Behold – the places in Essex deemed so spooky that they’re haunted by ghosts, ghouls and legends.
Love it or hate it, Halloween in Essex is fast approaching and there’s far more to do than pumpkin carving.
Essex is lucky enough to hold a lot of history, but with that comes a whole lot of baggage.
Four of these places in Essex were actually included in the list of the 100 most haunted places in the UK.
The locations were ranked in order of thee[ number of “reports of paranormal activity, unique ghosts count and the longevity of the haunting”.
With ghosts and ghouls lurking around, including the spirits of those who were murdered, there have long been sightings recorded around the county.
But what are the places you should be avoiding if you don’t want to see a ghost? Find out below:
The most haunted places in Basildon
Pitsea Mount (St. Michaels Church)
The Pitsea Mount is situated right by the A13 on the east of Basildon with St Michaels Church standing tall and overlooking Pitsea.
The church was built in the 13 century and only the tower and the cemetery remain.
In 1988 it was reported that a group of youngsters were playing in the churchyard and witnessed two black dogs.
The dogs were described as being very large and had red eyes.
They had seen the animals at the north side of the church near to the ‘Witches Grave’.
The group tried to climb higher and get away from the dogs but they vanished as quickly as they appeared.
They are known as the Black Shucks of Basildon and have gone down in legend with some believing that a sighting is an omen of death.
Holy Cross Church
One of the more famous Basildon ghost stories is that of the red monk of the Holy Cross Church, on Church Road.
In 1964, terrified witnesses were reporting that they had been scared by the apparition of a monk dressed in red robes.
The monk was seen floating across Church Road before heading for the churchyard and simply disappearing from view.
However, in 2004 a group of jokers admitted that on occasion they had played a ghostly prank by projecting an image of the phantom monk onto the early morning fog.
Located between Epping and Greater London, the forest covers almost 6,000 acres, part of which is a Special Area of Conservation.
It’s also famous for its connections to the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin who was said to have had a hideout there, according to Higgypop.
The website claims that at Hangman’s Hill, an area known locally as a “gravity spot”, drivers are said to experience a “strange phenomenon whereby their car rolls up a hill”.
Locals claim the ghost of a hangman is responsible for pulling the cars, and seemingly defying gravity.
The most haunted places in Brentwood
Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
The secret nuclear bunker at Kelvedon Hatch is a large underground bunker maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters.
It was decommissioned in 1992 and is now open as a tourist attraction and a museum.
It hosts a variety of events.
However, it is also notorious as a haunted location and even appeared on the Living TV show ‘Most Haunted’.
There is a story that during the bunker’s construction concrete was being poured day and night.
On one particular morning, workers on the day shift discovered the foreman’s hat floating in the wet concrete.
The man in question was never seen again.
Several apparitions are said to roam the complex including a tall elderly lady and an RAF Officer.
133 Brentwood High Street
The shop on the high street is currently ENVI Nails and Beauty but there have been reports of plenty of hauntings occurring.
As early as 1953 there have been phantom laughs and areas of extreme hot and cold inside felt inside.
Violent reactions from animals have also been reported in this building.
Churchyard near Kelvedon Hall
According to some this churchyard was his haunted by a hound after it was shot on the church altar by an angry landowner.
Pond on Thriftwood Estate
After becoming lost at night, a farmer and his horse fell into this pond and died many years ago.
It is now reported that the sound of a horse whinnying at night can be heard.
Mason’s (formerly the Fountain Head)
Now a popular restaurant, Mason’s used to be the Fountain Head on Ingrave Road.
Reportedly they have a poltergeist stalking the premises with rumours stretching back to 1969.
A number of bottles have been heard to explode on their own accord and several pieces of furniture have been rearranged by an invisible presence.
The Golden Fleece Inn, 126 London Road
Another notorious haunted spot in Brentwood, the Golden Fleece, part of the Harvester chain, is said to be haunted by a monk.
The ghost of the monk has been reported inside the building several times and always appears in a mirror.
However, he then disappears when the witness turns around to investigate further.
The New World Inn
From the 1960s onwards it is said that it is essentially impossible to spend a night in room 14 of the inn, located in Great Warley.
The reason being is that the room contains the spirit of the previous owner Mrs de Rougemont.
The sound of a party has also been reported inside the building.
The Swan, Brentwood High Street
Another familiar haunted location for most Brentwood residents is The Swan on the High Street.
The pub is home to a poltergeist that has been plaguing the owners since the 1960s.
The poltergeist has been known to turn water taps on and off, unlock doors, hide household items and antagonise animals.
Warley Lea Farm
Located in Warley, this farm is believed to be the home of a bailiff who hanged himself.
