Their existence cannot be scientifically proven. Or at least, not yet. So why should we believe in ghosts? Still, it was only centuries ago that mankind believed the Earth was flat, and those who challenged the theory were deemed heretics. There are two things all ghosts have in common. They seem set on scaring and terrorizing innocent people, and they appear to be camera shy. Over the past century, many such photographs traveled across the Globe. Specialists analyzed them carefully: some look like the real deal, while others are plain technical errors, or simply hoaxes.
Poltergeists are among the most exploited themes in movies and novels. Shakespeare played with the idea of life after death and ghost sightings in several of his plays, the most famous being the ghost of King Hamlet, without which young Hamlet and the entire tragedy would not have made any sense. There’s of course Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Naturally, Casper, the friendly ghost, remains everyone’s favorite ghost. However, he was just a cartoon character, while the following ghosts seem to have had real contact with humans on a number of occasions. Whether they be the spirits of notable personalities, of close relatives, or former tenants, there is a certain consistency in the spine tingling accounts of their sightings. They would scare the hell out of Casper. If you don’t believe in ghosts, these stories might change your mind.
10. The Poltergeist of Hampton Court
The case of the poltergeist of Hampton Court dates from 2003. The estate near London was one of the favorite spots to throw banquets for King Henry VIII. Although legends of ghosts wandering around Hampton Court have been around for centuries, it was the famous 1 minute long surveillance footage revealing what looks like a poltergeist that drew the attention of paranormal enthusiasts. Presently, the estate is a museum, and there are strict visiting hours. At the time of the footage, there was no one left in the building. The watchmen heard a loud noise, like someone slamming a door against the wall. They searched the place, but there was nobody there. They returned and looked at the surveillance footage, which revealed a ghostly figure wearing a vintage costume slamming a door a few times.
9. The Bell Witch
One of the oldest ghost stories of the United States, the Bell Witch case dates from the early 19th century. The Bell family lived peacefully at their farm in Tennessee. Problems started when John Bell, the head of the family, shot a strange animal on his property, but it vanished before he could identify what it was. Shortly after, strange noises started to come from the house. Objects would inexplicably fall down, animals behaved strangely without obvious reasons, and people were physically attacked by invisible forces, including Bell’s daughter Betsy. All these were believed to be the doing of Kate Batts, who had been executed as a witch.
The events that took place between 1817 and 1821 can be classified as the classic ghost story. John Bell ultimately died, and a strange bottle with an unknown substance was found by his body. His death was attributed to the ghost. At the time, authorities in Tennessee classified the case as the only death in history caused by a ghost.
8. Bloody Mary
Mary Worth lived a long time ago and there are a number of different legends regarding her. Some say she was a beautiful girl who used to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. Due to a terrible accident, she was disfigured and she was not allowed to look in the mirror anymore for fear she would go mad. One night when everyone was asleep, she sneaked in front of the mirror, she immediately burst into tears and disappeared into the mirror, promising to disfigure anyone who tries to find her. Others say Mary Worth was actually a woman who killed all her children, or that she was executed for supposedly being a witch.
“Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary” Those are the secret words to summon her. It is a pretty common game at children’s slumber parties, which involves going into a dark room, usually a bathroom, and saying her name three times in front of the mirror, and she will make her appearance when turning the light on.
7. Ghosts of the Stanley Hotel
In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, in Estes Park, Colorado, tourists checking in at the Stanley Hotel have complained about a series of unpleasant, bizarre, and skin crawling events. Even some of the employees claim to have heard someone playing the piano in the grand ballroom, when in fact there was nobody there, while others overheard a great commotion, as if there was some great banquet in there. Local stories talk about Flora, an artist who died there long ago, and who returns to play the piano every now and then. Children are heard playing in the halls when there are no children staying at the hotel. Guests have also reported seeing ghosts in their rooms. Most activity is found on the fourth floor, where the ghost of Lord Dunraven, the previous owner of the land the hotel was built on, is often seen looking out the window of room 407. Looks and sounds familiar, doesn’t it. The Stanley Hotel was the inspiration behind Stephen King‘s The Shining, turned into a film directed by Stanley Kubrick, one of the famous director’s most controversial productions.
6. Amityville Ghosts
Little did the inhabitants of the quiet village of Amityville near New York know that in November 1974, inside one of the peaceful houses, a terrible murder was taking place. Ronald DeFeo Jr. cold-bloodedly killed his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters. One year later, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house with their three children. They stayed for less than a month before fleeing the house, terrified of what looked like poltergeist activity. Terrifying noises, moving objects, green slime, and ghost sightings forced them to move out.
