Top Ten Devon Haunts

At the heart of all ghost stories is the fear that the past is not in the past, that there is a world beyond our own. Whether you believe in the spirit world or not, here are the top 10 Devon haunts you can visit if you’re looking for proof of the unknown or just want to hear a scary story.

10) Dean Clarke House

Southernhay Gardens, Exeter EX1 1SG

Formerly the Royal Devon Exeter Hospital, this building opened its doors back in 1743 back when more people died in hospitals than were cured. It’s said that a hard-working nurse died there, either because of exhaustion or suicide. Years later, doctors and nurses saw a gray figure fussing over a patient’s bedside. The patient died soon after. This became so common an occurrence that when doctors saw the figure, they called the patient’s next of kin even before they were dead. Many believe this figure to be that of the deceased nurse, but now the question remains: was she sensing these dying patients and trying to take care of them in their final hours, or was she murdering the patients who had driven her to her death?

9) Royal Castle Hotel

11 the Quay, Dartmouth TQ6 9PS

Royal Hotel

If you’re looking for deadly royalty, look no further than the Royal Castle Hotel. Back in 1688, legend says that Queen Mary II waited here for William of Orange to arrive with his army to take her father’s throne. Legend has it that he was delayed in a storm and as soon as he landed on shore, William sent a carriage to Mary to bring her to him. Though the Royal Castle Hotel did not exist at that time and was only two private houses, people still say that they can hear the clatter of unseen horse hooves. What could be the cause of this noise, if not for Mary and William’s unlikely legend?

There are other ghosts that haunt the premises and may be the answer. Could it be the call of William Tabb, a stable boy who was drowned and has been said to appear in the area? Or could it be one of the other many ghosts playing a prank on unknowing travelers? I guess you’ll have to go there to find out! 

8) Okehampton Castle

Castle Lane, Okehampton EX20 1JA

Situated just outside of Dartmoor, this castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Howard of Fitzford. She was a forceful seventeenth century lady whose father is said to be responsible for two murders. Though Lady Howard was not responsible for the murders, her ghost is doomed to travel between Okehampton Castle and Fitzford House every night. 

7) Exeter Prison

30 New North Road, Exeter EX4 4EX

Exeter Prison

At the Exeter Prison, still in use today, there’s said to be one prisoner who has yet to move on: Gordon House Trenoweth, the last man to be executed there for the murder of Albert Bateman. The police found Bateman, a local tobacco shop owner, brutally beaten to death on December 24, 1942. They found a gun on the crime scene and assumed it belonged to the murderer. They were able to trace the gun and other forensic evidence back to Trenoweth, who was known at the time as the local man who’d been imprisoned because he was unable to pay the bills for his wife’s stay at a mental hospital.

Though he had three witnesses confirming his alibi at the time of the murder, Trenoweth was sentenced to prison and given the death penalty by the judge. Trenoweth was hanged on Tuesday, April 6, 1943 at 8 in the morning. People thought that was the end of his story, but years later, two prisoners said that they saw the figure of a man walk out of a cell and then vanish. The cell that the prisoners pointed out was Trenoweth’s and their description of the man matched his prisoner records. They bricked up the cell, but people still say that, if you listen, you can hear Trenoweth’s footsteps pacing back and forth up there. Are these the footsteps of a man unjustly trapped here or one still trying to find repentance years after his crime?

6) West Chapple Farm

Winkleigh EX19 8HB

Made famous for nearly unspeakable tragedy in 1975, West Chapple was once the home of the Luxton family. When their father, Robert, died in 1939, he left the farm to his three children, Frances, Robbie, and Alan. For many years, the farm ran smoothly with the three children working in harmony. However, when Alan got engaged, the two siblings refused to give him his share of the wealth and forced him to cut off the engagement. Alan did so but was never the same again. He was ultimately hospitalized for a breakdown but was eventually returned to the farm. The town started seeing less and less of the siblings.

