over-55s, the land under ‘Cliveden Village’ used to be where the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital was based.
GHOST HUNT: Not only was it where many maimed Canadian servicemen met their end after being brought back from the First World War trenches, it’s also where ‘The Flincher’ – a winged black beast – is said to have terrorised trespassers of the abandoned, rot-lined corridors, once the hospital was left to the elements in the late-Eighties. For the sake of the retirees, let’s hope The Flincher disappeared along with the original building. Walk the surrounding woods (if you dare…)