With Halloween season well and truly upon us, what better time to take a tour of the beautiful county of Somerset that we call home. Steeped in history, its little wonder Somerset is full of tragic tales, spooky spiels, and apparitional anecdotes. If you love the thrill of all things paranormal and looking for your next haunted haunt to visit, here are thirteen of the most eerie locations in Somerset to explore – if you dare.
The George and Pilgrims’, Glastonbury
Glastonbury is said to be the occult capital of England, and the George and Pilgrim hotel, is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. Built in the 17th century, near Glastonbury abbey, the hotel contains narrow corridors, low oak beams, winding stone stairways and hides a network of secret passageways. Guests have reported hearing creaking floorboards in the early hours of the morning, and sightings of a spectral monk wandering the dark corridors, with an elegant lady diligently following on, pining for his affection. Purportedly the two fell in love, but because of the monk’s vow of celibacy their love remained unconsummated, the frustration of which left their souls wandering the passages of the hotel forevermore.
The Journey from Nunney to Frome
This 3-mile stretch of road linking the village of Nunney to the market town of Frome has been rife with stories of the paranormal over the years. The most daunting of which is the tale of the phantom hitchhiker, said to be wearing a checked, flannel shirt and standing in the middle of the road trying to catch a ride. Those who have offered him a lift say he repeatedly speaks about how cold he is and then just vanishes. Even more creepily, others have reported him suddenly appearing in the back of their car as they drive along. No one knows much about him but believe he was man that was knocked off his bicycle in the 1970’s, and with his last dying breath, cursed all motorists - and it seems he has kept to his word ever since.
Shepton Mallet Prison
I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to many of you that an abandoned prison is a hotspot for ghostly encounters. Over the years Shepton Mallet prison has housed some of the most infamous criminal’s history has to offer and performed gruesome executions on many of them, with their remains now lying in the grounds in unmarked graves. So, it’s no wonder that ghost hunters from across the land visit to try and get a sighting of what now lurks between those stone walls.
The reported spectres from the spirit world range from the ghost of the White Lady, who is chronicled to be a woman who was wrongly convicted of murdering her fiancé and sentenced to death, and the apparition of an American soldier who was accidentally killed by firing squad after a stray bullet ricocheted off a wall and killed him, with guests and staff alike noting sightings of them around the prison. These sightings, combined with other unexplained occurrences such as one member of staff feeling a phantom cigarette being burned into his hand, and a recited feeling of someone watching you, leads to the eerie atmosphere of paranormal paradigms that encompasses the now deserted prison.
If you’ve ever visited the town of Taunton, chances are you’ve noticed Taunton castle, but did you happen to come across the ghost of ‘the Hanging Judge’? Dating back to the 12th century, the castle walls have witnessed many eerie events throughout the years, the most notable being the aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion. in 1685 the illegitimate son of King Charles XI planned the Rebellion to over-throw the current royal as he believed he was the rightful heir to the throne (it all sounds very GoT). However, he was captured, and 1300 of his supporters were sent to the great hall of Taunton castle for their fates to be decided by ‘The Hanging Judge’ himself, Justice Jeffreys, who was known for his harsh punishments. Many were sentenced to death for high treason by Justice Jeffreys, and ever since visitors have reported witnessing the judge stomping up and down the corridors of the castle trying to terrify tourists.
The Monmouth rebellion obviously didn’t leave many people to rest in peace, as again we revisit that period of history, but this time at Sedgemoor Battlefield in Westonzoyland where the final confrontation of the rebellion took place. Now all that stands is the memorial stone for the approximated 1500 people who lost their lives that day. If the idea of walking through an old battlefield doesn’t send shivers down your spine, then the tales of those left behind definitely will. Local farmers have accounted seeing the shadows of men on horses galloping through the field, Shouting military orders. However, the most haunting story is one of a young girl who drowned herself after having to watch on as her love was unfairly executed, after desperately trying to outrun the enemy troops. The locals say they see her apparition returning to the battlefield year after year in search of her lost love.
The Choughs Hotel, Chard
Thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain, this 17th century hotel hides a network of secret passageways and hidden rooms that are home to plethora of paranormal oddities. Set in one of the stone walls of the hotel lies an ancient gravestone, with a word etched into its tomb-like structure. Many guests over the years have attempted to take a photo of this Instagram worthy bit of architecture, but have failed to capture it, resulting in blurry images, equipment failures, or even photos of nothing at all. It is said the cause of this is down to the ghost of a sinister-looking old man who does not allow photos. This poltergeist is presumed to be our old friend Judge Jeffreys, who was once a resident of the hotel - his coat of arms can still be seen on a wall of one of the rooms today.
Unexplained sounds of a woman laughing, a man arguing in whispered tones, slamming noises, coughing and sights of objects moving of their own accord are common occurrences in this haunted hotel. It is chronicled that many of these ghastly going-on’s may be caused by the souls of those who have taken their own lives in the hotel. The first is the tragic tale of a young girl who decided to drink poison and end her short life, as she refused to go into prostitution work like her mother and sister. The other is the legend of an old man who hanged himself in the attic, with the apparition of his lifeless corpse still being seen by guests today.
