Cornwall has stunning beaches and beautiful coastlines. That now attracts thousands of people to the picturesque part of England every year. This same wild landscape has led to the county being a hotbed for shipwrecks and smuggling. Which has led to tales of ghosts and other paranormal activity!
In addition, the fact that Cornwall is surrounded by myths and legends has attracted holidaymakers to the county for years too. Such as the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor, who murders sheep and other livestock. And the myth that the ghost of Merlin lives in a cave beneath the castle in Tintagel.
According to Cornwall Live, Devon and Cornwall Police explained that they were called to reports of vampires drinking their own blood. And even ghosts trying to steal a man’s chips or zombies in the street and other terrifying ghouls. This was revealed as part of a Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request by Devon Live in 2018. And the 38 ‘paranormal’ incidents reported took place between 2013 and 2017. According to the force, all but one of the calls were made by people with mental health issues. And one was made by someone who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
With this in mind, here’s a list of the most haunted places by ghosts in Cornwall.
Jamaica Inn, Launceston
Originally built as a coaching house in 1750. The Jamaica Inn is the most famous of all. With a colourful history as a smuggler’s den, the inn is classed as one of the most haunted places in the whole of the UK.
‘Resident’ ghosts include a malevolent highwayman in a three-cornered hat who walks through locked doors. This eerie character is often seen walking through the doorways. And a murdered young smuggler who paces around the courtyard in the middle of the night. Daphne DuMaurier’s famous novel about the inn, later made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock, focuses on its colourful history as a smuggler’s den.
In other words, many spirits haunt it. One of its creepiest spirits, the mirror ghost, is staying in room 5, according to Urban Ghosts. “Located in room 5 of the building. The ghost is said to be that of a small child trapped behind the glass. Sometimes, the spectre appears with its anguished young mother.”
The inn has long been associated with ghosts. Many guests reported strange incidents. But Jamaica Inn actually featured in the TV programme Most Haunted. And producers said it was one of their spookiest episodes ever recorded after filming.
Pengersick Castle, Penzance
Cornwall’s castles are always a popular stop-off for visitors down on holiday, and one of the most well-known castles in the county is Pengersick Castle.
There is evidence of five thousand years of history at Pengersick Castle, which is just inland from the beach at Praa Sands. The oldest remaining structure is a four-storey tower that dates back to the sixteenth century and was part of an extensive, fortified Tudor manor that belonged to the notorious Pengersick family. The Pengersick’s were well known for their murderous exploits. Especially those of their Patriarch, Henry Pengersick, who was to all intents and purposes something of a psychopath.
Henry’s young wife, Engrina who he had chosen simply because she was the daughter of a family who owned the adjoining estate and he had plans to expand his empire by one day inheriting their lands too, is said to haunt the castle too. She roams the castle but has a particular affinity for the master bedroom. Guests staying in this room frequently report waking in the early hours to see a ghostly woman staring out of the window.
The castle has featured on many TV programmes and in books and other forms of media as a result of its reputation. Pengersick Castle is so renowned that The Paranormal Research Organisation and the British Ghost Club Society have all conducted research at the castle.
The Crow’s Nest Inn, Liskeard
It is located in Liskeard, is also believed to be haunted by its former landlord, Norman Jeffery.
Although he has never been directly sighted. He has apparently made his presence known in other ways. Such as with sudden drops in temperature at the table nearest to the fireplace. The resident ghost has also been detected on cameras and mobile phones, even apparently feeding the ghostly outline of a dog in one instance.
Visitors to The Crow’s Nest Inn have, in the past, seen four different ghosts sighted at the pub on the edge of Bodmin Moor.
These sightings have included the spirit ‘Eddie’, which is believed to be the ghost of the former landlord, Edward Charles Murch, who had been in charge in the early 1900s and died behind the bar at the age of 72. The inn is also known for its spooky clock – it runs 10 minutes fast.
More mystery happened when the new landlady, on only her second day, saw a pint of ale fly off the bar and onto the floor without any human intervention.
Bodmin Moor, Bodmin Moor
The bleak, windswept landscape of Bodmin Moor is imbued with more than a fair share of myths and legends. At Dozmary Pool, said to harbour King Arthur’s sword. The ghost of the hapless Tregeagle can still be heard howling across the moors.
While the ghost of Charlotte Dymond, murdered by her crippled lover, is regularly seen on the slopes of Roughtor clad in a gown and a silk bonnet. Hard evidence exists of a huge, black, panther-like cat, known as the Beast of Bodmin Moor, which has been seen more than sixty times and is given to savaging livestock in the dead of night.
Surprisingly, Bodmin Moor has been used as a filming location in the newest adaptation for the Poldark series.
Bodmin Jail, Bodmin
Bodmin Jail was built by prisoners in the 18th century on the order of Henry VIII. Famous for the hugely popular and well-attended public hangings that took place outside until 1862. The jail is popular, having been turned into a museum with information about notable prisoners and details about their grisly crimes and sentences on display alongside the cells.
Even just glimpsed from the road, Bodmin Jail is a creepy place. Descend into the cold and gloomy underground passages.A ghost named Selina Wedge glides through the jail in a dress at night. Selina was believed to have killed her youngest son in exchange for marriage, only to be jilted at the very end, as the man didn’t want her after all. It is said that her loud cries echo through the walls.
