Halloween is fast approaching this year and so it’s time to discuss spooky places in Hertfordshire.
The county has a rich history which of course means there’s a lot of haunted stories that have been passed down over generations.
Locations around the area are a paradise for ghost hunters and those that want a thrill – but some are so scary you may want to avoid after dark.
St Albans Cathedral, Hitchin Priory, Hatfield House and numerous pubs have all had ghosts spotted in and around them as well as having ghostly tales.
The county is also home to medieval churches where people have seen apparitions of monks and priests.
We’ve rounded up a list of the 20 most haunted places in Hertfordshire that you’ll need to avoid after dark to help get you in the Halloween mood.
The Brocket Arms, Welwyn
The Brocket Arms in Welwyn is one of the most haunted pubs in the whole of Hertfordshire.
HertsLive spoke to Kelly Smalley, who owns and runs the pub, earlier this year to hear about the ghostly tales and sightings around the pub
In the 14th Century, The Brocket Arms was originally the monastic quarters for the Norman church until the Reformation which now means a monk haunts the place.
The local legend has it that a monk was tried and hanged in the bar area on a hook. In fact, a hook can be seen in the bar today which many think is the original one.
Many believe the monk now haunts the pub and is said to be small while wearing a brown habit. Some have reportedly even seen him on fire, staring at people in the middle of the day.
As well as this there is a ghost of a little boy who sits in the fireplace and some customers have heard a little girl singing – shoulder shuddering stuff.
Minsden Chapel, Preston
South of Hitchin sits Minsden Chapel, or more accurately, its stone ruins.
Surrounded by woodland, this site has an eerie feel to it and that’s before even knowing its history.
Some have reported sightings of a ghostly figure who is said to be climbing stairs that have long since existed while the sound of church bells ring in the distance.
Could this be historian Reginald Hine? He promised to protect his beloved chapel and even haunt it after his death.
Built in the 14th century, the chapel has fallen into disrepair over the years and is now Grade 2 listed.
St Albans Cathedral, St Albans
The ghost of St Albans Cathedral is none other than that of St Alban himself, the first British Christian martyr.
Legend has it, when he was beheaded by the Romans in 304AD where the cathedral now stands, the stream nearby stopped flowing.
People have reported seeing him dressed in white robes with a golden halo behind his head in the abbey.
Others have reported hearing a choir singing and the organ playing while the cathedral has been deserted, as well as seeing hooded figures coming in and out.
The Sun Hotel, Hitchin
This hotel is like a playground for the paranormal with many a tale of ghosts that are up to no good.
With a building that dates back to the 1500s, it’s might not be any surprise to hear that this hotel is haunted.
Beware if you book a room only to be given the key to number 10, you might be sharing with a woman that reportedly hangs around on a regular basis.
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With reports of waking up with the feeling of being suffocated, many have had the fright of their lives when staying here.
A former barmaid has also told of a figure seen helping himself to a drink.
St Mary’s Church, Thundridge
Churches and graveyards can be scary at the best of times, especially at night.
Would you fancy a wander through a graveyard in the dark?
Also known as Cold Christmas Church, these spooky ruins are not far from the A10 and close to the village of Thundridge.
With a number of ghostly sightings over the years, that includes an army marching past and an eerie figure lurking around the graveyard, there are plenty of spooky tales to give you chills.
But the scariest of stories is the tale of an evil presence coming from the tower. Will you dare to visit and risk the wrath of this unwelcoming resident?
The George Hotel, Bishops Stortford
The town’s oldest former coaching inn, The George Hotel has been standing for more than five centuries.
The women sighted in this hotel could have a dark history leaving guests with a real sense of unease.
With the story of a lady that met a murderous end when she was stabbed by an intruder, is she one of the ghosts seen by guests?
Other reports describe a lady cowering over in pain.
Cell Park, Markyate
The wicked Lady Ferrers is said to haunt this North Hertfordshire manor, having died from gunshot wounds during a highway robbery she attempted in the 1600s.
Cell Park, or Markyate Cell as it was previously known, is a 19th-century manor house built on the grounds of a 12th-century priory that was once her ancestral home.
She was said to have turned to highway robbery after her husband died, and her partner in crime was Ralph Chaplin.
There have also been sightings of a nun walking through a well from a group of builders working on the site.
Hatfield House, Hatfield
The daughter of King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, is said to haunt one of Hertfordshire’s most famous attractions, Hatfield House, after having been seen in the Old Palace gateway before vanishing in the churchyard.
A fire in 1835 has left its mark, as the footsteps of a noblewoman who accidentally knocked a candle and burnt to her death have also been heard by some in the same part of the building.
Some people have also reported seeing a phantom carriage and horses sat outside the manor in the dark.
Whatever the case may be, it’s safe to say that Hatfield House can be quite the scary place when night time arrives.
Guessens Court, Welwyn Garden City
Back in the medieval days, long before new towns like Welwyn Garden City had come to exist, the wife of a knight burnt down a farmhouse where her husband had been keeping her mistress.
The knight was said to be so angry he decapitated her, before receiving a royal pardon for services to the kingdom.
