9 Haunted Places in Essex
Stewart | On 15, Mar 2017
The Red Lion Hotel, Colchester
The 15th century Grade I listed Red Lion Hotel situated along Colchester’s High Street is probably the most infamous hotel in the town.
It’s said to be haunted by not one but three ghosts!
The ghost of a small boy, a monk and a lady called Alice Catherine Millar are said to haunt the Red Lion…
Terrified witnesses have been reporting seeing the ghostly apparition of Alice Catherine Millar as far back as the 1800s.
Alice was believed to been a chambermaid who worked at the Red Lion.
In 1638, she was said to have been brutally murdered by her lover in the hotel.
One of the past owners of the Red Lion was so frightened that the stories of the hotel being haunted by Alice’s ghost would affect trade that he bricked up her old room to try and stop her haunting the building.
Unfortunately for him it didn’t work…
Her ghost is still seen to this very day in the hotel!
Both guests and members of staff have witnessed her ghostly apparition in the hotel’s kitchen and in Rooms 5, 6 and 10.
Her ghost has even been seen by terrified witnesses to disappearing through one of the walls where the old bricked up doorway to her room was once situated.
The assistant manager of the hotel on one occasion even saw her sitting in an old rocking chair rocking backwards and forwards before disappearing.
Other hotel members of staff have been frightened by hearing Alice whispering or even talking to them.
Having their hair pulled by an unseen entity is regularly reported by scared guests staying at the Red Lion.
An unknown woman’s voice was once mysteriously recorded on a video tape shot in one of the hotels rooms by a shocked guest.
Another ghostly apparition seen at the Red Lion is that of a hooded monk…
He’s often witnessed in the early hours of the morning walking along the hotel’s corridors.
Sometimes he magically appears in the Red Lion’s reception area.
He’s sad story dates back a few centuries.
It’s said that he was in charge of some children when a bad fire broke out in the hotel.
He perished in the fire whilst trying to save the children!
And last but by no means least, the final ghost believed to haunt this historic hotel is that of a small boy…
It’s normally children who witness the ghostly apparition of this little boy.
They often see him in the Parliament Restaurant which was once the old Banqueting Hall.
The little boy’s ghost has even been caught on camera by shocked guest when they have taken photos in the Parliament Restaurant!
Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury
If you remember, during the Most Haunted investigation at Coalhouse Fort, the main paranormal action took place in the tunnels below the perimeter wall.
These tunnels are very active indeed…
People have been scared stiff by hearing creepy footsteps following them into the tunnels.
They’ve also reported the sounds of something heavy being dragged along the tunnel floor as well as ghostly voices and unexplained children’s laughter.
One night whilst repairing the tunnels, volunteers heard phantom voices echoing along the tunnel of men playing a ghostly game of poker!
Other visitors to the fort have seen strange apparitions and unearthly entities whilst they walked the dark tunnels.
Some witnesses have even seen dark figures walk towards them and then just simply vanish into thin air.
Others have described being touched by unseen hands whilst they walked in the dimly lit tunnels.
In fact, some have even sworn blind that they were roughly man-handled by some unknown force or forces!
You may be surprised to hear that the tunnels are not the only paranormally active place within the fort.
It’s said that the washrooms are haunted by an evil poltergeist nicknamed Harry.
Saying Harry doesn’t like people being in the washrooms… is an understatement!
Stones and light bulbs, and on some occasion’s even heavy chairs, have all been seen to be violently thrown across the room.
Colchester Castle, Colchester
The Grade I listed Colchester Castle is a fine example of a complete Norman castle.
The castle was ordered to be constructed by William the Conqueror in 1069.
It’s built on the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius which dates back to AD 60!
Now, you would think with its Norman and Roman roots, that the castle’s ghostly tale would be from one of those eras…
In fact, the castle’s ghost story involves a Quaker!
In 1656 a Quaker called James Parnell was arrested and imprisoned in Colchester Castle for an incident which happened in Coggleshall Church…
You see at this time in history Colchester Castle was used as a county prison.