As a result the building suffers from phantom footsteps on the staircase and numerous other bangs and crashes.
Could it be the bailiff lurking around following his passing?
The most haunted places in Chelmsford
The Civic Theatre is haunted all year by a technician who was killed in nearby Duke Street.
In fact many visitors to the theatre have been shocked upon finding out that the man who was often showing them around was actually a ghost.
When he is seen in December he is the form of a white butterfly and people have often felt as if they are being watched.
Footsteps have been heard on the stage and there visitors often get the feeling of being watched.
The staff at Hylands House have witnessed a few unexplained encounters over the years.
A man has been spotted wearing a Victorian long coat and a top hat while carrying a set of keys on the landing of the first floor.
Staff have also been told to get out by an eerie voice coming from the cellar of the house.
An angry man has been reported in the library, as he doesn’t like strangers in the house, and a young girl often appears in the drawing room when the piano is being played.
Essex Regiment Museum
In recent years the regimental museum has experienced its own haunting events.
In the early hours of the morning the slamming of a door has been heard.
Additionally people have also been known to hear the laughter of a child in the early hours.
At Chelmsford Prison the apparitions of a woman “wearing a crinoline dress and bonnet” and a figure of an “old-fashioned prison warder” carrying a lamp have been reported.
Both staff and prisoners alike have seen the strange apparitions with some also reporting the ghost of a priest.
Audible noises such as disembodied voices, the sounds of children playing, unexplained bangs and footsteps have also been heard.
Patching Hall Lane
The apparition of a tall and very pale man wearing a cloak and top hat has often been reported in Patching Hall Lane in Chelmsford.
St. Mary’s Church
This church is located in Church Street, Great Baddow, and has been known to play host to a group of phantom Civil War era soldiers.
They have been seen outside the church building and a phantom monk has also been reported walking in the aisles of the interior.
The most haunted places in Thurrock
Tilbury Fort is an English Heritage site where Queen Elizabeth rallied her troops to fight against the Spanish Armada in 1588.
It’s said that ghosts of soldiers can be seen manning the walls at night and they disappear when you approach them.
Some have also claimed that they have heard phantom soldiers marching day and night from the parade grounds.
And if you’re brave enough, there’s also ghost tours on offer.
East Tilbury Battery
The battery is located just half a mile away from Coalhouse Fort constructed in 1890 to supplement the Coalhouse Fort as part of the Thames’ coastal defence system.
In 1930 the battery was sold to a local farmer for £1,200 and was used as an unofficial air raid shelter during the Second World War.
Today the battery still contains old magazines and emplacements.
Although the background behind the supposed supernatural tendencies is unclear, people have reported hearing footsteps within the tunnels.
Royal Hotel, Purfleet
It is thought room 31 in the Royal Hotel is haunted by the ghosts of a young couple.
The girl was said to be murdered by her boyfriend after an argument about his gambling habit.
Staff claim they have seen figures standing at the far end of the balcony, with items mysteriously moving and drinks been thrown onto the floor.
Guests of the hotel won’t sleep there making it one of the least used rooms in the hotel.
The World’s End pub
Legend has it that this pub in Tilbury, which was formerly the Ferry House, is haunted by highwayman Nick Nevison, also known as ‘Swift Nick’.
The ghostly figure of Swift Nick has been seen leaning over a child’s bed in one of the pub’s upstairs rooms.
He has also been rumoured to relight fires which have previously burnt out.
Built during the 1860s, the Coalhouse Fort was utilised during World War One and World War Two before being used for storage before it was eventually sold to Thurrock Council in 1962.
The washrooms at Coalhouse Fort are said to be haunted by the spirit of a man, who has been nicknamed “Harry”.
Harry has reportedly been responsible for visitors being pushed or grabbed while walking through the building, as well as numerous exploding lightbulbs.
Visitors have also reported seeing dark figures lurking at the end of hallways with a cloud of smoke and some have heard the disembodied voices of men along with the laughter of children in the tunnels beneath the building.
St Clere’s Hall, Stanford-le-Hope
St Clere’s Hall is a historic and medieval house in Stanford-le-Hope which is said to be haunted.
Poltergeist activity has resulted in a table and chair moving in the nursery and people have reported a ghostly figure in an upstairs window.
A woman has also been spotted in the main downstairs room with staff claiming they feel ‘watched.’
Although there has been few visits, paranormal teams reported noting numerous energies and extreme changes in temperatures.
Cash’s Well, Basildon
Located in Langdon Hills country park, this well has stood derelict and abandoned since 1924 when it was taken out of use, but spirits are believed to still haunt the area.
