Is Plymouth the most haunted place in Britain?

Is Plymouth the most haunted place in Britain?

From ghosts in the cinema to apparitions in the city’s cafes and museums, not to mention the former gallows in the heart of the Barbican. Plymouth is a very 'active area', and these are the most haunted spots in the city.

Plymouth is one of the most haunted cities in the country, thanks mainly to its history. The buildings and locations which people see now are not the same as they were throughout Plymouth’s history. Large areas have been completely changed, especially the city centre which was rebuilt after the Blitz. However, history and hauntings remain…

Plymouth’s Devil Point

The legend of Devils Point, at Plymouth Hoe, claims that on this spot Sir Francis Drake employed the services of a coven of witches to summon a storm and smash the Spanish Armada. It is said on a windy night you can still hear their incantations.

Another local legend is of Drake’s Drum, which Sir Francis Drake took sailing with him when he circumnavigated the globe. It soon became an icon for England as Drake became a nationwide hero. When Francis Drake was dying, he ordered that the drum be taken to Buckland Abbey, near Yelverton. It is said that he will return to England when the drum is beaten. But the drum must only be hit when England is in danger. Legend says that when war is declared on England, the beat of his drum can be heard in settlements across Devon.

Ghosts on the Barbican

The Barbican is the epicentre of ghoulish goings-on, in particular, the historic New Street which dates back to the Tudor period. The Elizabethan House, the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms and Shirley Valentine’s Taverna all can boast paranormal activity. From a woman in a long flowing green dress, poltergeists, moaning noises, to a woman in a blue dress telling people it’s “her” house. 

The Barbican Gallows

The gallows used to stand on The Parade at the Barbican, where a black street light now stands, opposite the Blues Bar and Grill. It was a locally renowned site for public hangings. 

The Elizabethan House

The Elizabethan House dates to 1584 and is a restored captain’s dwelling. As part of the Mayflower 400 Celebrations, the Elizabethan House is currently being restored. If you gaze up at the first-floor room window during the day and night, you may see an outline figure of a young girl wearing a white cap and an apron staring back at you, which so many others have reported seeing.

The most famous and well-known story is that of an archaeologist from the Plymouth Museum who had an unexpected experience on a dark, dank October evening in 1983. The gentleman had arrived early to set up and prepare for the evening's lecture. As he entered one of the upper floor rooms, he saw a small wooden child’s cradle rocking from side to side all by itself. It was as if some kind of invisible force was indeed rocking the cradle at a steady pace. By now a number of his guests had started to arrive. He managed to convince a number of them to come to look. The cradle was stationary, and everyone talked amongst themselves joking about the situation. The laughter was cut short and silenced, as the cradle started to rock once again from left to right.

Shirley Valentine’s Taverna

Now the Kapodokya Restaurant, Shirley Valentine’s Taverna has had several purposes over the years. Lots of odd incidents have been reported. When staff have been on their own, they have had the feeling that someone was in the room with them, or someone was coming up the stairs. Glimpses of a person’s outline or the top of someone’s head going down the stairs have also been seen. 

Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin is no stranger to spirits. To the rear of the property on Barbican Lane, it is said that ‘the white lady’ resides here. Reportedly, she used to live in a cottage nearby, but not much else is known about her. People often report the sensation of being pushed from behind or feeling cobwebs on their face. She appears at dusk and emerges out of one wall on the side of the street before disappearing into the wall on the opposite side.

The distillery building has been around since the early 1400s, so it is no surprise that more than one ghost calls it home. Inside the distillery, a ghost called ‘Charles’, who apparently used to work at the site is known to pinch women on the bottom. He is also often sighted up on the upper gantry flicking a cigarette butt. 

Also, a little girl in a historical dress and a hooded figure have also been spotted in the distillery. The area which is now the ladies toilets is also said to be haunted after a tragic event took place there. A lady was brutally stabbed to death in this spot. People have reported feeling ‘pure dread’ in that particular area.

The City Centre

It is believed that the area where the Reel Cinema, Plymouth Athenaeum and Television South West is the site of an ancient burial grounds. One of these old burial grounds was used as the final resting place for many Napoleonic prisoners of war. Frequent tales have been exchanged between security guards at TSW about strange incidents that occurred when on their rounds during the night. One guard, when on patrol, stopped unable to move and he heard a male voice speak in French right behind him.

The Reel Cinema

Plymouth’s Reel Cinema has plenty of claims to fame, including The Beatles playing there in 1963. It is also home to several ghosts, after being erected on the site of the former Theatre Royal. 

Screen Two seems to be one of the most active areas, and a full manifestation of a woman in white has been seen at the back of the room. Another female has been sighted in a particular seat on one of the front rows, wearing a 1940s style dress. People have been left puzzled as the woman vanishes. Customers who have sat in the seat have commented that they felt like they were being watched, uneasy and sometimes becoming quite ill before leaving the screen. 

There is also Emily, a former actress who reportedly committed suicide in one of the dressing rooms of the old theatre, and now haunts the cinema. A strange young man has also been seen walking around. He sits behind someone, but all that can be seen is the seat going down as if someone is sitting there. 

