You could find yourself being taken on a ghost tour by a real ghost if you visit Eltham Palace (pictured above), in Greenwich, south east London, this Halloween.
The 1930s Art Deco mansion, owned by English Heritage, is said to be haunted by a former member of staff who died a week after he retired. A man who looked just like him - and who even had the same accent - once invited a group of visitors for a tour inside Eltham Palace when the site should have been totally empty.
If that story hasn't put you off, this Halloween, Sunday 31 October, English Heritage is running ghostly tours - as well as putting on a spooky craft activity day for kids - at Eltham Palace from 10am to 4pm. Prices for the day are £8.70 for adults, £4.40 for children and £21.80 for family tickets. English Heritage members are free.
Halloween is, of course, the time of year when pretty much every castle, stately home and medieval manor puts on a ghost tour. In my opinion, it is a good time to visit such places - especially for families with kids who are easily bored. And, as usual, English Heritage is putting on some wonderful events at many of its sites - not just at Eltham Palace. Here are some details:
Soldiers who garrisoned at Pendennis Castle during the late 19th and early 20th century are among the restless spirits seen there. Visitors have spotted several soldiers in red tunics and even ghostly horses, thought to have been eaten by desperate soldiers during the Civil War siege. Previous custodians of the castle have been woken by the sound of hooves and another member of staff saw an apparition of a woman haunting the keep. Other spooky sightings include the ghost of Anna, a scullery maid, who fell down the stairs to her death. Recently, fearful screams have been heard from the stairwell - believed to be Anna's final moments. Visitors have also reported seeing strange green lights in the kitchen and the figure of a ghostly woman climbing the stairs.
Haunted events for the whole family are running from Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October, from 10am to 4pm, including three tours each day. Prices: Adults £6/ Concessions £5.10/ Children £3/ Family Ticket £15. English Heritage Members: Free.
There are also haunted tours for adults only from Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 October, at 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Pre-booking is recommended. Call 01326 316 594 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/buytickets. Prices: Adults and Concessions £15. English Heritage Members: Adults and Concessions £12.
Best known as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula,Whitby Abbey has had its own fair share of reports of ghosts and spooky happenings. The Abbey’s founder, St Hild, is said to be sometimes seen in the upper windows of the gothic ruins, while on 6 January – the old Christmas Day – a phantom choir can sometimes be heard within the ruins. There are also stories of a mysterious horse-driven stagecoach being driven over the cliffs by Whitby Abbey. Local legend dictates that the lack of seagulls in the area is because St Hild forbade them from flying over the abbey. The abbey has taken a gothic twist to celebrate the Halloween period, with both day and evening events to choose from.
Days of Victorian Gothic take place from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 October, from noon to 3pm.
Costumed Victorian falconers, with hawks, falcons and owls, will perform displays. A group of performers will be hosting Victorian spooky storytelling sessions in a big top. Visitors will also be able to hear from experts all about the Victorian’s fascination with death and funerals – big send offs were a mark of respectability and played a hugely important role in Victorian society. It is also an industry with which Whitby had close associations, as the town produced much of the black jet used in mourning jewelry.
Prices: Adults £6/ Concessions £5/ Children £4/ Family Ticket £16. English Heritage Members: Free.
Nights of Victorian Gothic take place from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 October, with performances at 5.30pm and 7.30pm
The evening event is the main spectacle, when the castle will be illuminated with dramatic theatre lighting and people will have the opportunity to wander the gothic ruins at night, enjoy Victorian vaudeville shows in the grounds and witness the twice-nightly full Victorian funeral processions, including drumming chief mourner, weepers, black pennant and baton bearers, and a hearse drawn by black horses.
Prices: Adults £9.50/ Concessions £8.50/ Children £7.50. English Heritage Members: Adults £8/ Concessions £7/ Children £6. Combination day and night tickets are also available. In advance: Adult £12.50, Concession £10.50, Child £8.50. On the day: Adult £14.50, Conc £12.50, Child £10.50.
You can buy tickets from the Ticket Sales Team on 0870 333 1183 (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30 Sat 9am – 5pm) or directly from the site during their standard opening hours. Pre-booking tickets for this event is recommended, For more details, visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/.hitby-abbey/
Halloween Family Fun Trail
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk: Take part in a ghostly trail around the castle to find all the spooky secrets. Sat 23 to Sun 31 Oct, 10am - 4pm. Prices: Adults £6/ Concessions £5.30/ Children £3/ Family Ticket £15. English Heritage Members: Free.
1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex: Enjoy two displays from expert handlers Raphael Falconry. Take the opportunity to learn the art of falconry and enjoy a up-close encounter with these magnificent birds of prey. Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 October, 10am - 4pm (Falconry 1pm and 3.30pm). Pre-booking is recommended, call 0870 333 1181 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/buytickets Prices: Adults £8/ Concessions £7/ Children £4.50/ Family Ticket £18.50 English Heritage Members: Free.
Dark Age Dressing Up
Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire: Kids can enjoy Dark Age dressing up with replica costumes including King Arthur's cavalry helmet. Sat 23 to Sun 31 Oct, 11am - 5pm. Prices: Adults £5.30/ Concessions £4.50/ Children 2.70. English Heritage Members: Free.
Time Travellers go Ghosts and Ghouls
Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire: This Halloween you can take part in a trail to find a hidden tomb, make terrifying decorations and explore the grounds of Bolsover Castle with a ghost hunter. Mon 25 to Fri 29 Oct, 10am - 4pm. Prices: Adults £7.40/ Concessions £6.30/ Children £3.70/ Family Ticket £18.50. English Heritage Members: Free - plus £1 for every child over five participating in this event, members and non members.
The Haunted Castle
Dover Castle, Kent: Enjoy a chillingly fun day out as spooky characters lead you around the haunted castle. Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October, 10am - 3pm. Prices: Adults £13.90/ Concessions £11.80/ Children £7/ Family Ticket £34.80. English Heritage Members: Free.
Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight: Wander the spooky battlements of this imposing fortress that was once the prison of Charles I. You can follow an expert guide and hear all about the ghostly goings on that have been witnessed over the years. Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October, 10am - 4pm. Prices: Adults £7/ Concessions £6/ Children £3.50/ Family Ticket £17.50. English Heritage Members: Free.
1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex: Wander the spooky grounds of this ancient battleground and hear the ghostly goings on that have been witnessed over the years. Mon 25 to Sun 31 Oct, 10am - 4pm. Prices: Adults £7/ Concessions £6/ Children £3.50/ Family Ticket £17.50. English Heritage Members: Free.
For more details, visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Please note that you can find details of pagan Samhain events by clicking on the events link at the top of the page and I'll be posting more details of open rituals over the next few days.