Halloween would not be complete without a frightening haunted house, mansion, estate, or castle! The ambiance is all that really matters: if it’s spooky enough to give you a chill and inspire scary ghost stories, it’s a success! Here are some of our favorite fictional haunted houses, what makes them great, and actual places you can visit year-round.
“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”
–Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House”
Some of our favorite haunted houses are merely fictitious and we can snuggle up and read about them under the covers. Other houses around the world are said to be haunted by ghosts and specters, and we love to read about those, too!
Crumbling old facades covered in ivy surrounded by moors, crooked trees, gargoyles on stone ledges, winds that sound like wolves howling in the distance, a dark forest nearby, and, of course, a full moon half covered by hazy clouds all set the scene for a spooky mansion filled with all sorts of haunts and scares.
What makes the perfect haunted house? Have you ever been to a Halloween party in a house that’s been made to look like a spooky old decaying mansion? What were your favorite details? What do you normally think of when telling a scary story? Eerie smoke, drafty rooms, darkness lit only by candlelight, cobwebs, bats, spiders, and even ghosts? There’s usually a graveyard with headstones emblazoned with clever epitaphs (like “Rest in Pieces”), a coffin somewhere (for vampires), a dank cellar, and, of course, a witch’s broom!
Classic Haunted Houses (in Fiction)
“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.” –Bram Stoker, “Dracula”
- The House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” 1839) actually ends up cracking down the middle and disappearing into the earth at the end. It is indeed a supernatural house with creepy twins Roderick and Madeline Usher.
- Hill House (as in “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, 1959) is surrounded by hills and deals extensively with the paranormal. Whoever stays in the house experiences disturbances within their psyche.
- Manderlay (from Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 “Rebecca”) is a gothic English country estate haunted by the aristocratic owner’s deceased wife. This fictional mansion has become so popular that even castles in real life (especially in the UK) have been dubbed “Manderlay.”
- Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania (from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” 1897) is probably one of the most famous spooky settings in all of literature. Other than the count himself (who actually crawls along the façade in the novel), the castle is surrounded by high stone walls and heavy iron gates that clang shut, great arches, and is filled with the sounds of chains rattling, fabrics and furniture hundreds of years old, and a golden dining service that seems to appear out of nowhere. Of course, Count Dracula never drinks wine (he prefers blood!).
Sometimes haunted houses are a bit more fun and palatable when they appear in children’s stories. Some must-reads for this Halloween season include:
- “Ghosts in the House” by Kazuno Kohara
- “Inside a House that is Haunted” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (illustrated by Tedd Arnold)
- “At the Old Haunted House” by Helen Ketteman
- “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by Justine Korman. Okay, it’s really about a pumpkin patch (and not a haunted house), but it’s a Halloween must!
Spooky Houses, Haunted Forts and Castles to Visit
These places will really make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!
- Winchester Mystery House: “Secret passageways, stairs that lead to nowhere, and miles of twisting corridors all delight thousands of visitors to the Winchester Mystery House. Built by Sarah Winchester around 1882, the house has 160 rooms and was built without a blueprint. Each evening Mrs. Winchester would have a séance, and each morning she would tell the builders what the spirits said needed to be built. As a result, Sarah believed she was building a place where she could never be haunted.” The Winchester Mystery House is one of Spartan and the Green Egg’s exciting destinations (and explorer pin). It is one of America’s most famous haunted destinations.
- Edinburgh Castle in Scotland has been besieged so many times (23) over the years (since the 11th Century) that it’s said to inhabit quite a few ghosts. Complete with a network of tunnels (where people have vanished), it sits atop Castle Rock and is a completely imposing—and one of the most historic—sites in the UK.
- Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England, is a four-hundred-year-old country estate and was famously the home of the Townshend family. It is most well known for a photograph taken on one of the home’s several staircases, where the faint image of a spectral woman can be seen. It is believed to be an apparition depicting Dorothy Townshend.
- Bhangarh Fort, from the 17th century, is considered the most haunted place in India. What was once a palace now stands in ruins and is thought to be cursed. With a background of mountains in the distance, it is definitely a sight to behold.
To learn more about fascinating sights around the world, visit SGE on the web and check out the link below:
(John Coulthart illustrations from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” are included in this blog.)
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