From haunted houses, royal ghosts, headless horsemen and tragic railway children, Gloucestershire is home to some terrifying ghost stories.
Some of Gloucestershire’s spookiest locations have made it onto SoGlos’s harrowing hot list. Visit all 20, if you dare…
Berkeley Castle witnessed what has to be one of the most horrific royal deaths in English history – when, following months of imprisonment in the castle dungeons, the deposed King Edward II was ordered to death by Queen Isabella. A red-hot poker is thought to be the murder weapon.
On the anniversary of his death, it’s said that King Edward II’s agonising screams can be heard throughout the castle near Stroud, with the room in which this gruesome royal murder was carried out now open to the public.
Prestbury is reportedly one of the most haunted villages in the UK, with the Black Abbot being Prestbury’s most notorious ghost. Tales tell of how he used to walk the aisles of St. Mary’s Church, but since it was exorcised, he is now said to be restricted to roam the churchyard.
Prestbury is also said to be home to the Charging Horseman, who appears riding his white horse at Easter and Christmas and was rumoured to have been killed by a Lancastrian arrow during the War of the Roses.
Woodchester Mansion near Stroud
Woodchester Mansion, a Victorian gothic mansion house in Woodchester village near Stroud, has been unfinished since the builders downed tools and left, never to return. With its own chapel that has a butchery room next door and a resident population of bats, it looks like it could be the setting for any thriller, and is reportedly home to an impressive number of ghosts and ghouls.
Sightings include a phantom horseman, an aggressive female and a floating head. Visitors have ‘collapsed in fear’ and been ‘attacked’ by these ghouls, so the mansion’s overnight ghost hunt is not for the faint-hearted.
Pittville in Cheltenham
Famed for its Regency heritage, Pittville in Cheltenham also has a spooky history as the location of the renowned haunting, ‘The Morton Case’. The first major investigation by the Society of Paranormal Research and one of the most detailed of the late 19th century, the haunting involved a figure adorned in typical Victorian mourning attire.
The woman’s figure was reportedly seen by numerous people in the Pittville area of Cheltenham from the 1880s, with modern-day ghost hunters able to learn more about The Morton Case on ghost tours.
The Ancient Ram in Wotton-under-Edge
Said to be the home of two demons and a ghostly witch, The Ancient Ram in Wotton-under-Edge has been dubbed one of the most haunted pubs in the UK and is said to have witnessed black magic rituals, child sacrifices and was even the hideout of a highwayman.
Owner John Humphries shares this spooky house with the ghosts and opens the doors to ghost hunters and enthusiasts, including TV’s Most Haunted crew, who said they had ‘never been to a scarier place.’
St. Briavels Castle in the Forest of Dean
St. Briavels Castle in the Forest of Dean witnessed many a murder during its heyday in the 12th century, and it is thought that many tormented souls never left – which is why it has been dubbed ‘the most haunted castle in England’ and has become a magnet for ghost hunters.
Paranormal investigation nights at the castle are said to have witnessed the pitiful cries of an unseen baby, invisible hands tugging at clothes and the sensation of someone gripping at a visitor’s throat. It’s no wonder that some guests have left in the dead of night!
Tudor House Hotel in Tewkesbury
This black-and-white-timbered hotel in Tewkesbury is steeped in history – and offers 25 en-suite rooms. However, some guests stay a bit longer than others, almost 500 years in fact…
Local legend has it that a maid, treated unkindly by her mistress, jumped from a window and killed herself and is now known as the grey lady, forever wandering the corridors. Other sightings include the ghostly apparition of a black labrador and the small drummer boy, who has woken many guests with the sound of his kettle drum.
The Old Bell in Gloucester
This 17th century building in Gloucester was once used as a local assize court house that dished out the death penalty more than once – and the pub is now thought to be haunted by several innocent men who were unjustly sent to the gallows.
Local ghost expert, Lyn Cinderey, visits The Old Bell on her popular ghost walks, tours and overnight paranormal investigations around the city of Gloucester.
The Ragged Cot Inn in Minchinhampton
The Ragged Cot Inn in Minchinhampton has a dark and morbid history. Diz White writes about the tale of ex-landlord, Bill Clavers, in his book, Haunted Cotswolds, who attempted to drunkenly rob a midnight stagecoach. 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.
