Britain, a country that many people say is the most haunted in the world (there are supposedly more ghost sightings per square kilometre in Britain than in any other country) is to have a ghost school, to give the public the chance to decide whether ghosts really do exist -

Jan 15

LONDON (AFP) - One of Britain's most haunted houses is to be the venue for the country's first "ghost school", aimed at giving the public the chance to decide whether -- and if so why -- things really do go bump in the night.

Muncaster Castle, an 800-year-old country pile in the scenic Lake District of northwest England has been chosen for the two-day residential course because of its spine-chilling reputation for spooks and spectral residents.

Jason Braithwaite, a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist from the University of Birmingham, central England, grew up within 10 miles (15 kilometres) of the castle and will run the course in March.

A self-confessed sceptic about the paranormal, he said the idea was to teach people to apply genuine scientific skills so they can decide for themselves what lies behind phenomena that appear to have no rational explanation.

"I'm not saying I can explain these experiences but I am saying that you will have the mental tools to look seriously and sensibly at them. It's not a 'turn-out-the-lights, is there anybody there?' experience," he told AFP.

Braithwaite, 34, whose day job entails working with brain damaged patients, has spent nearly 15 years researching why there have been so many ghost sightings at Muncaster, particularly in the castle's Tapestry Room.

Sounds of children crying and screaming, feelings of an other-worldly presence, the sound of footsteps and fleeting visions have all been reported in the room -- where guests reputedly never spend a second night.

Other stories concern the "Muncaster Boggle" or White Lady, who is said to haunt the gardens and surrounding roadways. She is said to be the ghost of Mary Bragg, a young girl murdered in the early 19th century near the castle gates.

Another spook is Tom Fool, the castle's former jester.

Braithwaite, however, suggests that an unusually high magnetic field in the area could account for the ghostly goings-on.

"There's no single explanation for ghosts, apparitions and strange experiences. There are a variety depending on the context and the individual," he explained. "I don't advance any fanciful notions of the supernatural.

"Some strange perceptions under certain circumstances can be induced by very strange and anomalous magnetic fields in the rooms where things go bump in the night."

The scientist, who works at Birmingham's Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, likened the strong magnetic fields to an "invisible thunder storm".

People with "less inhibited" and "more erratic" brains -- such as those who suffer from migraines or epilepsy -- were more susceptible to reactions in high energy fields, regardless of their intelligence or education, he argued.

The course, which costs 120 pounds (176 euros, 212 dollars), has the blessing of the Penningtons, the family who has lived at Muncaster since at least 1208.

It does not use ouija boards or other paraphernalia associated with psychics and mediums, in keeping with head of household Peter Frost Pennington's desire to steer away from "TV sensationalism".

"We're committed to genuine scientific research. We want to find out the truth about why so many people believe they see or experience ghosts at the castle," he said.

For his part, Braithwaite said he aims to encourage dispassionate, critical thinking, and ideal course members will go in with an open mind.

"I might be wrong (about ghosts). I'm prepared to be wrong. But I'm not going to start thinking it's the spirits of dead people.

"People are hearing things, seeing things, sensing things, so what is it? Can we explain this psychologically and in terms of the brain?"

Arundel Castle has 3 ghosts, including a Civil War Cavalier.

1 Leeds Castle in Kent is haunted by a phantom dog who brings bad luck to visitors.

2 Broadcasting house in London's Regent Street, is home to the BBC and the ghost of a limping butler.

3 Castle Rising, Norfolk reverberates to the mad laughter of Queen Isabella, who was held captive there after plotting against her son Edward III.

4 Hampton Court has an embarrassment of spooks - up to 25 according to some estimates, including two of Henry VIII's wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard, whose screams are still heard.

5 If the Loch Ness Monster is rarely seen it may be because it is wary of the Ghost of Annie Frazer at nearby Aultsigh Inn, who was murdered by her lover in a jealous rage.

6 St Thomas's Hospital in London is haunted by Florence Nightingale.

7 St Donat's Castle, Cardiff boasts not only a spectral panther roaming its corridors but also an invisible pianist who strikes up at will.

8 The Tower of London is inhabited by several headless apparitions, including Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey.

9 The Devil himself is said to drive a coach and horses up Lawnmarket in Edinburgh.

10 The ghost of King George IV has been seen roaming the underground passages of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

11 Billionaire Paul Getty was startled on several occasions while staying at Woburn Abbey when the resident ghost thrust open the door of his bedroom.

12 The Scottish mountain Ben Doran is haunted by a half-man, half-goat creature called a Urisk

13 The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Norfolk was actually photographed and her ghostly picture published in Country Life magazine in 1916.

14 Chatham House in Lyme Regis, Dorset is haunted by the ghost of "Hanging Judge" Jeffreys wearing a black cap and robes and carrying a bloodied bone.

15 The Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, London is haunted by the ghost of murdered programme seller Nellie Klute.