Well, the story goes that James was praying in Coggleshall Church when a commotion ensued resulting in him being arrested for blasphemy and other offences.
He was acquitted of the charges but the Magistrate still fined him £40.
Now, this is where it starts to turn from bad to worse for poor James.
He refused to pay the fine which resulted in him being returned to the prison at Colchester Castle.
Nicholas Roberts was the gaoler at the castle at the time and he was a nasty piece of work.
He was infamous for his cruelty to the prisoners put in his care.
And poor James was no exception!
He forced him to climb a rope to get his food.
Well, one day the inevitable happen.
James fell from the rope and was badly injured.
For then on he couldn’t climb the rope to get his food resulting in his health deteriorating quickly.
On 10th April 1656 he tragically died.
It’s now said that his poor tormented ghost haunts the castle to this very day!
In the 1930s a local man took on a foolish bet for £200 that he couldn’t stay the whole night locked in the haunted Colchester Castle…
The bet was that he would be locked in the castle from 8.00pm until 8.00am the next morning.
At 8.00pm he was locked in the castle and left alone to spend the night there.
A couple of hours later a passer-by noticed a distressed man running around on top of the castle’s roof trying to get attention.
The fire brigade were called and the man was brought down in one piece.
The poor man was a total gibbering wreck!
In fact, he was in such a distressed state that a doctor was quickly called to sedate him.
He was taken to Severalls psychiatric hospital where he sadly died a few months later.
Harwich Redoubt Fort, Harwich
One of the most common apparitions to be witnessed by visitors to Harwich Redoubt Fort is that of a headless soldier.
It’s said that a tragic accident happened when a cable attached to a heavy cannon snapped and decapitated a nearby soldier!
Since that shocking event, a gruesome vision of a headless soldier with his severed head tucked under his arm has been seen wandering around the grounds of the fort.
The headless soldier is not the only ghost to be seen at the Redoubt.
Visitors have seen an apparition of a shabby looking man and shadowy figures have been witnessed peering through the fort’s windows.
Another frequent paranormal event which tends to involve people visiting in the lower casements of the fort is the feeling of ghostly hands touching them.
A lot of audio paranormal activity also seems to occur at the Harwich Redoubt Fort.
Mysterious noises, unexplained footsteps, low mumblings, eerie whistling and distant voices have all been heard at the fort.
One common ghostly sound heard by the staff of the Redoubt is that of a women’s voice talking!
Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, Kelvedon Hatch
The bunker was once a very secret place but today it’s a tourist attraction and is opened to the public for most of the year…
So, it’s not so secret anymore!
The bunker was originally built in 1952/53 as an air defence station but then became a Home Office Regional Seat of Government and then a Regional Government Head Quarters or RGHQ until the 1990s.
Heavens forbid, but if there was a nuclear strike upon the UK, the RGHQs were responsible for government operations and helping whoever was left alive after the nuclear strike.
After the 1990s, the threat of a nuclear attack upon the UK diminished and the bunker was decommissioned and sold back to the original family who had owned the land in the 1950s.
Upon arrival, you access the bunker by entering a run of the mill looking bungalow which is nestled amongst some trees.
The bunker is actually 125 feet underground and you enter it by an eerie tunnel from the bungalow.
There are three underground floors to the bunker which is designed to be able to house up to six hundred people…
Although, I personally wouldn’t like to be down there with that many people!
The bunker is well equipped with its own air conditioning, heating and water supply.
It was designed to keep its inhabitants protected for up to three months until the radiation levels in the outside world were safe enough to venture out in.
Now you may be thinking that the bunker isn’t an ancient monument or an old coaching inn and thank God it was never used for its intended purpose…
So, how in hell can it be haunted then?
Well, there’s couple of theories why it’s so active.
First, it’s believed that the bunker was built close to a Bronze Age site and also a Roman burial site.