It seems as if some evil spirit took hold of young Ronald DeFeo, forcing him to commit the horrible crime. Due to their violent deaths, the spirits of the family members remained in the house, making it impossible for the new tenants to live there. The theory of the kid being possessed is fueled by the fact that all family members were found as if sleeping face down, there were no gun shots heard even though no silencer was used, and no one seemed to have resisted the attacks.
5. The Brown Lady of Raynham Court
The most famous picture ever taken of a ghost is that of the Brown Lady of Raynham Court as she was walking up the stairs of the castle. Lady Dorothy Townshend was a beautiful young woman, the wife of Charles Townshend, with whom she lived at Raynham Court in Norfolk, England in the early 18th century. It seems that Lady Dorothy was the mistress of Lord Wharton. Lord Charles found out about the affair, and locked Dorothy in a section of the castle, leaving her there until she died under mysterious circumstances in 1726. Sightings of her ghosts began shortly after.
A famous account was recorded in 1849, when Major Loftus was staying at Raynham Court and saw a woman in brown brocade and, when confronting her, he observed two black sockets instead of her eyes. Two centuries after hear death, in 1936, a woman saw Lady Dorothy climbing up the stairs and took her picture. Most experts agree on its authenticity.
4. Hitchhiker’s Ghost
The hitchhiker’s ghost is an often repeated urban legend, as old as time, that can be traced back to horseback, or covered wagons, hitchhiking. A young woman is hitchhiking by the side of the road. Drivers will stop to help her, and she will get in the back seat. She does not say much, she just explains where she lives. A while later, when pulling into the driveway in front of the girl’s house, the driver will look at the back seat and find the girl has disappeared. The driver will knock on the door of the house. An old couple will answer, saying that the girl, their daughter, has been dead for years, killed in a car accident on that very same day and on the very same spot where the driver had previously picked her up.
Another variation to this ghost story is Resurrection Mary, particularly bizarre due to the consistency of the story. The girl looks the same and disappears in the same spot, in front of Resurrection cemetery in Justice, Illinois. She has beautiful blonde locks and blue eyes, wears a white party dress, and has been dead since 1930.
3. The Flying Dutchman
The Flying Dutchman is not the ghost of a person, but of a 17th century merchant ship that haunts the seas, the most famous non-human ghost, making its appearance in various corners of the world. In 1641, Captain Hendrik van der Decken ignored the pleas of his crew to take safe harbor during a storm. He challenged God to take them down, and it seems that the Flying Dutchman and its entire crew were cursed.
The ship reveals itself to sailors as a hazy image, and is said to bring about bad luck, or doom. Some claim to have seen the ghost ship on a crash course for their ship, only for it to disappear just before collision. A similar sighting was witnessed by none other than King George of England in 1881. In 1923, the Flying Dutchman was seen off the south coast of Africa. The ghost ship inspired several movies and novels, the most famous of all being The Pirates of the Caribbean.
2. Ghost of Anne Boleyn
The second wife of King Henry VIII and the mother of future Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn spent three years by her husband’s side before he got tired of her and looked for a way to end their marriage. Anne was accused of adultery, incest, and witchcraft, all of which most historians agree were a false motif for the king to get rid of her. Anne Boleyn was decapitated on the 19th of May, 1536, and held her head high till the end.
Her ghost is one of the most famous poltergeist sightings on the Globe. She has been seen in a number of locations, most frequently in the famed Tower of London. She is sometimes seen just as she was when she was alive, beautiful and wearing a lovely gown. However, there are other sightings that are more troubling. Anne is seen as she was after being executed, headless and carrying her head under one arm.
1. Ghost of Abraham Lincoln
According to legend, Lincoln saw his fate before being assassinated. He had a dream he was attending a funeral at the White House, and when he asked who had died, one of the mourners answered “The President… he was killed by an assassin.” Abe Lincoln told the dream to his cabinet.
Abe Lincoln’s ghost is a famous and prolific apparition in the halls of the White House, and has been seen by many famous visitors and residents. First Lady Grace Coolidge and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt both saw and felt his presence. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands fainted straight away when she opened the door to respond to a series of knocks, and found Abe sitting there. There’s even a funny account involving Abe Lincoln’s ghost and Winston Churchill. The latter tells the story of how he was coming out of the bath, naked, and saw Abe Lincoln near the fireplace. He immediately thought of a clever thing to say: “Good Evening, Mr. President. We seem to have met at a disadvantage,” at which Lincoln smiled and disappeared.