Museums at Night 2012: Your guide to ghost tours, grisly tales and murder mysteries

| 15 May 2012
a photo of a stately home illuminated at night
One of the most haunted houses in the UK, Knebworth, will be revealing its paranormal pedigree for Museums at Night 2012.© Knebworth House

Museums at Night seems to bring out the ghoulish side of some cultural venues, many of which like nothing more than frightening us half to death with tales of ghosts, ghouls and other mysterious spectres of the night.

That said, we seem to revel in being scared witless, so here’s a roundup of some top spooky comings and goings during Culture24's Museums at Night weekend.

Ouija boards and ghosts tours

, near Newbury, has none other than TV’s Most Haunted resident medium Chris Conway on hand for an evening which includes tons of paranormal equipment, ghost detection devices, EMF boxes, Ouija boards, glass divination gear, hearing enhancers, dowsing rods and night vision goggles.

There will also be séances, table tipping and something decorously called the Human Pendulum.

Not to be outdone, - known as the most haunted building in the city - is offering candlelit tours of its various passageways, nooks and crannies in search of the ghostly servant, the phantom girl and the notorious Lonely ANZAC. Apparently it’s not for those of a nervous disposition.

By way of contrast, Brighton’s is billing its night of ghost tours as a “fun event”, which probably depends on your outlook. Expect tours of its famously haunted hallways – allegedly suitable for hardy souls aged six upwards.

Ghosts, spectres and poltergeists  

One of the more unusual locations in this year’s parade of paranormal pleasures is ’s bunker complex, which is said to be full of spectral figures including a pacing airman, ghostly nurse and numerous unexplained shadowy figures who appear in the corner of your eye.

There’s even the odd bit of flying furniture and the sound of footsteps and voices to send shivers up and down your spine. Brrrrrrr...

, another place soaked in history and dating back 600 years, has a track record of paranormal activity that will be revealed in a night of ghost hunting and grisly tales in the company of psychic ghost hunter Iain Shillito.

is also rightly famous for its ghosts and ghouls. There have been countless sightings of mysterious figures walking through walls and hedges;  legend even has it that an unfortunate Jenny Spinner was once incarcerated behind a wall in a wing of the house. All will be revealed for Museums at Night.

Grisly tales and cemeteries

The in Leeds is, of course, an old workhouse with its fair share of lingering tales of misery and despair. A night at this medical museum promises amputation, murder and mayhem - if you have the stomach for it.

In Bristol, the city’s very own Necropolis, , is holding torchlight tours amidst the gothic gloom.

They will reveal the funerary customs of the Victorians, with a few “surprises” thrown in for good measure. Just what you need when poking around a cemetery after dark.

Another Most Haunted regular, Richard Felix, is at the for a night of ghostly tales relating to the museum’s collection of extraordinary grisly objects.

Similarly, the Object Store at is also opening up for a torchlight tour, and it’s said to be more than a little spooky in there.

Museum murder mysteries
Finally, where would we be without a good old museum murder mystery? Step forward several museums in Scotland including , whose Murder Mystery Evening promises to reveal a strange artefact from the collection that will apparently drag the assembled throng into a “living nightmare”.

It all sounds perfectly ghastly – were it not for the two course hot buffet dinner with refreshments thrown in for good measure.

There’s also Death over dinner at , where the Edwardian-era pleasantries will be disrupted by the discovery of a body after the repast.
Murder at the Priory, courtesy of the is by contrast a free-form, light-hearted event where you can just turn up and discover scenes of a murder mystery play taking part in various locations around Whitthorn Priory.

Finally there will be a mysterious disappearance at the where nautical plans have been stolen and an architect has disappeared.

Visit the museum at night and pick up clues in the Drawing Office, Cutting Room, Wax Boiling, Tool Room and the Tank to help deduce who the murderer is.
Museums at Night newsletter sign up
Culture24 editor's newsletter sign up
Festival of Museums