Most historic churches were first built because there was a need for a cemetery near a small town or village. These structures were privy to old world styles of worship from the rich community of immigrants that founded the United States of America. From Norwegian style churches in Texas to Gothic style cathedrals in Washington D.C. there are influences from all over the world embedded in the churches of the United States.
Something that all of these churches have in common with those of the United Kingdom is that they’re almost always haunted. Since churches are attached to cemeteries they are hotbeds of paranormal activity. Since it conflicts with a lot of their doctrine a lot of churches choose to ignore their spectral visitors, but many paranormal investigation teams have traveled on site to get to the bottom of the paranormal activity. As you'll learn, there are multiple types of ghosts and churches are places where demons, poltergeists, or malevolent apparitions hang out.
Generally the ghosts at these locations were buried at the church and stick around as residual energies or intelligent spirits that can interact with us.
One thing all these churches have in common? They shouldn’t be visited by the faint of heart.
15 St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Key West, Florida
The really haunted part of this Florida church is the graveyard which was founded in the early 19th century. Six years after the land for the cemetery was donated the church was started and built completely out of coral rock. Unfortunately this beautiful building was obliterated in a hurricane only eight years later and after that, the structure suffered a fire. All of these tragedies make this an obvious site for paranormal activity. Most experiences revolve around a man dressed in 19th-century garb who appears in a flimsy white vapor. Some say that this is the first proprietor of the land who is still burning in the modest graveyard. Rumor has it that he’s upset at having his grave disturbed so many times. There are also tales of an angry sea captain who likes to travel around the grounds frightening guests that dare to visit. On top of these experiences some report hearing or seeing paranormal children playing and laughing.
14 St. Nicholas Church in Pluckley, United Kingdom
Pluckley is often referred to as the most haunted village in England and rightfully so. Of their 1000 residents about 15 are ghosts. Because of all of the paranormal activity in the area many different paranormal investigator shows have travelled to the tiny village. Some of the spectral visits include distant screams from women and men believed to have been lost in the expansive forest at one point in the past. But the scariest ghost of the village resides at St. Nicholas Church and goes by the name ‘Red Lady’. The story says that she haunts the grounds looking for her stillborn baby. The woman is believed to be buried in a lead coffin on the premises. Inside of the church guests will find the ‘White Lady’, a ghost who was said to have lived on site in 1952 before her home was destroyed by a fire. There is no documented reason why Pluckley is a site for paranormal activity but we’re pretty sure that’s a church we’re not visiting any time soon.
13 The Church Of St. Mary The Virgin - Clophill, United Kingdom
Two paranormal investigators visited The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Clophill to discover if there were in fact ghosts on the premises. What they caught was a real spectral monk on camera in the middle of the day. When the pair followed the figure the doors were locked and the church was completely empty. The structure is around 400 years old and was abandoned in 1848 when a larger church was built for citizens of the area. This church sat unattended for many years until the mid-60s when hoodlums desecrated graves with satanic graffiti. In this attack, the human remains of someone who was an apothecary in 1770 were exhumed and placed on a crude altar with the skull impaled on a spike. The coffin of the deceased young woman was broken up and scattered among the church ruins. Just six years later on Midsummer’s eve, the graveyard and church were targeted yet again and more graves were dug up and bones were strewn about the church. Thankfully since this time, there have been no more significant strange occurrences.
12 Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia
This historic church was built in 1749 and served as an important place in history throughout the very beginning of the United States of America. The cemetery is just as historic and is home to the graves of many Confederate soldiers who died while in prison camps. Notable worshippers at this establishment range from George Washington himself to George W. Bush and his wife Laura. It is said that over 30 Confederate soldiers are buried there. This church graveyard is famous because ghosts like to pop up in photos for visitors from all over the world. One famous photo captured the face of a ghost but some skeptics argue that it is simply a reflection or superimposition in the photo. Reports have also surfaced of a man in robes seen pacing near the church library and also loud phantom footsteps in the third floor hallway late at night.
