When it comes to the supernatural, the United Kingdom is a treasure trove of enchantment and mystery. Throughout the centuries, this storied land has provided the backdrop for tales of the eerie and uncanny, inspiring many famed authors. From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the desolate marshes of northern England, the landscapes teem with a chilling history that leaps off the pages.
Each of these locations offers a unique chance to experience the places that have inspired some of the most captivating supernatural tales in literature. They remind us that sometimes, the settings of our favourite stories can be just as bewitching as the narratives themselves.
Eel Marsh House, 'The Woman In Black' - Susan Hill
First on our list is the fictional Eel Marsh House, the eerie setting of Susan Hill's gothic novic 'The Woman in Black'. Though the house itself is a figment of the author's imagination, it draws inspiration from real-life locations. To get a sense of the haunting atmosphere, take a trip to the marshes of North Essex or North Norfolk. As you traverse the desolate and foggy landscapes, you can almost picture the spectral woman in black herself, her mournful presence hanging over the bleak expanses of land, adding a layer of mystery and fear to an otherwise serene view. For the movie version, the exterior shots of the house were filmed in Northamptonshire's Cotterstock Hall, near Oundle village.
Edinburgh, 'Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde' - Robert Louis Stevenson
The atmospheric city of Edinburgh, Scotland, with its historic cobbled streets and imposing castle, served as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's masterpiece, 'Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde'. From the respectable façade of the New Town (akin to the respectable Dr Jekyll) to the eerie labyrinth of the Old Town's underground vaults (which mirrors the terrifying Mr Hyde), Edinburgh is a city of contrasts and hidden depths. To experience the dichotomous nature of Stevenson's work, embark on a guided walking tour of the city that takes you from the grandeur of Princes Street to the dark, winding alleys of the Old Town. Don't miss the opportunity to stop for a drink at the historic Deacon Brodie pub, which is said to be the real life inspiration for the tale.
Whitby, 'Dracula' - Bram Stoker
No tour of supernatural literary locations in the UK would be complete without a visit to Whitby, the seaside town in North Yorkshire that inspired Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. Whitby's atmospheric Gothic Abbey ruins and the 199 steps leading up to it were where Stoker envisioned his Transylvanian count coming ashore in the form of a dog, unleashing his reign of terror. Today, you can visit the Abbey, take a haunting stroll around the churchyard, and even attend the biannual Whitby Goth Weekend, which pays homage to the town's association with the supernatural.
Aldwych Underground Station, 'Neverwhere' - Neil Gaiman
In Neil Gaiman's urban fantasy novel 'Neverwhere', London becomes a supernatural realm, known as "London Below." A significant part of the action takes place in abandoned Underground stations, including the Aldwych Underground Station. Today, Aldwych station is closed to the public, but look out for occasional tours where you can explore the deserted ticket halls and platforms, adding a tinge of the supernatural to your visit.
Highgate Cemetery, 'Her Fearful Symmetry' - Audrey Niffenegger
Highgate Cemetery in North London serves as the setting for Audrey Niffenegger's ghostly novel 'Her Fearful Symmetry'. This beautiful and haunting cemetery, resting place to many famous figures, offers guided tours that explore its rich history, architecture, and the narratives of those interred there. It's an atmospheric spot for those interested in the supernatural.
Inverness, 'Macbeth' - William Shakespeare
The city of Inverness in Scotland, though not directly eerie, has an important place in supernatural literature as the setting of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. The play's themes of prophecy, ghosts, and witchcraft have forever connected it to the supernatural realm. While the real Macbeth's castle no longer exists, you can visit the later Inverness Castle and Cawdor Castle, often associated with the play, and immerse yourself in the spectral history of this Scottish region.
'Jamaica Inn', Cornwall - Daphne du Maurier
Next, we travel to Cornwall, where Daphne du Maurier set her spellbinding novel 'Jamaica Inn'. While the novel isn't itself supernatural, the real life 18th-century coaching inn that inspired it is a famously haunted paranormal hotspot. Jamaica Inn is situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor, was notorious as a hideaway for smugglers. Du Maurier herself was captivated by the inn's history and ambiance when she became stranded there during a riding trip in 1930. Today, the inn stands as a testament to its past, complete with a museum dedicated to du Maurier and the smuggling history of the area. The eeriness of its surroundings and the mysterious tales of ghostly sightings make this an unmissable spot for supernatural literature enthusiasts.