King John’s Hunting Lodge, Axbridge
The name of the town itself immediately makes you think of bloody murder, however the story of the ghostly sightings at King John’s Hunting Lodge are a lot more peaceful than the name would suggest. Built around 1460, the former wool merchant’s house has an abundance of medieval charm and is home to an anonymous apparition of a beautiful Elizabethan lady dressed in a shimmering white dress, with no one knowing who she was or why she chooses to wander this old building. More commonly witnessed is a spectral cat, with many recounting seeing a little fluffy tail dart around the doorway of a panelled room on the first floor of the Lodge. Those that have seen it in its entirety say the phantom feline is a tabby cat – Its black cats that are known for their bad luck, isn’t it?
The Plough Inn, Holford
The Plough Inn is most famously known for being the haunting honeymoon destination of Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1912. The couple returned a year later following one of Virginia’s bad spells of mental health, where she insisted, she could hear people laughing at her and refused to eat. However, the native Holfordian’s favourite fable, is that of the travelling Spanish merchant who arrived at the inn on a dark night in the 16th century and got chatting to a group of locals. He was dressed in fine clothing, and they were convinced he must be carrying a stash of gold. After stumbling drunkenly up to his room, the locals quietly followed him and after they were confident he was in bed, strangled him where he slept. After a thorough search they could not find any of the presumed gold - it is thought the spaniard hid it before he got into bed. The Spanish spectre of the murdered merchant now takes the form of a dark cloaked figure walking up the stone staircase leading to his room. After previous owners removed the staircase, his footsteps can still be heard leading up to the room, presumably to check his gold remains safely hidden.
The iconic Glastonbury Tor, renowned for its links to historic legends, spiritual celebrations, and religious folklore, is believed to be the place where the veil between this world and other hidden realms are at its thinnest. Legend has it that Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies, and Lord of the Otherworld used the Tor as an entrance to the Underworld. Locals avoided the area scared of the dangers of entering the Fairy Kings, other realm. Anecdotes were rife of people who had visited the Tor, to return thinking only a few hours had passed when they had in actual fact been missing for years. To conquer these beliefs A Monk name St Collen went to meet with Gwyn ap Nudd. The Monk threw holy water at the King, whereupon the Lord of the Otherworld and his army vanished. However, since then the Fairies have allegedly been seeking their revenge, by repeatedly destroying the Church next to the Tor, once by earthquake. On quiet nights, people have reported hearing the howls of the Kings ghost hounds still hunting for his lost soul.
The Crown Hotel, Wells
Why do Somerset Hotels always seem to be haunted? Most notably recognised from the film ‘Hot Fuzz’ starring as the ‘Sandford Pub’, the Crown Hotel is still frequented by many in the city, both living and dead. A member of staff witnessed a figure of a tall Victorian man with slicked back black hair and moustache, standing next to the fireplace one evening, staring intensely at him. There have also been sightings of apparitions including an English civil War soldier running down the corridor, a woman clutching a black suitcase who visits each room in turn, and ghostly faces peering out of the hotel’s ground floor windows. More curiously, pyramids of black barely seeds have been found by guests and housekeeping staff on pillows in a number of the rooms. There are no creases on the pillowcases or evidence to suggest someone had leant on the bed to construct them, so how did they get there?
The Priest’s House, Muchelney
Back in the 1300’s this house, opposite the village church, was the home to the parish priest. Featuring large tracery windows, gothic doorways and a vast stone fireplace, the house is the perfect backdrop for a ghostly love story that is told to explain the spooky disturbances which are still heard by tenants today. The mythos centres around the secret marriage of a forbidden love between the priest and a nun. Once married, the nun had to hide away in a private chamber in the house, and one day the priest returned home after being away on parish duty, and found his wife dead in the secret room. Since then strange noises and occurrences have haunted those that now live in the Priest’s house.
Yeovil Railway Station
On a cold dark night, you may not be alone whilst waiting for a train at Yeovil train station. Many have encountered the presence of Molly, a tea-lady who used to work in the buffet carriage who died on the platform in the 1960’s, and simply never left. However, unlike many of the other phantoms on this list, Molly is a somewhat friendly ghost whose escapades include swapping cutlery around and turning electrical points on and off. Apparently if you politely ask her to stop though, she usually will.
Wookey Hole Caves
Wookey’s wonderous landmark caves house human-shaped stalagmite, one of which is found in the first chamber and is known as ‘The Witch of Wookey Hole’. The story goes that the witch lived alone in the caves, after having been jilted by a former lover, and vowed to seek revenge on those in happy relationships. After finding out that A young man from Glastonbury was engaged to a woman from Wookey, the Witch placed a curse on the relationship to ensure that it failed, and alas it did. The man, now a monk, hunted the witch to her cave, situated near one of the underground rivers. The Monk blessed the water and splashed it into a dark corner of the cave where the witch hid. The Monks magic caused her to turn to stone, and she remains in that dark corner of the cave to this day. Her ghostly spirits is said to roam the tunnels of the cave seeking young lovers to haunt.
Hopefully, after reading this list, you’re not too scared to check out our other blog post on Bath’s most haunted haunts.