11 Borley Church in Essex, United Kingdom
The small stone building known as Borley Church is said to date back to the 11th century but it is said to be a bit less haunted than the former Borley Rectory. Many have claimed to hear organ music playing and ghostly chanting while in the church. Famous paranormal investigator Ed Warren claims to have accidentally snapped a photo of a monk reading through a bible at this haunted site. While some actually spotted a nun roaming through the courtyard garden with her head hung in despair. Ghost stories from the Borley Church and the Borley Rectory almost always date back to the Benedictine monastery era in 1863 and have continued to manifest since. In the late ‘20s a reporter from the Daily Mirror was sent and did a series of stories on the strange, ghostly happenings on the church property.
10 Most Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, New York
This church is not only a Brooklyn landmark, it might be the most haunted site in the New York. The modern structure was completed in the 1880s but the school building of the church was built on top of a funeral ground. Now many believe that spirits from the cemetery haunt the school as there have been reports of disembodied feet and flickering lights. Some even hear strange voices coming from the school’s auditorium. There are other ghosts on the property as well in the church’s belfry. This includes bell ringer George Steltz who was butchered by burglars in a time when the church was made up predominantly of the German Catholic population. While he was dying he left handprints in his own blood on the walls of the vestibule. Many people feel uncomfortable when in the vestibule and sometimes they hear ghostly bells ringing in the church.
9 Old Rock Church in St. Olaf, Texas
Also known as St. Olaf Kirke, the sleepy town where this haunted church lives still looks pretty similar to 1886 when the structure was built. Today the church serves as a historical landmark and one of the few pieces of history left from the Norwegian settlers who helped found the area. Old Rock Church in St. Olaf Kirke was used for services until 1917 when a nearby town was built. Like most rural churches the graveyard continues to house the dead despite the structure being unused. Spectral figures are often seen roaming around the graveyard at night but the most unusual stories at this church come by way of disembodied voices. Generally when the music is being played in the church visitors will hear these voices booming through the small chapel. At least thankfully so far none of these ghosts have been malevolent.
8 Egg Hill Church in Centre County, Pennsylvania
The church known as Egg Hill sits in Centre County in the heart of Pennsylvania. It is a one story building that was built in 1860, Egg Hill church is made completely from pine and built on a stone foundation. It was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1979 and speaking of history, it has quite the haunted past. The urban legend surrounding this church centers on a mad (or possessed depending on who you ask) minister who poisoned his entire adult congregation one fated Halloween night while the children played just downstairs. It is then said that as people died one by one the minister carried them into the yard and buried each and every parishioner. He or she (this detail also depends on who you ask) then disposed of all of the children before committing suicide. The ghosts that haunt this church are said to be that of the minister and his congregation, longing to live their lives that were so brutally cut short.
7 Norwich Cathedral in England
In August of 2015 a visitor at the Norwich Cathedral in England claimed to have captured a photo of a bishop wandering the outdoor corridor of the historic building. The figure wasn’t there when the visitor was taking the photo, however, after looking at his camera the man noticed a bishop in the full hat and robes. It is reported that many bishops are buried on the premises in the graveyard, making this ghost a serious possibility. Building the cathedral first began in 1096 and it was constructed out of flint and mortar before being faced with limestone. It was finally finished in 1145 but there were many rebuilds necessary in the next 300 years to fortify the structure. Since 1480 there have been few fundamental rebuilds on the Norwich Cathedral. It is also home to the second largest cloisters in England after Salisbury Cathedral.
6 St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana
This notable landmark features three steeples and overlooks Jackson Square. Another landmark feature is the statue of Andrew Jackson atop his horse which is in the main courtyard. The cemetery on site is said to be the final resting place of VooDoo queen Marie Laveau so it draws tourists all year long who have come to see her famous grave. There are many other prominent figures from New Orleans culture buried in this French Quarter hallowed ground, and although her body isn’t on the premises there is a placard for Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie. It is said that the cathedral is haunted by Fr. Antonio de Sedella whose body is buried within the church. Many believe that he walks the alley of the church named for him in the early mornings, and others have reported seeing him next to the altar during Christmas mass. The other frequent ghost at the St. Louis Cathedral is Pere Dagobert, a monk who lived there. Some believe that they see him chanting Kyrie on rainy days.
