Take a break with a difference in the ghostly Garden of England

Haunted Castles are Best Avoided at NightCredit: Steve KnightThe county of Kent in south-east England doesn’t lack its share of history. As the traditional port of entry to medieval Britain, many famous people have taken part in events that shaped the country’s future. Today, castles and historic buildings can be found in many Kentish towns, but the people involved are long gone – or are they? Many locals believe that the ghosts of long-dead figures still walk through the corridors of haunted houses in Kent.

The village of Pluckley, near Ashford, is widely believed to be the most haunted village in England. Although undoubtedly picturesque, after dark its pubs, farms and fields take on a more sinister character. Up to 12 different ghosts have been reported in and around Pluckley, and mysterious floating orbs are often seen in the village graveyard. The nearby Screaming Woods are best avoided at night ...

Ightham Mote near Canterbury, a moated manor house that dates from the 14th century, is home to the ghost of Dame Dorothy Selby, who in 1605 warned her cousin, Lord Monteagle, about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. Angry at being betrayed, supporters of the conspirators seized Dame Dorothy and walled her up in a small room in the tower of the house. In 1872, workmen discovered her skeleton when investigating a “cold area” of the house. The cold sensation is still evident today.

Rochester Castle, built in 1080 on the site of a Roman camp, has an equally grisly secret. In 1264, during an attack on the castle by the King’s enemies, Lady Blanche de Warenne, wife-to-be of the King’s commander, Ralph de Capo, was killed by an arrow that pierced her heart. Her ghost walks the ruins of the castle, with the arrow still protruding from her chest, and is said to appear every Easter on the anniversary of the battle.

Not for the fainthearted is a visit to Chislehurst Caves, a labyrinthine network of passages deep below the town itself. The caves are believed to be more than 8,000 years old, and the three main sections date from Druid, Saxon and Roman times. A Haunted Pool lies deep within the caves, and the ghost of a mysterious Lady in White has been reported as “floating across the surface” of the pool on several occasions. If you’re feeling brave, join one of the regular night-walks for ghost hunters.

Ruins of a Haunted ChurchCredit: Sean JohnsonReculver Towers, near Herne Bay, are the remains of the medieval church of St Mary’s, and are believed to be haunted by the ghosts of young children who wail and weep at night. These theories are supported by the discovery of children’s skeletons during excavations in the 1960s, possibly the remains of sacrificial victims entombed in the foundations of the original building. Locals also report seeing the ghostly figures of two nuns and hearing the sound of ghostly galloping horses late at night.

You’re not safe on the road either – in 1992, three separate motorists driving at night on Blue Bell Hill near Maidstone reported that a young woman had walked into the road and disappeared under the wheels of their cars. Police investigations showed no signs of an accident, and locals believe that the woman is the ghost of a bride-to-be killed at the same spot in 1965 – on the night before her wedding. Drivers have also reported picking up a mysterious female hitchhiker who simply disappears from the rear seats of the car.

Wherever in the county you are staying, you can’t avoid meeting one of Kent’s famous ghosts. You are sure to enjoy visiting the many attractions, historic buildings and pubs in Kent – just make sure you take plenty of garlic and some holy water if you plan to venture out at night.