Some believe that these ancient sites were disturbed when the bunker was constructed and this may be just one of the causes to some of the paranormal activity which takes place within its walls.
The second theory is that of the missing foreman.
The walls of the bunker are solid concrete and there’s a story that when the walls were being constructed the foreman’s hat was found floating on wet concrete and the foreman was never seen again.
Some say that he was accidently buried alive within the concrete walls!
Could he be one of the ghosts in the bunker?
Although it was never used for its intended purpose, in its heyday the bunker was a busy place with military personnel being posted underground for up to two weeks at a time… especially in its early years!
Some believe that the bunker ghosts are indeed dedicated military personnel returning from the grave to once again keep the place operational in case of a nuclear strike.
Several ghostly apparitions have been seen regularly deep underground within the concrete walls of the bunker.
A spooky grey figure has been seen wondering from room to room.
Terrified witnesses have strangely described the ghostly figure as an unusually tall elderly lady.
You may not be surprised when I tell you that ghosts of military personnel are a common sight.
One is of an RAF officer and the other is of a uniformed woman who shouts at scared witnesses to leave immediately.
The sick bay is one of the bunker’s more active rooms.
Frightened witnesses have seen dark shadows moving around the room… some believe that it’s a malevolent presence!
Other paranormal activity which has been reported from the haunted nuclear bunker includes stone throwing, loud crashes, banging, growling noises, rotten smells and strange lights and mists suddenly appearing!
Old House, Rochford
Along Rochford’s South Street there’s a Grade I listed building belonging to Rochford District Council called the Old House.
The timber framed Main Hall part of the Old House dates back to the 13th century!
The locals say that this house is haunted, very haunted…
In fact, it’s rumoured that there may be up to six ghosts in Rochford’s Old House.
A paranormal investigation which was covered by the local rag claimed that the spirits in the Old House are a Puritan woman, an Edwardian child, a maid, a medieval man and a little Victorian girl!
The Chief Executive office seems to have a residential ghost all of its own…
The spirit is said to be that of an elderly man who likes to sit in one of the chairs.
He’s been witnessed in the office by terrified cleaning staff and the Chief Executive himself!
Stansted Mountfitchet Castle, Stansted Mountfitchet
The original Mountfitchet Castle was built after the Norman conquest of 1066 on the spot of an Iron Age Fort by Robert Gernon who was the Duke of Boulogne.
The Gernon family later changed their name to Mountfitchet, hence… Mountfitchet Castle!
Around 1215, King John wanted revenge on the rebel barons. He destroyed many castles belonging to them.
Sadly this included Mountfitchet Castle.
In the 1980s, a Norman ringwork and bailey fortification was reconstructed as a tourist attraction on the spot of the former Mountfitchet Castle.
So, as you can see, the castle grounds have a long history which in my opinion tends to lead to the odd ghost or two popping up…
And, Mountfitchet Castle is no exception!
You see, the family who own the castle have been putting up with poltergeist activity for many decades.
Shockingly, it’s said that the family’s young children were often moved and placed under tables by an unknown entity whilst they slept at night.
Since the opening of the castle to the public, reports of paranormal activity have gone through the roof…
Most of the activity takes place inside the Grand Hall located within the Inner Bailey and the office above the castle shop.
In 2010, a photograph of a ghostly apparition was taken inside the Grand Hall by a time delay camera set up after the night watchman commented of feeling uneasy whilst patrolling that area.
You can check out the ghostly photo on the castle’s website!
Temperature drops, eerie voices, the clashing of swords, spooky chanting and the sound of a medieval flute playing have all been reported in the vicinity of the Grand Hall.
A ghostly chainmail clad knight and a faceless cloaked monk have been witnessed by terrified staff and visitors.
The ghostly apparition of the knight tends to be seen in the late afternoon whilst the spooky monk has only been seen in the dead of night.
In the office above the castle shop, startled witnesses have seen a ghostly apparition of a man standing in the doorway.
The staff in the castle shop below have heard phantom footsteps stomping around in the office above their heads.