Essex Ghost Hunters, who have been performing ghost investigations at locations across the county for ten years, believe the well is one of the most haunted they’ve visited.
The group have seen and sensed the spirits of 20 children. The group believes they come down from the old sanatorium at the top of the hill.
In fact it is so scary that people ‘burst into tears’.
The most haunted places in Colchester
The Fox and Fiddler
The Fox and Fiddler pub is said to be haunted by a young chambermaid called Sarah.
Apparently Sarah is a ‘fun loving ghost’ who has been known to play pranks on the pub’s members of staff as well as the guests.
According to legend, Matthew Hopkins, otherwise known as the Witchfinder general, was responsible for the death of Sarah.
It’s said he dragged her down into the pub’s cellar and bricked her up in a disused tunnel under the inn.
The Greenlands Vodka Bar
Near the Scheregate steps is an old 16th century building that is now Greenlands Vodka Bar.
The first floor of that building is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of an unknown woman – but the floorboards come to her knees.
In the 1980s cleaners at Colchester’s old Hippodrome would often say hello to George when they entered the building.
George was a former employee who worked at the Hippodrome but fell to his death years previously.
One of the cleaners would see his apparition regularly whilst others would only just hear his ghostly voice talking to them.
Colchester Police Station
The police station in Colchester, situated in the centre of town, is built on an ancient graveyard that dates back to AD 5.
Because of its location people attribute this to frequent paranormal activity, which has been reported over the years.
People have noticed an eerie presence, strange odours and there have also been reports of people being touched by an unknown entity.
Some terrified witnesses have even seen a ghostly grey phantom near the boiler room.
A mischievous poltergeist is also said to be present in the kitchen.
Since Colchester has been a garrison town for numerous years it perhaps isn’t surprising too hear there are a few stories of ghosts.
In 1911 it was heard that three different soldiers were all knocked out by an unseen assailant during the middle of the night.
In 1975 it sounded as if the angry ghost had returned as a corporal in the barracks heard a door being banged so forcefully it shook at the hinges.
He flung open the door to see who was causing the commotion only to discover that there was no one behind it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Colchester Castle, a Norman castle constructed on the foundations of a Roman temple, there is plenty of history.
However, its ghost story involves a Quaker called James Parnell who was arrested and imprisoned in Colchester Castle in 1656.
After refusing to pay a magistrate fine he was imprisoned, treated badly and died in April 1656.
Siege House in Colchester is located near the town’s eastern bridge, which crosses over the River Colne, in the area that saw fierce fighting in the early days of well-known Civil War siege.
As a result the area is said to be haunted by soldiers that died during the English Civil War.
Situated next door to the Holytrees Museum is a 17th century building called East Lodge, which is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady.
One day one of the Lodge’s cleaners was in the blue room when she heard noises coming from it.
She felt she was being watched and all of a sudden she could smell a strong old fashioned floral perfume.
She turned around and came face to face with a strange woman in a crinoline dress and grey bonnet.
The Grey Lady then suddenly vanished in front of the cleaner and the story was born.
The museum also has its own ghost that haunts the museum called the White Lady.
Many people believe it to be the spirit of the former owner Anne Lisle, although some believe it to be a nun or a murder victim from the 18th century.
Layer Marney Tower
The palace, which is halfway between Colchester and Tiptree, is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lord Marney.
However, there are a number of resident ghosts including a man in full armour and a distressed young woman in the grounds.
The Red Lion Hotel, Colchester
The Grade I listed building, situated in the heart of Colchester on High Street, has had its fair share of ghost stories and encounters over the years.
It is the second-oldest hostelry in England, dating back to the 15th century, and the building still has original Tudor features.
According to Higgypop, management aren’t allowed to mention the ghost fearing the stories will “scare customers away”.
They also claim that the building is said to be haunted by Alice Katherine Millar, a murder victim whose “spirit” has been spotted in a number of rooms around the hotel.
The most haunted places in Harlow
Green Man Hotel, Old Harlow
The Green Man Hotel in Harlow is thought to be haunted by a bereaved mother who continues to search for her child who sadly died.
It is thought her powerful desire to have children led her to forge an adulterous relationship with the local blacksmith.
She fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl but sadly, the girl was tragically burnt to death in a fire.
To this day, it is thought the mother is still looking for her child in the 600-year old coaching Inn.
The most haunted places in Clacton and Tendring
Manningtree was once home to the self-titled ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins.
Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne, are estimated to have sentenced nearly 400 people to death in their time as witch hunters.
On the evening of a full moon, the ghost of Hopkins in said to haunt Manningtree and particularly Mistley Pond where he infamously drowned many people for witchcraft.