It is clear why the jail was chosen to be part of a recent TV series about the most haunted places in Britain.
Chapel Street, Penzance
Chapel Street is the oldest street in Penzance and stuffed with historical buildings. Including four pubs, each with a tale to tell. The Union Hotel shelters the remains of the oldest Georgian theatre in the country. As well as the town’s original assembly room, built in 1791. The Regent is one of the oldest buildings in Penzance. A former temperance hall that dates back four hundred years. The Turk’s Head, a little further down the street, is the oldest pub in Penzance. While the Benbow, named after a famous 17th-century admiral. Is decorated with authentic cannons and figureheads brought up by divers from local wrecks. Look out for the figure of a smuggler with a gun lying on the roof.
Kennal Vale, Truro
It is a hidden valley nestling in the countryside between Redruth and Falmouth. Kennal Vale was once home to one of the largest and most complete gunpowder works to be found anywhere in Britain. Producing explosives for use in the nearby mines.
It’s now managed as a nature reserve by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Rusty, moss-coated water-wheels, broken millstones and the creepy ruins of massive granite mill buildings all help to create an atmosphere charged with history.
Information boards detail an appalling accident that occurred in 1838 when five mill buildings blew up in succession. Part of a roof was found a mile from the premises. And one man died of his injuries, leaving a widow and ten children. Apparently, a gentleman named William Dunstan, who died in the explosion leaving his wife and ten children, as a result, haunts the area.
Pendennis Castle, Outside of Falmouth
Pendennis Castle, just outside Falmouth. This 17th-century castle was built by Henry VIII as a safe place to protect the Carrick Roads when the French and Spanish invaded. However, the enemy used the castle to trap the royalists for six months. With nothing to eat, the royalists were forced to eat their own horses and dogs until they chose to surrender.
It is believed that you can hear the piercing screams of a kitchen maid who fell to her death while carrying a tray of food. As have strange footsteps on a staircase that no longer leads anywhere.
Tintagel Castle, Tintagel
Tintagel Castle is home to the ruins of a twelfth-century castle with strong mythical associations to King Arthur. And at least five well-known ghosts. Three of these reside at the Camelot Castle Hotel. Indulging in such activities as throwing paintings from the walls. Waking people up in the dead of night to give them a bed bath. And going through the hotel’s bins.
A fourth is a former employee of the hotel, who died about seventy years ago. And can often be seen walking along the path to the hotel from his cottage. It was once owned by Kate Winslet. Tintagel Castle itself is set on a dramatic headland under which lurks a dark, dank cave thought to be haunted by the ghost of Merlin, King Arthur’s mentor. Some people have reported seeing and hearing Merlin talk in a language that is foreign to all. He is said to live in a cave just underneath the castle.
Prideaux Place, Near Padstow
Prideaux Place, near Padstow, is an Elizabethan manor house completed in 1592. It has been in the Prideaux-Brune family ever since.
Three ghosts are believed to be residents here. There’s the kitchen boy whose ghostly figure has never left the room. He can be seen running around the room. And the ghost of a woman dressed in nineteenth-century clothes who sits and sews in the morning room.
There is also the ghost of Humphrey Prideaux’s wife, Honor Fortescue, who couldn’t cope with being a widower and so threw herself off the upper balcony. She has been known to wear a green dress, and scare visitors out of their bedrooms ever since.
Wheal Coates, Near Saint Agnes
The mine at Wheal Coates, near St Agnes, goes all the way down to the sea. It can be heard crashing against the rocks through a grate in the floor of the ruined Towanroath engine house. Probably the most famous industrial building in Cornwall.
The mine shaft is accessible at low tide through a large cave at the far end of Chapel Porth beach. Legend has it that the mine is haunted by the ghosts of the many miners who died there working in extreme and dangerous conditions.
St. Austell Brewery, Saint Austell
St. Austell Brewery is famed for brewing fine ales and award-winning cask and bottled ales such as Tribute.
But the brewery itself is believed to be haunted by the ghost of its founder, Walter Hicks. Tales about wafts of cigar smoke drifting from the brewhouse late at night and footsteps coming downstairs are common stories.
Visitors can take a tour of the brewery and have a drink in the Hicks Bar. Where you may be able to feel the presence of Mr Hicks himself!
The Ship Inn, Mevagissey
It is said that The Ship Inn has a guardian angel in the ghost of former landlady Lil Barron. A photograph of the landlady had been placed above the bar for years and years until it mysteriously vanished one day in 2012. After that, the pub flooded regularly until the photograph was found and reinstated to its former home.
Since the photograph was returned. The Ship Inn has not been flooded and was unscathed during three floods that left the rest of the village underwater.
Cultural Significance in Anthropology
From the bleak bogs and lonely paths of Bodmin Moor to the creaking old corridors and secret passages of Pendennis Castle, nothing gets the goosebumps raised more than hearing about a haunted place in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s wild landscape and history of wrecking and smuggling lend themselves to tales of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. Myths and legends abound, from the ghost of Merlin, said to inhabit a creepy cave beneath Tintagel Castle, to the Beast of Bodmin Moor, accused of savaging livestock in the dead of night.