As the nights get darker and Halloween waits for us just around the corner, here at Food & Drink Guides, we thought now was the perfect time to celebrate the spookiest season with a blog post dedicated to our favourite haunted venues that have featured in our regional guides over the years.
Whether you’re planning to drench yourself in fake blood and join the other zombies at a booze-fuelled Halloween party, carve scary pumpkins with the kids, conjure spirits on the ouija board, or just cosy up on the couch, cocooned in a blanket with a pumpkin spice latte warming your hands while Bette Midler’s Winnie Sanderson sings “I Put a Spell on You” on the television, Halloween is, unfortunately, one of the only times of the year when you can freely let your freak flag fly without getting the side-eye from strangers. So why not drag out the witching hour into a witching week and plan a trip to one of the UK’s 13 most haunted locations where you can dig into delicious seasonal dishes alongside ghosty dining companions?
Berrycoombe Road, Bodmin, PL31 2NR
An historical former prison originally built for King George III in 1779, it’s no wonder ghosts are said to haunt the walls of Bodmin Jail what with its gruesome and gory history. Whether you’re taking a daring dive down deep into the depths of the jail’s six levels, taking in the creepy exhibitions which tell the terrifying last tales of the many offenders that were once imprisoned within these walls, or visiting the Execution Shed, a fully restored 4.5m-deep, Victorian hanging pit which is the only one of its kind in the UK and the site of the last man executed in Cornwall, if ghosts are real, this is where you’d find them.
If dining with other-dimensional companions sounds like more of a treat than a trick, then you’ll be right at home in the venue’s popular Governors Hall Restaurant. With its high-vaulted gothic ceiling, leaded windows, period features and striking carved wood panelling, the restaurant boasts an atmosphere unlike any other dining venue in Cornwall.
Fore Street, Winkleigh, EX19 8HQ
Home to all the traditional comforts you’d expect to find from your favourite watering hole, as well as two resident ghosts George and Cecilia, whether you’re searching for a cosy spot in which to unwind with a pint of local ale, warm your soul with some hearty pub grub on a cold autumn’s day, or see if you can befriend the pub’s tricksy spirits, The Kings Arms extends a friendly, albeit somewhat spooky welcome to locals and visitors alike.
With a reputation for snatching plates away from waiting staff and taking offence if things aren’t kept just so, George and Cecilia are keen to remind staff and customers alike of their presence. It is said that George the ghost doesn’t like change in what must have been his former business or local and will show his displeasure by dropping bottles and crockery in slow motion, whereas Cecelia is more mischievous and likes to hang on the aprons of waiting staff and knock over pots and pans to gain their attention.
Bleeding Heart Yard, Hatton Garden, EC1N 8SJ
Taking its name from the yard where it is located, which was named after a 17th-century beauty, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who was found murdered there, fans of true crime stories, romance, and modern French cuisine will find dining at The Bleeding Heart Restaurant a truly to-die-for experience. Named the most romantic restaurant in the city by The Times, should you dine at the restaurant, expect to begin with the likes of soupe de legumes du jour or the ballotine of foie gras with grain mustard remoulade and mash salad, followed by an assiette of suckling pig and crackling with apricot and sage faggots, pommes fondants, and Bramley apple sauce. The raspberry macaron heart with raspberry ice cream or the dark chocolate delice with pistachio will round off your meal in style.
The enchanting and medieval Crypt in Ely Place, adjoining Bleeding Heart Yard, makes for a truly spooky and atmospheric setting for an unforgettable private event for 50 to 120 guests. Set in the 600-year-old crypt at St Etheldreda’s, the venue has been hosting celebrity parties in the heart of the city ever since Henry VIII held his three-day wedding feast there in 1531.
Bonnyrigg, Nr. Edinburgh, EH19 3JB
Sitting majestically amidst nine acres of wooded parkland and boasting over 700 years of history, there’s no wonder Dalhousie Castle, which was once the seat of the Ramsey Clan, is a popular spot for ghostly sightings. Not only have illustrious figures such as Edward I, Sir Walter Scott, Oliver Cromwell, and Queen Victoria been guests at the castle over the years, but allegedly, so have a many number of ghosts. One popular sighting is that of the “Grey Lady”, Lady Catherine, a mistress of one of the Ramsey lairds, who was locked up in one of the castle turrets and left to perish by his jealous wife over 500 years ago.
