Dorset is a perfectly spooky place for those looking for things that go bump in the night in England’s south-west. CHRISTINE MILLER takes a look at 13 of Dorset’s most haunted places that you can visit.
Ye Old George Inn, 2A Castle Street, Christchurch, BH23 1DT
The Ye Old George Inn is a coaching inn dating all the way back to the 14th century, and one gruesome story attached to the building is that of Margaret Moore, daughter of the then landlord. Margaret fell in love with a Royalist soldier named Rupert, and it wasn’t long until she was with child. So furious was her Parliamentary supporting father Henry, at this news that when the child was born he bricked the baby boy and his mother up in the pantry in the inn – inevitably mother and son perished due to starvation.
It is said that, particularly in the middle of the night, the sound of Margaret’s desperate attempts to free herself and her baby can be heard as she claws at the bricks. The ghost of her son has also been heard crying.
Many years ago during renovation, a priest hole was found and its contents included an old-fashioned shirt which was torn, a pair of shoes and a pile of bones. It is unclear who these belong to.
Staff at the inn have witnessed some unusual paranormal activity, such as pictures coming off the wall with no explanation, plates turning slowly of their own accord, and wine bottles disappearing!
Thirsty ghost, perhaps?
Athelhampton House, Puddletown, Dorchester, DT2 7LG
Said to be one of the most haunted homes in all of England, the 15th century Althelhampton House boasts more than its fair share of ghosts, having at least 11 residence spooks!
A duel between two male spirits is said to play out on occasion in the Great Hall. Because of the attire the duo wear, it is believed that they may have been CIvil War soldiers. The dual comes to an end when one of the men stabs the other, and they both simply disappear.
Perhaps most strangely of all, the ghost of a monkey is said to haunt the home. The story goes that the chimpanzee was a beloved pet of the resident family, and it was accidentally bricked up alive in the Great Chamber. It is its ghost that is believed to be responsible for the tapping noises that come from the wall where he was entombed. Most chillingly of all perhaps, the chimp has been seen watching visitors to the Chamber, and it has also been spotted sprinting throughout the house.
Bettiscombe Manor, Bettiscombe, Dorset DT6 5NU
Bettiscombe Manor is the site of a rather strange tale – one involving a servant’s screaming skull. It was the wish of one dying servant to the manor to be buried within the grounds, but they were instead interred in a nearby graveyard, which upset the spirit greatly. Nothing but bad luck and ill fortune plagued the house until the body was exhumed and brought to be buried in the Manor, so goes the story.
There is no plan to move the body, because legend states that if the remains are ever placed away from the manor, the servant’s skull will fill the house and surroundings with a bloodcurdling scream and they who are to blame for the removal will die within one year of the scream sounding.
One brave owner however is said to have chucked the skull into a nearby pond once however, but regretted his decision as, two days later he returned it to the house having been kept awake by ghostly noises in the dead of night.
Better to be safe than sorry then!
Northe Fort, Barrack Road, Weymouth, DT4 8UF
Known to be one of the most haunted sites in Dorset and the south coast, Northe Fort boasts the whistling ghost of a gunner who has been heard numerous times by staff and visitors alike in the eerie passageways underground.
Other reports suggest that a white figure often frequents the parapets when it is locked, with no possibility of this being a living person. With this in mind, it is of little surprise to learn that there are certain areas of the fort that staff refuse to visit on their own.
Corfe Castle, The Square, Dorset, BH20 5EZ
Corfe Castle’s most famous ghost is that of a headless woman who has been seen waking the battlements of the castle. She has been known to approach petrified visitors, only to then turn away and disappear.
Lights have been witnessed dancing throughout the ruins, particularly on the castle ramparts in the dark of night and there are reports of a phantom wailing child being heard. The scary figure of a man in a long hooded black cloak also wanders throughout the building.
Lulworth Castle, East Lulworth, Wareham, BH20 5QS
There was a devastating fire in 1929 at Lulworth Manor in Dorset, and as firefighters attempted to put out they witnessed a woman screaming from one of the top floors. As they tried to rescue her, they soon noticed that the floor which she should have been standing on had collapsed hours earlier. They had witnessed the ghost of the Grey Lady who has been haunting the castle for centuries.