Several people have also said to have seen his ghost in different pubs around the area including; The Mistley Thorn Hotel, The White Hart Inn and The Red Lion.
The village of St Osyth is said to have taken its name from Princess Osyth who was beheaded by Vikings after she refused to renounce her faith.
It is said that after she was beheaded, Osyth rose from the ground, retrieved her head from the floor and walked to the nearby monastery where she knocked on the door three times before collapsing.
On the October 7, people have said the St Osyth ghost makes the same walk through Nuns Wood clutching her severed head.
Treasure Holt Garden Centre
Legend has it that smugglers and murderers once used the Treasure Holt Garden Centre as a hide-out.
It is also said that the innkeeper at the time used to murder many people and then dump their bodies by a trapdoor into a well beneath it.
Visitors to the place have reported seeing a monk who floats around on the grounds, while other reported ghosts including a cavalier and two women, one of which is usually seen in the lounge while the other is by the fireplace.
In the surrounding area of the property, the ghosts of a highwayman and a man beaten to death by a mob are also reported.
The White Hart
People have reported several supernatural sightings including the ghost of a woman looking for her husband.
It is thought a woman crossing a frozen river fell through the ice and drowned with her ghost seen walking the corridors of the White Hart to search for her husband to this very day.
Another spirit that is said to occupy the pub in Clacton is that of a Labrador retriever.
The self-titled ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins is has also been spotted here.
Mistley Towers are the twin towers of the now demolished Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Mistley.
Whilst the haunted information on Mistley Towers is vague, it is well known for witches.
Matthews Hopkins was based in Manningtree and Mistley during a dark period of English history – the time of brutal witch-hunts.
The activities of the Essex Witchfinders took place between 1645 and 1647.
Nationally in this period, 112 were hanged for witchcraft – 82 coming from Essex.
It is likely that Hopkins and his colleague, John Stearne, were responsible for a lot of these.
The pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of Kitty Canham, also known as the Beautiful Bigamist, who married the vicar at Michael’s Church Alexander Gough.
Legend has it that Kitty became bored with life in Thorpe and to get away from her domineering husband, went to London.
She met and married John Primrose, Lord Delmeny, who was unaware that she still had a husband in Essex.
Kitty fell ill and died of consumption and while on her deathbed confessed to being still married to Gough.
Her dying wish was to be buried in Thorpe-le-Soken and St Michael’s churchyard.
To this day, owners, staff and guests have all felt the presence of a spirit in the pub, while occupiers of neighbouring cottages have also reported paranormal activity.
Ruins of St. Peter’s Church
This Grade ll listed building which was built in 1320, was tragically burnt down in 1971 and has been left as a ruin ever since.
Although no one knows the exact cause of the fire, some locals claim it were vandals while others blame it on white witches.
It’s said that the church has been used as a venue for white witches to perform rituals for decades.
While the haunting of the ruins remains vague, paranormal teams have said to have collected evidence that spirits occupy the area.
The Old Kinema
Clacton’s old Kinema was once said to be haunted before it was demolished in 1962.
It is said that a projectionist who worked at the Kinema in 1940 committed suicide leading to a staggering number of reports of paranormal activity.
Witnesses have reported seeing an apparition of an old man dressed in a 1940’s suit and others have seen a white ghostly mist.
Others have claimed they have seen doors open and shut and heard unexplained footsteps stomping around the building.
Some people have also felt icy hands touching them and on some occasions have been shoved in the back by an unknown force.
Ballroom at former Butlins Camp
A former Butlins Camp near the Martello Tower is said to have been haunted after a fatal brawl.
It’s said a soldier was killed after a brawl broke out in the old ballroom of the Camp.
From that fatal night, witnesses reported that the ghost of the dead soldier was seen walking the area.
However, since the redevelopment of the area, there have been no more official sightings of the ghostly soldier.
The Wilson House
The Wilson House was once a dormitory in the mid to late 20th century.
Unexplained heavy footsteps were often reported walking the corridors in the dead of the night.
A group of school girls reportedly witnessed a ghostly apparition during one evening.
Dubbed as one of Britain’s most haunted houses, The Cage has been the subject of several television paranormal investigations after it went up for sale in 2015.
The cottage was formerly the prison for notorious Essex witch Ursula Kemp who was hung in 1582 after being accused of causing the deaths of two children.
It is said that Ursula was a midwife but cursed a child when the mother decided to choose her neighbour to deliver the baby instead.
The infant later died and she was accused of cursing the family.
Witch hunters tracked her down after rumours grew that Ursula was able to cure and inflict illnesses.
Ursula was the last Essex witch and was hung alongside another woman accused of being a witch, Alice Newman.