The Minerva Inn

Plymouth’s oldest pub, and reportedly one of Plymouth’s most haunted sites is The Minerva Inn. Dating back to 1540, the pub has played host to a rich history of characters as well as countless colourful incidents. There have been plenty of first-hand experiences of ghosts and ghostly behaviour. These have included a levitating spoon; numerous instances of the cellar gas being turned off; the jukebox playing after it has been switched off; and a small figure standing at the bar. There are other ghostly tales from past landlords and locals of a couple of prostitutes sitting directly under the dartboard where the original entrance door used to be.

A Plymouth man called Eddie Blake reportedly worked as a smuggler and died in the inn in the 17th century. He is said to haunt the place as well as another screaming man. Adding to the rich tapestry of tales associated with The Minerva Inn, in the 17th century the pub was also the home of Plymouth’s ‘press gangs’. Members of these gangs were known to knock drunk men unconscious before taking them through the Barbican’s labyrinth of smugglers’ tunnels to the waiting ships. The men would wake up at sea as the latest naval recruits.

The Royal William Yard

Situated upon 16 acres the Royal William Yard’s primary purpose was as a victualing (food and provisions) depot for the Royal Navy. Work commenced in 1826 with the construction being completed in 1835. Just located off to the right of the entrance was once situated the old Slaughter House and to the left-hand side stood the Old Police House. 

The Parade Ground once housed cattle to await their fate as Bully Beef. It is not uncommon to hear the eerie, ghostly sound of cattle hooves stamping upon old cobbled stone, even though this very area has now been grassed over.

Tales have been told of hearing the sound of material moving up the stairs, such as a woman wearing a long flowing wedding dress, but no one to be seen. Old parlour music but no source of the phantom music player. A police officer in an old-style uniform with a handlebar moustache, as well as gentlemen in old-style naval uniforms. 

Devonport Dockyard

The site has a massive part within Britain’s history, dating back to 1691. Even earlier, the ships of Sir Francis Drake’s fleet set sail from the mouth of the River Plym in 1588 to defeat the ill-fated Spanish Armada.

The South Yard Ropery was a major production centre for rope and cordage for the entire Royal Navy until its partial destruction by the Luftwaffe in March 1941. The Ropemaker’s House is a grade II listed building. Over the years it has gained the reputation for being haunted. Nearby to both the Ropery and Ropemaker’s House is another block of granite-faced buildings erected in 1766. One of the smaller sections is named the Hangman’s Cell and was formerly a Wheelhouse. According to records, it was the scene of the execution of over 100 French prisoners of war from the Napoleonic era. It is alleged that a nail was driven into the wall for each life taken here, with the hangman from Plymouth attending to oversee the gruesome tasks. 

Dartmoor’s Dead Man’s Cross

Here a haunting shadow of a hanging man appears at midday when the sun shines at a spot called Dead Man's Cross. The illusion on the wall of a house at a busy crossroads on a hill just above Dartmouth appears. It is created by the shadows from an accidental juxtaposition of road signs on either side of the lamp post near the town's swimming pool. On the A379 where Milton Lane and Waterpool Road meet.

The image is so haunting that it continues to circulate on social media with many people refusing to believe it is real - or that the crossroads is really called Dead Man's Cross. Local historians have confirmed that hangings were common at Dead Man's Cross in the 1400s. Apparently hanged bodies were left in chains at Dead Man's Cross for days to act as a deterrent.

Courtesy of the

The Demon of Dartmoor

A long-standing legend describes a huge black four-legged monster that lives on Dartmoor. Ask anyone in Plymouth about the Demon of Dartmoor, and they will have a story. To most, it is just a myth, but many local farmers fear it will attack their sheep. The legend goes back as far as the 17th century. It goes that the squire Richard Cabell sold his soul to the Devil. When Cabell died in 1677, a pack of demonic dogs were released into the moor to claim his soul and drag it to Hell. Some still believe they are on the moor, waiting for their next call. The legend is said to have inspired The Hound of the Baskerville. 

The night of his interment saw a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. From that night on, he could be found leading the phantom pack across the moor, usually on the anniversary of his death. If the pack were not out hunting, they could be found around his grave howling and shrieking. In an attempt to lay the soul to rest, the villagers built a large building around the tomb, and to be doubly sure a huge slab was placed over the top.

Do you have any ghost stories from Plymouth?

Whether you are a believer or a sceptic, there are certainly some fascinating old wives tales, stories and spooky goings-on in Plymouth. 

Stay at Future Inn Plymouth

Future Inns has 143 rooms with everything you would expect and more for a night away. The hotel offers free parking and free WiFi to all guests. All bedrooms sleep up to four guests, so they are family-friendly and ideal for groups. Plus, under 12s stay for free. Just under 4 miles north of Plymouth city centre, you are close to all of the attractions:

Explore Plymouth

Make a reservation

Book direct for the best rates guaranteed, with rooms from £67 per room per night.

Book your stay online, where we guarantee the best rate, or with our Reservations Team on 01752 701000 or email

Book with confidence

We know flexibility is necessary now more than ever, so we've changed our rates to give our guests more choice. We've got you covered with super flexible hotel rates offering free cancellation and semi-flexible rates offering great value stays with plenty of options.

Future Inn Rewards

For additional benefits, you can join the Future Inns hotel loyalty program. For every £1 you spend on accommodation, you earn 1 reward point. Plus, get double points when you dine in the restaurant. Points can then be used to upgrade your bedroom to a suite or a free night's stay. You also get a complimentary drink voucher to redeem in the bar every time you stay and a member's discount rate. It's also completely free to join!

Sign Up to Our Newsletter