16 The ghost of jockey Fred Archer rides the racecourse at Newmarket and still frightens horses there.

17 Arundel castle in West Sussex has three ghosts - a Cavalier, a kitchen hand and a young girl who threw herself from the castle's Hiorne's Tower.

18 The ghost of St Hilda who is seen wearing a shroud at a window in Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire, was mentioned in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

19 The ghost of a bear is said to haunt Cheyne Walk in Chelsea.

20 Castle Rushen on the Isle of Man is haunted by a "grey lady", who was wrongly hanged for murdering her son.

21 Littlecote Manor, Wiltshire has the ghost of the gruesome Burning Babe, a new-born child who was thrown on to a fire.

22 Lawrence of Arabia has been seen at Cloud's Hill in Dorset and is said to appear whenever England is in danger.

23 Legends of a monster lurking in a secret room are told about Glamis Castle, Scotland.

24 Cranmere Pool, Dartmoor plays host to the ghost of Bingie Gear who appears in different forms, both animal and human.

25 The Bank of England is home to the Black Nun, whose brother was hanged after being convicted of forgery there.

26 Ghost watchers at Wolfeton House in Dorchester may see the strange sight of a coach and horses being driven up the staircase inside the house.

27 A "green lady" with a baby has been seen at Crathes Castle in Scotland, where the skeleton of a women and child were found under the floor during building work.

28 At East Riddlesden Hall in Yorkshire there is a wooden cradle which is rocked by invisible hands.

29 The ghost of a girl called Jenny can be heard spinning in the East wing of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.

30 Vine Street Police Station in London's West End is haunted by one Sergeant Goddard who hanged himself in a cell.

31 Borley Rectory in Essex was once known as The Most Haunted House in England for its vast array of spooks.

32 Wimbledon Theatre, London has two ghosts, one has been seen walking through a closed door in the fly-tower.

33 Croglin Low Hall, Cumbria has a vampire.

34 Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor immortalised by Daphne Du Maurier, is haunted by the ghost of a sailor who was robbed and killed by a cut-purse.

35 Theatre Royal in Margate has the ghost of actress Sarah Thorne who died in 1899.

36 A ghostly dwarf guards buried treasure at Thirwell Castle in Northumberland.

37 The Black Museum at Scotland Yard is haunted by a nun who has no face.

38 The ghost of an old woman known as the Old Hell Cat who knits with red-hot needles haunts at Raby Castle, Durham.

39 A mischievous spirit a the Kylesku Hotel in the Scottish Highlands has a habit of popping his head through a trap door in the ceiling.

40 Dover Castle in Kent is haunted by a headless drummer boy murdered during the Napoleonic Wars.

41 A spectral ship has been seen at Oulton Broad in Suffolk at the point where the Mayfly sank in 1920.

42 The owner of The Mermaid at Rye in Sussex has witnessed a phantom duel being fought outside the inn at the beginning of this century.

43 At Utkinton Hall in Cheshire a 16th Century priest cast a troublesome spirit into the body of a blackbird which is said to be the ancestor of the birds there today.

44 Ghost hunters are spoilt for choice at Windsor Castle. Royal spectres include Elizabeth I, Charles I and George III.

45 Ye Olde Ferryboat Inn in Cambridgeshire is built over the grave of Juliet Tewsley who hanged herself at that spot.

46 The spirit of Lady Howard rides in a coach of bones at Okehampton, Dartmoor.

47 A ghostly horse bus is said to drive down the Bayswater Road by London’s Hyde Park.

48 Inverawe House in the Western Highlands of Scotland has a houseproud spirit called Green Jean, who puts out fresh soap and towels for guests.

49 The Marsden Grotto Hotel, built in caves near Sunderland, is haunted by the ghost of a smuggler.

50 Gwyllgi, the red-eyed Dog of Darkness haunts Laugharne, the Welsh town made famous by poet Dylan Thomas.

51 A spectral ape is just one of several spirits at Athelhampton Hall in Dorset.

52 A skeleton found in a secret chamber could be the cause of sightings of a phantom priest at Lyme Park in Cheshire.

53 A ghostly funeral cortege bearing the coffin of Lady Margaret Godolphin has been seen at Godolphin House in Cornwall.

54 At Ethie Castle near Aberdeen it is said you can hear Cardinal Beaton as he limps through its corridors with his leg in bandages.

55 Fountains Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales echoes to the sound of a phantom choir of monks.

56 Little Lawford Hall near Rugby once housed a ghost which was exorcised by 12 clergymen who spirited it into a glass phial.

57 Lindisfarne, of Holy Island, is said to be haunted by the ghost of St Cuthbert.

58 An 18th Century dandy haunts The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane as does the ghost of the famous clown Grimaldi.

59 The ruins of Wycoller Hall near Burnley in Lancashire still hold the ghost of a horseman who murdered his wife there.

60 Hermitage Castle in Scotland is haunted by the black magician Lord Soulis who was thrown into a cauldron of boiling lead after murdering the children of local villagers.

61 At Wonson Manor on Dartmoor spectral Cavaliers have been seen playing cards, perhaps replaying the hand on which the title deed of the manor were gambled away.

