It's getting towards that time of the year again: the new series of American Horror Story is with us, a new Paranormal Activity film threatens to
bore us all rigid scare the socks off us...it can only be Halloween. To celebrate the macabre holiday, we're taking a look at some real-life haunted houses that are far more terrifying than anything the febrile imaginations of Hollywood can throw at us. Imagine ghoulish figures lurking in the corners, blood dripping down the walls - your average Glasgow pub, basically.
While sceptics scoff and mutter, the following ten houses - all homes, so notorious spectral hotspots such as castles are excluded - have all been the subject of many things that go bump in the night. Strange voices have been heard, poltergeist activity spotted and ghostly apparitions have horrified even the hardiest of souls. Even more appalling than the hauntings themselves are the stories behind these damned dwellings; a home locally known as 'The Axe Murder House' more than deserves its foul reputation.
Some of the homes featured are still inhabited, others have long since been abandoned to the spirits. Unbelievably, many are the subject of paid tours, where you can even spend the night should you possess more money than sense. You don't think that you believe in ghosts? Come, let us take you by the hand and see if we can change your minds.
10 Blickling Hall
The Norfolk mansion was declared to be the 'most haunted house in Britain' by none other than the English National Trust, in 2007. Blickling Hall was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife. The luckless Boelyn failed to provide the male heir that the Tyrant King craved and was executed on the dubious grounds of adultery as Henry couldn't gain a divorce. On May 19 every year, the anniversary of her death, Boleyn's headless ghost is said to draw up to Blickling Hall in a carriage drawn by a headless horseman. Though ghostly children and sinister presences have also been reported, it is the image of Anne carrying her own head under her arm which proves the biggest draw to ghost hunters.
9 Bhangarh Fort
This is a mansion so haunted that even the local government refuses to set foot in the place. The Archaeological Survey of India situated their base a full kilometer away from the ancient fort and have banned visitors from entering between sunrise and sunset. Folk tales tell of an evil magician cursing the town after being dumped by his lover, who lived in the premises. After the curse was placed, the area fell into a cycle of famine and war, which led to the area being abandoned in the early 18th century. Those who have managed to gain access to the site reported feeling overwhelming sadness and unease until they left the grounds.
8 The White House
Possibly the most famous residence in the world, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is also one of the most haunted. Abigail Adams was the first First Lady to take up residence at the White House and is apparently reluctant to leave; her ghost has been frequently spotted doing laundry in the East Wing. The Queen's Bedroom, or Rose Room as it was first known, is the greatest spectral hotspot in the White House. The ghost of President Andrew Jackson has been seen and heard walking around the room. None other than Winston Churchill reported to have seen Abraham Lincoln's ghost staring out of the windows of the Lincoln bedroom on a state visit. The Obamas have reported waking up in the middle of the night to feel something caressing their feet. The ghosts will all presumably flee should Donald Trump gain the keys to the White House.
7 Milan Mansion
The Milan Mansion, in Ohio, has been feared by locals for generations. It was inhabited by a woman who freely admitted to practising witchcraft, leading to residents of the small town of Milan crossing the street to avoid walking past the place. The woman, known as the Milan Witch, never actually left the house - she is said to be buried underneath the front porch. Fearing a 'witches curse' that is said to strike down anybody who enters the residence and widely-heard stories about whispering and laughter heard coming from the windows of the house mean that it has long since been abandoned.
6 Bailey Mansion
The derelict residence on Bailey Street in Lowell, Connecticut, is the inspiration for the American Horror Story: Hotel series. Much like the TV show, visitors to the infamous house speak of many disturbing experiences, although with possibly fewer demons devouring people whole. Abandoned for decades, people have witnessed water running despite the utilities having been cut off years ago. Even more disturbingly, blood stains have reportedly appeared at random on the walls and shadowy figures spotted watching curious visitors. The house is said to contain an atmosphere that chills you to the bone as soon as you enter.
5 Lemp Mansion
The St. Louis mansion was named by Life magazine as one of the most haunted houses in the USA during the 80s. Paranormal activity is rife, with objects moving by themselves and whispering voices heard by several witnesses. The mansion has a tragic history behind it; it was first inhabited by the William Lemp family, brewers who faced tragedy. Four family members, spanning three generations committed suicide, with three dying in the Lemp mansion. The ghosts of the Lemps are not only said to haunt the residence, but it is widely believed that they were driven to despair and suicide by ghosts that were already present when they moved in.
4 Belmez Cottage
The cottage formerly belonging to Maria Gomez Pereira lies in the town of Belmez, in the southern Spanish province of Jaen, in the town of Belméz; though it looks unremarkable from the outside, it is the scene of a mystery that has baffled paranormal investigators since 1971. It was then that Pereira noticed an apparition on her kitchen floor. On close inspection, she saw that it resembled a 3D plaster casting of a human face, as if a corpse had risen to the surface of the cement. She called her neighbours, who chipped away at the floor with an axe, only to discover multiple faces lurking beneath the top layer. Scientists proved that the faces weren't painted on, but couldn't work out where they appeared from. Disturbingly, Maria's house is built on the site of a burial ground dating back to the 1830s.
3 Hooley Haunted Mansion
Can a building contain inherent evil or is it influenced by the reputation afforded by events that went on within the walls? The Hooley hotel, in Texas, became the subject of infamy during the 1970s when drifters and backpackers who stayed in the bed and breakfast began to be slaughtered. A number of murders occurred in the hotel, which led locals to believe that the place was either cursed or demonic entities were possessing the guests and making them carry out homicides. Whatever the truth, investigators have spoken of taking photos of the abandoned house, only to later see pools of blood and shadowy apparitions in the developed film.
2 Villisca Axe Murder House
Following the murder of the Borden family in 1892, their home, the scene of the crime, was turned into a bed and breakfast. Unwisely ignoring the haunted reputation of the house, the Moore family bought the place in 1912 and, following a function, invited two friends to spend the night at the house. As they slept, everybody in the house was murdered in the most horrific fashion with an axe, the culprit(s) never to be found. Suspicion dogged the community for years and the house was widely shunned. Visitors to the house have since reported flying lamps, mysterious voices and objects moving by themselves. Should you be brave enough, the house is open for tours...and overnight stays.
1 Amityvile Horror House
You may have heard of this one. The case of the Lutz family was portrayed in the seminal film The Amityville Horror in the seventies (and again in an underrated Ryan Reynolds remake at the turn of the millennium). In 1974, the DeFeo family inhabited the house and six members were slaughtered by eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr. The following year, the Lutz family moved in, only to quickly abandon the premises after reporting unexplained odors and drafts and paranormal activity. Most frighteningly of all, they claimed to see a demon that took the form of a half-pig, half-man like creature.