The castle boasts two restaurants that offer two very contrasting styles of dining. The Orangery serves everything from breakfast, brunch, and lunch to afternoon tea and dinner, whereas the two-AA-rosette-awarded, fine-dining, and spooky Dungeon Restaurant, set in the venue’s ancient barrel-vaulted dungeons, provides a more formal affair.
Bolventor, Launceston, PL15 7TS
Immortalised by author Daphne du Maurier in her murder mystery novel of the same name, Cornwall’s most famous smugglers inn has welcomed weary travellers for nearly 300 years and is just brimming with inspiring legends, fascinating mysteries, and stories of romance. According to folklore, the venue is even home to the occasional friendly spirit – and with over 30 places to stay the night, there really is no reason for them to leave.
Whether you’re staying in one of the inn’s 36 ensuite bedrooms, enjoying a feast fit for a pirate king in the award-winning restaurant, or visiting the Smugglers’ Museum to discover tales of wreckers, murderers and villains, you won’t find a place with more character or beauty. Perched high up on the wild and romantic Bodmin Moor, the menu centres around wholesome, fresh and tasty English food beginning with hearty breakfasts, followed by lunch, light bites, doorstep sandwiches, summer salads, delicious evening meals and mouth-watering desserts. The setting also provides the perfect backdrop for monthly murder mystery evenings, and if you’re brave enough, there are even monthly ghost hunt nights too.
91 High Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1BQ
Rumoured to be the most haunted pub in Britain, when we visited the beautifully preserved Castle Inn in the heart of Newport, Isle of Wight, we were greeted warmly by Simon, one of the landlords, who enthusiastically talked us through the spooky history of the pub, including tales of the ghost who frequently leaves five pence pieces around the place.
The oldest public house in Newport dating back to 1550, this listed building is etched into the history and character of the Isle of Wight. Rebuilt after a tragic fire in 1684, The Castle Inn’s bricks were imported in from France and still stands proudly today, close to 350 years later – providing a safe and secure refuge for locals, tourists, and tortured souls alike. One such ghost is said to be an ostler or stable boy who hung himself here in the 1600s and can sometimes be heard whistling around the pub.
82 Bramfield Road, Bulls Green, Datchworth, Hertfordshire, SG3 6RZ
The oldest pub in the village of Bulls Green in Datchworth, Hertfordshire, The Horns dates back to, at least, the time of Henry VIII, with timber-framed walls, Tudor beams, open fires, vaulted ceilings and uneven floors which tell a rich and fascinating historic tale. The ghost of the highwayman Walter Cibbons, who was killed by villagers in the 18th century, is even thought to still dine here, so if you see piles of undigested food on the pub’s floors, don’t blame clumsy waiters – blame Walter Cibbons’ ineffective digestive system.
We’re not surprised that, years after his own death, Walter Cibbons would still make the difficult journey back from the spirit realm to attempt to savour the superb food on offer at The Horns. Boasting a menu that’s based on fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, as well as offering daily specials and a traditional Sunday lunch, when we visited the pub we enjoyed a starter of whitebait, deep fried and served with lemon, a main of lamb shank with traditional mash, carrots, and vibrantly coloured shredded cabbage, and finished with a cheeseboard, featuring splendidly ripe Brie, goat’s cheese, Cropwell Bishop Stilton and nicely mature Cheddar with crackers.
Binfield, Bracknell, RG42 5PH
Once named The Catherine Wheel after the torturous device used for executions in the Middle Ages, and now deriving its name from a legendary character from a 16th-century book, the Jack O’Newbury in Bracknell, Berkshire is well known for its ghostly manifestations.
Order a pint of real ale or lager from the bar for instance and you might encounter the phantom that likes to pull on peoples’ hair when they are standing there. The bar team even managed to capture one particular ghost on CCTV, where two glasses flew off a shelf as manager Summer Lancaster walked past. Since this supernatural occurrence was captured and became quite the news story (even being featured on This Morning), paranormal investigators have been staying late at the pub, setting up equipment said to detect unearthly presences. The investigators have since managed to capture strange, misty images and have even managed to record temperatures that have inexplicably plummeted at times.
If you remain unconvinced, this quintessentially British pub, with its lush garden, welcoming atmosphere, traditionally setting, and roaring fire is well worth the visit even if you don’t consider yourself the newest member of the Ghostbusters.
Molesworth Street, Wadebridge, PL27 7DP
The oldest, and, the local’s say, the finest watering hotel in Wadebridge in Cornwall, The Molesworth Arms is the perfect spot for exploring Bodmin Moor, following the Camel Trail or taking on two of the great Atlantic links courses, St Enodoc and Trevose. Come New Year’s Eve, it’s also the perfect spot for a ghost sighting.
