Ghouls, ghosts and gore: Explore the spooky side of Museums at Night 2010

By Culture24 Staff | 12 March 2010
A photo of a skull next to a candle

Every good ghost story begins with a gruesome death. Centuries ago there was a murder in the Mast House at Chatham's Royal Dockyard, and investigators will be inviting visitors to join them on an overnight hunt for the ghost of the victim in A Murder in the Mast House (9.30pm-3am, £30, call 01634 823814).

Elsewhere museums are lining up plenty of night vigils, sleepovers, ghost stories and more as they revel in their phantom footfalls and mysterious grey figures.

A photo of an ancient house with a grass lawn in front of it

Smithills Hall in Bolton. Photo:

The ghosts of Smithills Hall, said to be haunted by a 16th century vicar (and a cat) will be summoned courtesy of Bolton Museum (Friday, 8pm, tickets £25, call 01204 332377).

In Norwich (a medieval city with its fair share of spectres and ghouls) The Dragon Hall, Guildhall and Cathedral will be the settings for creepy investigations of cloisters and labyrinthine tours that take visitors on an eerie journey into the dark (see our guide to Norwich Museums at Night for full details).

A photo of a contemporary gallery with wooden flooring and red walls

The Museum of Reading. Photo: readingmuseum.

Staff at the Museum of Reading reported sleepless nights on airbeds last year, sacrificing their slumber as part of a hugely successful family sleepover and terrifying torchlight tour. Craftmaking with an artist, a midnight feast and a hearty breakfast are the rewards again for brave explorers aged 14-19 this year (Saturday, 7pm-9am, £20/£10, booking essential, call 01189 399800).

You can vote for which film you want to see at The Manchester Museum in a special late-night screening accompanied by scary tours and art activities (Saturday, 4pm-8pm, £5, call 0161 275 2648), and the Petrie Museum is ramping up the tension with twilight trails and ghostly tales by Arthur Conan Doyle (Friday, 7pm-10pm, free, booking required, call 020 7679 4138 or email the Museum.

A photo of a brick house in forest land overlooking a large lake

The Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology. Photo:

Durham's Old Fulling Mill used to be a fully-operational juggernaut as part of the Cathedral estates. Now home to the University’s Museum of Archaeology, the site is hosting devilish craft activities and ghost stories (Friday, 6pm-8pm, £1/50p, family ticket £2.50, free for under-5s).

The most deliciously gore-filled night of last year could well have been at The Old Operating Theatre, where Surgery by Gaslight and Other Medical Tales returns with more fear, emotion and amputations from the 19th century (Saturday, 6pm-9pm, £3.25-£5.80, family ticket £13.75).

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