Nowadays, thankfully, society has changed a lot in the North of Hertfordshire, but the ghost of a woman is said to still roam around Guessens Court after the atrocities that occurred there.
Strangely, no one is quite sure whether it is the knight’s wife or mistress.
The Salisbury, Hertford
The Salisbury pub in Hertford is another incredibly haunted pub in Hertfordshire.
It has a historic mention dating back to the 18th Century, according to its owners McMullen & Sons which makes it one of the county’s oldest pubs.
McMullen & Sons says on their website: “Reports have been made of ghosts spotted in the pub and rooms, with repeated sightings of a Victorian gentleman who walks into cupboards and disappears. Another of a Civil War soldier who roams the corridors.
“There are also stories of an old tunnel under the Salisbury Arms, which was used in the days that Cromwell stayed in the building for him and his men to escape to an unknown location in times of trouble.”
Knebworth House, Stevenage
Knebworth House was once the home of Sir Bulwer Lytton, a keen occultist, who hosted seances there on occasion.
Now, the ghost of Sir Bulwer himself is said to haunt the property, with staff feeling his presence in the study and drawing room.
The yellow, radiant ghost of a boy has also been sighted, with legend saying his appearance of a symbol of both a rise to power and a violent death.
Rose Cottage, Harpenden
A young woman from the 17th century is said to haunt this Harpenden building.
Legend has it she went to London to make her fortune but fell pregnant.
When she returned to Harpenden she is said to have killed the baby and then herself, but now her spirit remains.
Over the years people have reported furniture having been moved around mysteriously and 1980s tenants who rented the property moved out after a few days to escape.
St Peter’s Church, Tewin
At St Peter’s Church in Tewin there lies the grace of a Lady Anne Grimston which is incredibly unusual.
When she was alive she was said to be a loyal atheist and as she laid on her death bed in 1780 she ignored the vicar’s offer to recant her blasphemy.
She refused and said: “If there is any truth in the teachings of the bible, then seven trees will sprout from my grave.”
After her death, she was buried at the church and weirdly, several trees have now sprouted through her tomb slightly lifting it up.
The tombstone is cracked because of this and you can still visit the church today and see the grave.
Hitchin Priory, Hitchin
The apparition of a mysterious grey lady has been reportedly seen floating above the stairs on the top floor of this Hitchin building.
Legend has it one 19th century ghoul and the ghost of another woman also haunt the grounds, appearing in various rooms of the priory.
The building dates back to the 14th century and certainly has its fair share of stories to tell.
Definitely one to be avoided in the dark!
Horse Cross, Braughing
Horse Cross in Braughing may just look like a normal road but it’s really not.
Every five years some may be lucky – or unlucky depending on how you feel – and see the ghosts of five monks who died after food poisoning.
Supposedly the monks now walk the road as punishment for eating the trout that they ate which was forbidden.
Many years ago many thought that when they appeared it would bring great prosperity to the area but apparently when they failed to appear in 1926 many thought the lucky streak was over.
The Horse and Chains, Bushey
The Horse and Chains pub in Bushey used to be incredibly haunted in the 1970s and 1990s.
Over a small period of a couple of years apparently witnesses saw on multiple occasions glasses flying off the shelves and onto the till.
The building is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former landlord but unfortunately, not many ghosts have been seen recently.
That’s probably a good thing though for the customers and staff’s safety.
Rectory Lane, Datchworth
This town is said to be one of the most haunted in the county so be prepared for some spooky goings-on if you dare to visit.
It’s not just the people that will haunt you, the animals are at it too!
There are reports of a headless horse roaming the fields nearby and a phantom cart that tears up and down Rectory Lane.
And with tales of people being thrown into bushes as the cart rushes by them, if you want to experience the paranormal force of this town’s spirits, it’s well worth a visit.
Watford Palace Theatre, Watford
Watford Palace Theatre was built in 1908 and is an Edwardian Grade II listed building.
Some say you can hear the ghosts of actors past walking on the floorboards of the theatre’s stage.
An icy chill and the sound of footsteps have greeted some present-day actors in their dressing rooms, with some reporting the presence of a malevolent spirit.
Two people fell to their deaths from the theatre’s gallery once, and it is rumoured that this was what started the paranormal activity.
The Olde Kings Arms, Hemel Hempstead
A large, jolly man is said to haunt some of the upstairs bedrooms of this old alehouse in Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town.
He is rumoured to be the ghost of Henry VIII, who had strong links to the Old High Street and frequented many of its inns and pubs.
Another ghost, ‘The Brown Lady’, has been reported regularly by ghost hunters.
Apparently, the young woman met the love of her life at the pub and they arranged to meet there again after the first world war, but he never returned, leaving her still waiting today.
Dog and Whistle, Hertford
Now a bar, restaurant and hotel, this popular Hertford hotspot has a haunted history particularly room number one – stay in that room if you dare.
Guests have reported the taste of blood in their mouths with a rather unpleasant and tense feeling in the room.
A dark presence has also been reported in this room which can make even the strongest of people quiver.
With Halloween coming up, get a room booked if you’re fascinated by the paranormal.