Greetings Hoogly fans! One of the most exciting times of the year will soon be upon us; a period rich in history and tradition; a night packed with mischief and mystery. For some, it is a bit of good fun; for others, an unsettling plunge into the dark side. I’m talking, of course, about Halloween! As a child, I used to adore heading out into the crisp October chill in one of my many disguises, including Batman, Count Dracula, Spiderman and various Victorian ghosts. Knocking on people’s doors and collecting chocolate seemed like an excellent way to spend an evening (it still does) but I don’t have any children of my own, and it seems extremely weird to borrow some for this purpose, or to trick-or-treat alone as an adult. One time during my childhood, however, there was some actual horror amidst all the fun. After collecting a hatful of sweets, I felt a pang of hunger and decided to unwrap a few chocolates and gorge to my heart’s content. It turned out that one of the sweet treats was not chocolate, but some kind of hard candy, which proceeded to chip my tooth and subsequently cut my gum. So, with very real blood dribbling down my chin, I returned to the nearest house, arms outstretched in panic, slapping a doorbell until a strange adult opened up and (after jumping back in shock) allowed me to come in and use the bathroom and get cleaned up. My friends were delighted with my antics, and it was clear that I had ‘won’ Halloween that year (as the kids say these days). I was in pain for a month afterwards, though, and I ended up with a tooth that was more werewolf than human (which is still prone to savaging my cheek from time to time), but I guess this is an adequate price to pay for a gob full of blood and some genuine scares on the spookiest night of the year!
To get you all the mood for the big day, we at Hoogly have cobbled together some of the most genuinely creepy places in the UK, to be avoided all costs if you are afraid of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night.
1. Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire. This 12th century inn is purportedly ‘the most haunted house in Britain,’ having apparently been witness to suicide, child sacrifice, black magic and been used as a hideout for criminals. Visitors have claimed to have seen or felt the presence of a pair of demons, orbs, a witch and many other apparitions. Even hardened fans of the supernatural have admitted the Ram Inn is the scariest place they’ve ever visited.
2. Borley Rectory, Essex. This Victorian Mansion first gained a spooky reputation in the 1860s when footsteps were heard during the night; in subsequent years the ghost of a nun, a pair of headless horsemen, a ghostly carriage and phantom servant bells have all been reported. The rectory’s hauntings came to prominence in 1929 when famed paranormal investigator Harry Price and the Daily Mail covered the strange goings-on. In a further twist, the building was sadly destroyed by fire in 1939.
3. Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon. A picturesque castle in a pretty town harbouring a sinister secret! Two female spirits, The White Lady and the Blue Lady, stalk the halls of the old structure. The White Lady is said to haunt the dungeons; The Blue Lady is reported to haunt the tower, luring strangers to her aid, resulting in a lethal plunge if the passer-by intervenes.
4. Ballygally Castle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The castle dates to 1625 and is steeped in history. Lady Isobel Shaw fell to her death more than 400 years ago after her husband (Lord James Shaw) locked her up for failing to produce a son. Isobel’s tragic fall occurred during an escape attempt. It is said that her ghost wanders the hotel to this day, wrapping on doors, as well as appearing and vanishing in rooms. Madame Nixon, a 19th century inhabitant of the castle, has also been seen and heard roaming the castle in her silk dress. Some visitors also claim to hear the running and giggling of ghostly children.
5. Pluckley Village, Kent. Pluckley has featured on many television programmes and is a popular haunt for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts from around the UK. Guinness World Records 1989 named it the most haunted village in England, having as it does between 12 and 16 ghosts, including a screaming man, the Fright Corner highwayman, a school teacher found hung by a group of kids, and an old smoking woman on a bridge. Visit if you dare!
And what can possibly keep us safe from places of death, misdeeds and horror? Well, nothing, sadly. But a nice cup of tea will help. We heartily recommend Around the Fire Oolong tea for the frosty chill of late October. One of our customer favourites, this gorgeous brew is a cosy combination of smoky tea leaves and warming spices, licked by flames of safflower and sprinkled with crushed chilli for a hint of fiery charm. It’s the perfect shield against the creeping draughts of winter, ideal for winding down at the end of the day, as well as faithful and delicious companion as you watch late-night horror movies or read some spine-tingling ghost stories!
That’s it for now, tea lovers. Stay safe and have a horrific…I mean happy…Halloween!!
Written by Chris Bedford