Bill was led away by the police as a doomed man, but the ghostly apparitions of his wife and child have been spotted, forever waiting at the foot of the stairs.
Café Rene in Gloucester
Known for its live music and good food, revellers flock to Café Rene – even some of the dead ones…
The historic building’s basement used to connect underground to the St. Mary de Crypt Church and several people have reported seeing shadowy figures and hearing monks chant from underneath the floorboards. The landlord even felt an invisible hand on him one night!
Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe
This impressive 15th century castle in Winchcombe is rich in royal heritage – playing home to Queen Katherine Parr and Lady Jane Grey as well as being visited by Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I and Charles I.
However, its most famous ghost is not a royal, but a former housekeeper known as Janet, who was so devoted to the castle that even death could not tear her away!
Snowshill Manor near Broadway
Snowshill Manor near Broadway dates back to 1490 and is home to a number of ghostly figures – as well as an extraordinary and eccentric museum collection of more than 22,000 items.
Owned by the National Trust, day-trippers enjoy looking at the displays. However, one permanent resident is not so keen – with some visitors having said that a scowling monk haunts the manor, unhappy that tourists are tarnishing the religious connection that the house has lost.
Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester
Built in 1239, Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester is one of the oldest surviving medieval Dominican priories in Britain. And in the last 10 years, restoration work has been carried out, uncovering a dungeon.
It is thought that this discovery is linked to the appearance of a dark ghost monk, who hovers near the dungeon – with tours taking place at Blackfriars for people who want a unique ghost hunting experience.
Chavenage House near Tetbury
Chavenage House near Tetbury is home to the legend of Colonel Nathaniel Stephens. The legend writes that the moment Nathaniel died, a spectral black coach driven by a headless coachman drew up at the entrance, the coach door opened and the ghost of Nathaniel climbed aboard and was driven away.
It is said that every owner who has since lived at Chavenage has witnessed ghostly happenings and experienced ice-cold chills.
Ye Old Black Bear in Tewkesbury
During the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, many vanquished soldiers are said to have sought solace at Ye Olde Black Bear.
Legend has it that one decapitated soldier fled to the inn with his comrades, not realising he was dead, and has stayed there ever since, rattling his chains in true ghostly fashion.
To many locals, Littledean Hall is simply known as ‘the haunted house’ – with a number of poltergeist incidents reported and the Blue Bedroom considered ‘too haunted’ to sleep in.
In 1997, Randolph Liebeck, a renowned American paranormal investigator, explored its ghostly confines and dubbed it ‘the most haunted house in England’.
Charfield Graveyard near Wotton-under-Edge
At 5.30am on 13 October 1928, a Leeds to Bristol train crashed in Charfield, tragically killing 15 people. Two small bodies have remained unidentified and are buried in the graveyard with ‘two unknown’ inscribed on the gravestones.
A sad tale that has been passed down the generations is that a strange woman dressed in black visited the graves of the two unknown children late into the 1950s, when it is thought that she also died. And now, two lonely and lost ghostly railway children, walking hand-in-hand have been spotted hovering near the site of the crash.
The Dick Whittington in Gloucester
The Dick Whittington, a 15th century merchant’s house in Gloucester, has a fascinating history. Originally built for Richard Whittington, nephew of the legendary Dick Whittington, the pub is now frequented by paranormal investigators after a hunched figure kept reappearing.
This strange man was reportedly seen walking around in the cellar and has caused workmen to flee the building. Lights have also been seen floating over the bar, while furniture eerily moves itself around the building.
HM Prison Gloucester
Before it was decommissioned in 2013, a ghost, thought to have been a female prisoner who was held in the cells of a nearby abbey, was said to have appeared before HMP Gloucester’s more modern inmates – mocking and taunting them.
She was said to have been searching for an inmate that killed her, returning to the prison every night in her quest for revenge – with ghostly activity particularly strong in cell 25 on the A3 landing.
Tweenbrook Avenue in Gloucester
The Gloucester residential street of Tweenbrook Avenue could hardly pass for the setting of a horror movie, but families are reported to have been ‘driven out’ by paranormal forces.
Tales include that of a six-year-old boy found by an open window that had been previously nailed shut, claiming that a mysterious lady wanted him to go with her. While another incident on the street was reported by a resident who saw a ghostly woman in an attic asking them to pray for her.