By 1975, all three siblings were in their sixties and realized that they were unable to take care of the farm by themselves. They sold the farm, but as the date approached for them to leave the farm, Alan became more distressed. When the local deliveryman came to the farm, he found the three siblings dead. The coroner deduced that Alan shot himself, Robbie found Alan and proceeded to shoot Frances before shooting himself. Hauntings are often associated with such violent deaths as these. Legend has it that the three siblings never left the farm. The modern owners have reported seeing human apparitions and feeling intensely negative emotions in various parts of the farm

5) The Three Crowns Inn

High Street, Chagford TQ13 8AJ


Dartmoor is filled with ghosts in every nook and cranny of the little towns as well as on the famous tors. One of the most well-known haunts is in a little Chagford inn. On the morning of February 8 1643, a cavalier named Sydney Godolphin was caught in a fight in Chagford and was shot on the terrace of the Three Crowns. Employees and guests alike say that they still see Sydney wander the halls, roof, and many do not like standing behind the bar because they feel his presence.

Other ghosts are said to haunt the Inn in rooms 13 and 14. Room 13 is said to be the home of a little girl who rides her tricycle down halls in a very Shining-esque fashion and wanders around in the room. However, not all the spirits are so friendly. Room 14 is known as the Bishop’s room, and the kind employee telling me about the hotel said that they try to prevent women from staying in that room alone because they report feeling uncomfortable there.

4) Chambercombe Manor

Chambercombe Lane, Ilfracombe EX34 9RJ

When doing repairs back in 1738, Jan Vye looked up at his home, Chambercombe Manor, and saw a woman who he didn’t recognize in the window. What makes this typical haunting occurrence even more chilling is that Vye was only aware of four rooms in his home, but this woman had appeared in a fifth window. After exploring his home and knocking down a wall, Vye and his wife found the fifth room. It was an old, dusty bedroom with a skeleton lying in the bed.

That body belonged to Katherine Wallis. When coming home, her parents found her on the side of the road. Not recognizing their daughter, the couple took Katherine home. Unfortunately, Katherine died later that night. In need of money, her parents robbed the body and left her in the spare room -- still unaware the dead girl was their daughter. However, word spread of Katherine's disappearance, and the couple quickly realized that the body in their spare room was their daughter. Ashamed and upset at what they'd done, the couple walled up the spare room and tried to forget. Katherine's ghost is said to haunt the manor alongside three other ghosts, a man, and another woman.

3) Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomery, Totnes TQ9 6LJ


Said to be the most haunted castle in Devon, Berry Pomeroy Castle has a rich history detailed in the eerie audio guide. Read more about the history and haunts of this truly chilling travel location in this article!

2) Castel-a-Mare


The last family that lived in Castel-a-Mare reported a woman on the stairs and refused to go into the drawing room because they felt that it was full of unseen people. However, in the early twentieth century, the house was empty and paranormal investigators began to explore the strange building. Castel-a-Mare is an interesting addition to the list, because there are no historical connection or names attached to the spirits of the house. There are only supernatural investigations to fill in the blanks of the screams and laughter heard in the building. 

In 1917, a small woman was possessed by the spirit of a violent man and displayed inhuman strength. Moments after being let go, the medium was possessed again by a female maid, who detailed the murder of her mistress before crying about her own murder. Countless other investigators saw black masses or felt unfriendly spirits. Then, in 1962, Miss Singleton, a medium, was pushed against a wall by a black mass that she identified who had strangled his wife in the house. People deduced that a doctor murdered his wife and maid in the nineteenth century and their energy is trapped in the area. Even though Castel-a-Mare was demolished in 1920, the strange activity continued in the building built in its place. That building was then torn down, but if you travel where the building once was, it’s said that you can still hear blood-curdling shrieks.

1) The Hairy Hands

The B3212, between Two Bridges and Postbridge in Dartmoor

Hairy Hands

One of the most haunted places in Devon isn’t an abandoned castle or spooky prison: it’s a bridge in the middle of Dartmoor. Since the 1920s, drivers have reported having difficulty driving in this area. Many people have crashed their cars or motorbikes because of a pair of hands that forced their vehicle off the road. Again and again, people have described a pair of hairy hands, so much so that it’s become one of the most famous Devon legends.

One of the explanations for the strange occurrence is that an elemental is manifesting itself. Some say that the being is the victim of a car crash that’s now long forgotten, others say that the spirit goes back to the violent days of the Bronze Age. Whatever you believe, the government had so many complaints that they actually had to do roadwork in an attempt to stop the crashes. However, this has not wholly solved the problem, and cases of the Hairy Hands are still being reported to this day.


Text © Emily Daluga, Photos © Emily Daluga, Alana Gale, Megan Otto, and Alex Kirshy



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