And, unexplained crashes and bangs have also been reported coming from the office when it was known to be empty!
It’s also been noticed that the castle’s animals tend to avoid the area between the church and the surgeon’s house.
Strangely enough, ghostly orbs have been reported in this area in the middle of the night!
Layer Marney Tower, Nr. Colchester
It’s said that the ghost of Lord Marney is not too happy with how his beloved palace ended up looking… it’s not to his liking!
And, he shows his displeasure by haunting the tower.
It’s been said that an apparition of a man in full armour has been witness climbing the spiral staircase of one of the towers…
Sometimes he’s on foot, but bizarrely some witnesses have seen him climb up the staircase on horseback!
Away from the staircase, there’s another room in the tower which is supposed to be haunted.
Guests and staff alike have heard doors slam shut and have seen a cloaked figure outside the room.
Whether this is also Lord Marney’s ghost nobody knows!
The gardens and grounds of Layer Marney Tower are just as haunted as the main building.
An apparition of a distressed young woman in Victorian clothing has been seen in the grounds of the palace.
Witnesses say that she seems to be looking for someone or something.
Also a ghost of a former gardener has been seen in the same area of the young Victorian lady.
In fact, although the building dates back to the Tudor times, the majority of ghosts seen in the grounds are funnily enough wearing Victorian clothing.
In another part of the grounds there’s a big old barn which actually pre-dates the Tudor Tower.
This barn is believed to be very haunted…
Staff have seen apparitions of former workers still carrying out their daily activities here.
In fact, this is the barn where Stuart from Most Haunted had the lump of firewood thrown at him!
There’s been a lot of documented paranormal activity which has happened at the Tower…
One of the most talked about encounters was experienced by an Australian lady called Vivian Ray Ellis.
She lived at the palace for a couple of years but on her very first night there she got a rude awakening.
She woke up to feel an unearthly pressure on her chest and she saw her bedcovers being yanked off by an unknown force!
This paranormal activity carried on occurring for a couple of nights until she discovered that if she left her bedroom door open, then the ghostly event wouldn’t take place.
The east wing is known for its poltergeist activity.
You see, certain items have been seen to move and the staff at Layer Marney Tower have reported to have found objects stacked up upon each other when they’ve opened up in the morning!
As with the old barn in the grounds, the rest of Layer Marney Tower is reported to be haunted by apparitions of former workers.
It’s said that they seem to be carrying out their daily routines oblivious to their modern day surroundings.
Siege House, Colchester
In 1648 the English Civil War reignited in several parts of Britain.
The town of Colchester was one of those flash points…
The Royalist army were travelling throughout East Anglia trying to drum up support for the King’s army.
At Colchester, a parliamentarian town, they were quickly attacked by a parliamentary force lead by Lord-General Thomas Fairfax.
In the past he’d been successful against the Royalist at Maidstone in Kent by launching a quick full scale attack.
He tried the same tactics at Colchester but the Royalist retreated behind the town’s walls.
This was the beginning of the siege of Colchester!
Now, on East Street in Colchester there’s an old building called Siege House.
Well Siege House is located near the town’s eastern bridge which crosses over the River Colne…
This area saw fierce fighting in the early days of the siege.
Even today you can still see the old musket ball holes in the timbered west and south sides of Siege House.
With such a violent history you’ll probably won’t be too surprised if I told you that Siege House and the surrounding area is said to be haunted by soldiers from the English Civil War!
In the 1990s a ghostly apparition of a cavalier was seen by terrified witnesses walking down East Street and vanishing into thin air when he reached the Siege House.
It’s not only phantom cavaliers which have been seen in this area but apparitions of puritan soldiers have also been witnessed.
One of the rooms in Siege House is said to be so haunted that the restaurant’s members of staff refuse to work in the room on their own…
They always work in pairs!
Carmel King (2009) Haunted Essex. The History Press
Jason Day (2011) Paranormal Essex. The History Press