A classic and characterful townhouse hotel which provides a comfortable and approachable backdrop for some very high-quality dining, visit on the night before the new year and you might get lucky enough (or unlucky enough if ghosts aren’t your thing) to be visited by the ghost of a coachman. On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, a coach is said to be driven into the courtyard of the hotel by a headless coachman, welcoming in the new year in the spookiest of fashions.
Boasting a menu that changes seasonally and makes great use of the bounty found on its doorstep, expect to find the likes of tasty fish stews, opulent homemade desserts, wood-fired pizzas, and old-fashioned favourites cooked to perfection from scratch with care.
85 High Street, Crawley, RH10 1BA
With tales of hangings, ghosts, and a haunted function room, Brewery Shades, which has proudly stood on (creepy) Crawley’s High Street since the 15th century, has a ghoulish reputation which precedes it. Used as a gaol 500 years ago, it’s no wonder tortured spirits call this traditional pub home, but despite its gruesome history, this timber-framed Grade II listed building is quite spectacular and is a real hit with tourists, locals, and ghosts alike.
The food at Brewery Shades is so terribly good in fact that it would be a crime not to while away some time here sampling the highlights of the extensive menu. Unwind on one of the cosy leather sofas and warm up next to one of the pub’s two open fires while you dig into fresh pub classics such as steaks, sausages, burgers, fish and chips, and fantastic sandwiches. A clear favourite is the Macho Roast Trilogy sandwich, which comprises thick slices of home-cooked British beef, pork loin, chicken and rustic stuffing, served on brown or white farmhouse bread with roast potatoes and gravy for dipping.
Church Lane, Bardsey, Leeds, LS17 9DR
Officially the oldest pub in England, dating all the way back to 953AD when Vikings were conquering the country, Bingley Arms was once a rest stop for monks and priests – you can even still see the priest holes where Catholic ministers hid during the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Understandably, due to its truly fascinating and far-reaching history, the pub is even rumoured to have a couple of resident ghosts.
Situated just outside of Leeds in the village of Bardsey, if the Bingley Arms’ fascinating history isn’t enough to encourage you to visit, the exquisite food is sure to do the trick. Made using locally sourced ingredients, each dish on the menu is expertly prepared by a dedicated team of chefs who are focused on creating hearty, traditional pub food. For those exploring the nearby stately homes, museums, or beautiful countryside, Bingley Arms offers the perfect place to pause and enjoy a light bite.
As its name suggests, this charming pub was a manor house until the turn of the century, with parts of it dating all the way back until the 1600s. Run by husband-and-wife team Stuart and Julie Gray, The Manor House, situated in the characterful village of Fillongley in Warwickshire, is a popular haunt with locals and visitors to the area alike – not to mention the pub’s resident ghosts – said to be the property’s 1911 inhabitants. Owner Stuart says: ‘I’ve not seen them myself, and I don’t expect to – but I’ve certainly seen plenty of spirits behind the bar’.
Those embarking on the nearby circular six-mile walk will be glad to retire to the cosy surroundings of the Manor House to enjoy some hearty, home-cooked traditional fare washed down with a pint of well-kept ale. Visit on a Sunday for the ever-popular Sunday roast or during the summer, when the garden is filled with local families and groups of friends enjoying the sunshine – there’s even a play area for the little ones. The pub even hosts a day-long music event every summer.
Hangleton Valley Drive, Hove, BN3 8AN
The oldest domestic secular building in Brighton and Hove, Hangleton Manor is just steeped in history, boasting an original dovecote in the extensive garden, beautiful carved intricacies on the dining room’s ceiling, wood panelling enhanced by atmospheric candlelight indoors, along with pictures on the walls telling tales of this traditional manor’s haunted history. So many people have reported to have seen ghosts in the manor in fact that a medium even visits once a week for those wishing to explore the realms beyond.
Come for the friendly ghosts but stay for the menu, offering a wide range of scrumptious dishes including individual steak, specials, and a tempting choice of brilliant burgers. When we visited Hangleton Manor, every dish we sampled was cooked to perfection. Our steak was seared exactly as requested and our lamb medaliions were tender and juicy, accompanied by perfectly crunchy and fluffy triple-cooked chips. The divine chocolate and coconut torte and the Salcombe dairy ice cream provided the perfect finish to a frighteningly good feast. Not even the ghosts could keep us away from Hangleton Manor.