The castle was fully restored in 1998 and has proved to be a popular visitor attraction. However, some visitors have reported feeling nauseous, tearful, anxious and depressed particularly in the kitchen area of the building, but the reason behind this is unclear.
Shaftesbury Abbey, Park Walk, Shaftesbury, SP7 8JR
A spectral monk is said to walk this Saxon abbey’s ruins in Shaftesbury. It is said this monk was solely responsible for the abbey’s treasure, and the only one who knew its precise location. However, he died without ever passing on information as to its whereabouts, and now in death is unable to rest in case the treasure is uncovered.
Also, the ghost of King Edward the Martyr is said to run through the ruins in the dead of night during certain times of the year, but the reason for his appearance remains unknown.
Crown Hotel, 23 Market Street, Poole, BH15 1NB
The Crown Hotel has quite the gruesome past. It is said that in the 17th century the then landlord locked his two deformed young children away, chaining them up in the old stable block part of the building. Later on, he decided to rid himself of them altogether and so he murdered them. It is claimed they were buried under the flooring of the building’s larder.
Their desperate, scared cries and screams have been heard on many occasions but they have also been witnessed happily playing in the courtyard.
A young girl in a white nightdress has been seen leaning rather precariously over an upstairs bannister before disappearing.
In one particular bedroom, the door has been witnessed shaking violently. Once, it was reported that a guest staying in this room was petrified as he observed the door handle slowly turn and the door swing open, only for there to be no one there. He suddenly felt an icy cold chill, and a blue light formed, floating around the room momentarily before passing into the wall where it proceeded to disappear through a wall.
Another story goes that one terrified guest of the Crown Hotel had to be calmed with a stiff drink after he claimed that the gentleman he was talking to in the customer toilets had simply disappeared right in front of him.
Knowlton Church and Henge, Knowlton, Wimborne, BH21 5AE
There are a few ghosts attached to Knowlton Church and Henge.
A ghostly horseman is said to gallop across the Henge site in the middle of the night and actually passes straight through the church ruins.
There has also been reports of a spooky face that peers out at visitors from the top window of the church tower.
A sobbing phantom woman (who some believe might be a nun) has been witnessed kneeling just outside of the church, but it is not known who exactly she is.
Portland Castle, Liberty Road, Castletown, Portland, DT5 1AZ
Portland Castle was built in Dorset by King Henry VII in the 1540s to protect against invasion. It is home to a number of strange stories – many have witnessed spirits of the Tudor army coming towards them, and rather unsettling smells have been reported from the kitchen area which also served as a location for open surgery throughout the duration of the Civil War.
Bournemouth Town Hall, Bourne Avenue, BH2 6EB
Bournemouth’s town hall once served as a military hospital during the First World War. This might explain why witnesses have seen a phantom soldier outside the building, as well as various carriages and horses being witnessed in and around the area.
There is also said to be the ghost of a cat, who stalks through the rooms of the hall.
Sherborne Castle, New Road, Sherborne, DT9 5NR
It is said that every 28th September, the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh is said to present himself near a particular tree which was named after him.
Phantom horses and ghostly children are also said to be seen on occasion and there are also compelling rumours which suggest the castle is in fact cursed!
Sandford Orcas Manor, Sherborne, DT9 4SB
One night many years ago, the owner of Sandford Orcas Manor in Dorset was surprised, but not overly-concerned to witness a ghostly woman in dirty clothing walk straight through the (closed) main gates. The owner is quite used to strange goings on, and this was not the first, or last ghost he would witness at his home.
One of the most commonly seen ghosts is that of a farmer who committed suicide by hanging sometime in the 18th century. This ghostly farmer is in fact responsible for terrifying a BBC production member so much as she came face to face with him during filming that she outright refused to return to the manor to complete the production she was working on.
Chillingly, there is the ghost of a rather violent spectre of a footman who in life used to terrorise the maids of the manor, and it seems his disregard for females has remained even in death.
The owner’s daughter was determined to uncover what the strange tapping was in one room in the manor and so decided to spend the night in the room. All was well as she bedded down for the night, but she wasn’t able to sleep for long, as no sooner was she asleep she was thrown out of the bed and was grabbed around the throat by what she described as a strong, cold, icy hand. Fighting back she was able to run to safety out of the room, and swore never again to set foot in her father’s manor after dark.
Have you seen a ghost in Dorset? Tell us about it in the comments section below!