5 Chapel of the Cross in Mannsdale, Mississippi
A historical red brick church was originally a house of worship for the Johnstone family from the Annandale Plantation. Everything else on the property outside of the church, including the giant mansion, burned to the ground after the family had passed on. The ghost stories surrounding the property have been reported on in multiple books and have become the stuff of legends. One ghost said to inhabit the property is a former governess from the Annandale mansion dating back to 1860 until the mansion burned down in 1924. The other pair of spectral visitors are Helen Johnstone and her fiance Henry Grey Vick. He passed away in a duel before their marriage and was brought back to the Annandale mansion and buried on the premises. Many believe that they see the ghost of Helen crying over the grave of her beloved. Talk about creepy!
4 St. Andrews in Staten Island, New York
The congregation was founded in 1708 and their church was built between 1712 and 1713. This original structure withstood a lot of damage but was rebuilt in a gothic style in 1872. The graveyard alongside the church is the final resting place of many of the big historic names of Staten Island. It was designated a New York City landmark in the National Register of Historic Places in 1967. The Eastern Paranormal Investigation Center investigated St. Andrews Episcopal Church in 2008. At one point the candle in the tabernacle began moving as if there was a heavy wind when there wasn’t one. Similarly, the giant (and hard to move) chimes began to move all on their own. The ghost hunters were never able to explain what happened that night. Ghosts or not the church proprietors are embracing the spooky atmosphere. They host an annual haunted house with new themes every year so children can enjoy the atmosphere and their holiday.
3 Adams Grove Presbyterian Church in Dallas County, Alabama
This church was built in 1853 but it is now privately owned. The church was formed five years after the first person was buried in the cemetery. An active congregation worshiped there until 1974 and it is now listed on the National Historic Registry. The congregation was baptist while they were still meeting here. Like most historic churches with a cemetery there are many reports that this place of worship is haunted. Some people report visits from a Confederate soldier that orders them off of the property. Others have been visited by what they believe to be a spectral minister dressed all in black. There have been various specials on television where paranormal researchers visit this property but nothing has been conclusive as of yet. We are sure it is only going to be a matter of time, after all, just look how spooky the place looks!
2 St. Paul’s Chapel in New York, New York
This small building is located in Lower Manhattan in New York City, it was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. When it was completed the structure was the tallest in New York City. The church remains a very active Parish of Trinity Church, they hold services, have weekday concerts, provide shelter for the homeless, and even the occasional lecture. St. Paul’s Chapel is also the burial place for George Frederick Cooke who was a famous British actor who passed away in 1812 but was buried without his head. Since his death the actor is seen on the premises searching for his head, the root of another urban legend. Some sources claim that the head of George Frederick Cooke was used in a stage production of the famous Shakespeare place Hamlet, whereas others reported that he donated his skull to science to pay medical bills. Wherever his head ended up, the ghost of this actor continues searching for it throughout the church courtyard.
1 Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
Modeled in a modern English Gothic style of the 14th Century, the Washington National Cathedral is the sixth-largest in the world and the second largest cathedral in the United States. They have daily visitors and a large attendance for mass on Sundays. In 1946 the Neo-Gothic monolith structure suffered a fire in the library that took some innocent souls. When people visit down there they often report feelings of uneasiness and also that they’re being watched. There is also a famous ghost rumored to stay at the Washington National Cathedral. Woodrow Wilson is buried in the cemetery and often times he is seen roaming the halls of the cathedral. Many also report hearing him tapping his cane against the walls. The historical building is bound to carry some urban legends, but we wouldn't recommend checking it out in person anytime soon!
Sources: ghostsandgravestones.com, thesun.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk
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