62 Visitors to Renishaw, the family home of the Sitwells near Sheffield, have reported receiving chilling kisses from the cold lips of ghosts.

63 The ghost of a woman has been seen washing her hands at Castle Grant near Grantown-on-Spey in Scotland.

64 Ham House in Surrey plays host to the apparition of King Charles spaniel which has been seen in broad daylight.

65 At Hergest Court in Herefordshire a head with no body is carried by its owner’s dog, who faithfully picked it up and carried it off after his master was beheaded.

66 The Bear Inn at Stock in Essex has a ghost whose earthly body became stuck in the chimney during a bar-room prank.

67 Roos Hall at Beccles in Suffolk has a variety of spooks including a coach with a headless groom which arrives on Christmas Eve.

68 The spirit of King Arthur is rumoured to inhabit Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

69 John Buckstone, the actor/manager, still frequents London’s Haymarket Theatre, even though he died in 1878.

70 Saddell Abbey in Scotland is said to be haunted by “giants and beasties”.

71 The echoes of phantom footsteps can be heard at Chingle Hall in Lancashire, which is said to be full of secret hiding places.

72 Even owner Lord Montagu himself is reported to have heard the chanting of long-dead monks at Beaulieu in Hampshire.

73 At Bisham Abbey in Berkshire the strange ghost of Lady Hoby is seen “in negative” with black hands and face and white clothes.

74 The spirit of Dorothy Southworth lingers at Salmesbury Hall in Lancashire where her would-be bridegroom was murdered by her brother.

75 At Berry Pomeroy in Devon the ghost of Lady Margaret Pomeroy lures passers-by to her tower from which they fall to their deaths.

76 The Chequers Inn at Smarden in Kent is haunted by the ghost of a soldier murdered there in the 18th Century.

77 Lord Byron’s dog Boatswain haunts Newstead Abbey, Nottingham.

78 A nun, walled up in Southfleet Rectory in Kent returns to haunt the place.

79 Ashintully Castle, near Kirkmichael in Scotland, is haunted by three ghosts including that of a tinker hanged there for trespassing.

80 The ghost of Anne Boleyn is said to cross the bridge over River Eden at Haver Castle in Kent every Christmas Eve.

81 Hampstead Heath was the haunt for many a highwayman. But one haunts it still in the form of a whistling stone at the spot where he was killed.

82 At Cortachy Castle, near Kirriemuir in Scotland, a young drummer was sealed inside his drum and hurled from the battlements after having an affair with the lady of the castle. The sound of his drumming still can be heard.

83 The spirit of George II haunts Kensington Palace in London, where he died.

84 Bettiscombe Manor, near Lyme Regis in Dorset, houses the skull of a West Indian Slave brought back during the 17th Century. The spirit of the dead man would not rest in the nearby churchyard so the skull has been kept at the house to avoid the terrible hauntings following his burial.

85 The village of Pluckley in Kent is home to a least 12 ghosts, including a miller, a schoolmaster, a gypsy and colonel.

86 An eerie whistling can sometimes be heard at Balcomie Castle, near Fife in Scotland where a servant was starved to death in the 16th Century for playing his tin whistle.

87 Anne Griffith r Awd Nance asked that on her death her head be interred at her home, Burton Agnes Hall in Humberside. The request was ignored and her ghost came back to haunt the house until her wishes were carried out.

88 The spectre of the Black Prince appears at Hall Place in Bexley, Kent, as an omen of death or disaster.

89 The well-travelled ghost of Anne Boleyn returns to Blickling Hall in Norfolk on each May 19th - the anniversary of her execution.

80 Seven ghosts loom large at Ballechin House in Scotland.

91 The sound of a ghostly hunting horn and baying hounds can be heard at Purse Caundle Manor in Somerset.

92 Westminster Abbey has several ghosts including that of the unknown warrior.

93 Jedburgh Castle in Scotland was once host to a chilling apparition in a cloak which when pulled away was revealed to be empty.

94 London’s Adelphi Theatre is haunted by the ghost of actor William Terriss, who was murdered outside the stage door in 1897.

95 Thorpe Hall in Lincolnshire holds the presence of the green lady, a Spanish woman who fell in love with owner Sir John Bolle and whose spirit followed him home to England after her death.

96 The mistress of Sir Tarquin, killed by Lancelot, lives on in ghostly form at Tamworth Castle in Staffordshire.

97 The spirit of Nell Gwynne inhabits Salisbury Hall in Hertfordshire, the house bought for her by Charles II.

98 Lowther Castle in Cumbria is haunted by Sir James Lowther, an eccentric who insisted on bringing his wife down to dinner - even after she was dead.

99 The Shipwright’s Arms near Faversham, Kent holds the ghost of a sailor who emits a “strange musty smell”.

100 The ghost of a sleepwalking man haunts Herstmonceux Castle in Kent.

101 The suitably named Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland, boasts manifestations of a young boy, walking skeletons and the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley, who lived a lonely life there after her husband ran off with her sister.