From the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin and his faithful mare Black Bess to Anne Boleyn's headless carriage horses, here are a few equines that may give you the shivers... Happy Halloween!
1. Black as your soul
The legendary highwayman Dick Turpin and his faithful mare Black Bess are amongst the busiest ghosts in Britain, rumoured to haunt Epping Forest, Woughton on the Green in Buckinghamshire and, er, Harry Styles’ North London mansion. (Yes, him out of One Direction. The one with the hair.) The crooner’s home is near The Spaniard’s Inn in Hampstead, where the notorious outlaw and his mates used to drink — and where Black Bess is regularly heard clip-clopping about outside. The pair terrorised the coach roads out of London for two years from 1735 to 1737, robbing the rich and, well, keeping the money. Dick Turpin was caught and hanged on 7 April 1739.
2. Devil may care
If you ever visit the Three Pigeons pub in Nesscliffe, Shropshire, look out for the ghost of a gigantic man riding a huge black horse. Either you’ve drunk way too much vodka, or you’ve just spotted the ghost of highwayman (yes, another one) Humphrey Kynaston and his horse Beelzebub — so named because locals back in the 1500s believed the horse to be the very Devil himself. A formidable character, Kynaston once calmly shot dead a man who had the temerity to sit in his usual seat in the pub. Beelzebub, of course, helped him escape — with the sheriff in hot pursuit, the demonic beast is said to have transported his master to safety by jumping off the top of Nesscliffe and landing at Ellesmere, a mere nine miles away.
3. What a carry-on
Anne Boleyn, the unlucky second wife of axe-happy King Henry VIII, is another ghost that gets around, haunting Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Hever Castle, amongst others. She grew up in Blickling Hall, Norfolk, and every year on 19 May — the anniversary of her execution — a carriage pulled by six headless horses drives up to the door of the mansion, with Anne inside, dressed in white and holding her severed head on her lap. When the carriage reaches the hall, it vanishes along with the horses, and Anne roams the corridors of her old home until daybreak. Must be hard to find her way round without a head — talk about things going bump in the night…
4. Passing through
Pluckley, in Kent, is alleged to be Britain’s most haunted village and naturally it boasts a few phantom horses amongst its register of spectres. A ghostly coach-and horses gallops through the village and up Maltman Hill. One terrified woman, on her way back from babysitting, saw it tear past with lights blazing from the carriage windows. Another unfortunate driver, in 1997, actually heard the sound of hooves on cobbles in his car as the spectral coach passed straight through him.
5. Ahead of the game
Headless horsemen are a popular motif in British folklore. There’s one that hangs out at Dungee Corner in the village of Bozeat, Northamptonshire. Another decapitated chappy is seen galloping along the B1242 near Atwick, Yorkshire. But if you’re in Ireland and you spot one of these fellas clutching his head under his arm, riding a black horse, and wielding a whip made from a human spine, then your days are strictly numbered — this is the dullahan, or ‘dark man,’ and he’s an omen of death. Sorry!
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6. Now you see it…
Robert Durham, 45, got the internet’s knickers in a twist earlier this year when he took a photo in notoriously eerie Weedon Bec cemetery, in Daventry, Northamptonshire, that appears to show a ghostly figure holding a horse. Allegedly.