The Most Chilling Ghost Stories We've Ever Heard

a spooky abandoned ruined cottage on a bleak empty moorland mountain in scotland on a winters day with a grunge, textured edit
Chilling Ghost Stories From 'Dark House' FansDavid Wall - Getty Images

As sad as we are to see summer fade away, we're extremely excited to usher in fall and all the eerie wonder that comes with it. In fact, we've been prepping for this moment all year long as we worked on the brand new season of our haunted house podcast, Dark House. One of the most rewarding (and entertaining) parts of the process is hearing personal ghost stories from our listeners. So, in the spirit of Halloween—and to celebrate Dark House Season 3 launching on September 13, 2023—we compiled all the best, most spine-tingling tales we've ever heard from our audience.

These creepy chronicles take place in cities along the East Coast and across the pond. (Maybe even in your own town!) Some of the spirits are friendly, others not so much.... And we even encountered a phantom feline. But the common theme of these apparition accounts is that, like these spirits, they'll stay with you.

Keep reading for the most chilling ghost stories and haunted house experiences from House Beautiful readers and Dark House listeners around the world.

For more scary stories like these, listen to Dark House on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow Dark House on Instagram and TikTok.

The Royal Haunting | York, England

"I live in what is probably the most haunted city in the world, completely notorious for its ghosts: the city of York, which hails back centuries, right through to pre-Roman Anglo-Saxon Vikings. Our city is beautiful, but we've had lots of bloodshed, and I had quite a few unfortunate experiences in the house I grew up in. By far my most horrific experience was when I was studying one evening, lying on my stomach in bed, reading about the Tudors. My door slowly creaked open, when someone, or rather, something sat on my bed. The mattress nearly collapsed under its weight. Suddenly a hand grabbed me around the back of my neck and started violently pushing my face into the pillow. I was absolutely terrified, but I finally got the courage to scream an expletive, and it disappeared. I laid there until dawn because I was too terrified to move my face from the pillow just in case whatever it was came back."

—Lisa Burn, York, United Kingdom

black and white sunset at westminster abbey with the big ben backlit taken in may before starting the repair works at the tower

The Invisible Night Nurse | New York

"My house, a one-story colonial in a historic section of Jacksonville, was built in 1940. The original owners lived in the house until 2009. The husband had passed away a few years prior, and the wife sold it right before she died. The original couple was, by all accounts of everyone who knew them, the sweetest, and they were unable to have children, though they desperately wanted them.

We waited about a year and a half after moving in to try and have a baby and got pregnant on the first try. We ended up having a miscarriage, but once we were cleared to try again, I immediately got pregnant again. The same thing happened with our second, too. Of course, we could just be extremely lucky and blessed, but that's not all.

When my children were infants, I'd see in the corner of my eye someone going into the nursery when the baby cried. Just a quick shadow. I'd also get a feeling that someone was watching me bathe the baby whenever I was in the bathroom with them, so much so that I'd often look behind me. Then I got a baby monitor, and when you go in and check on the baby, the monitor says, 'Caretaker visits baby.' We started getting that message when we were never in there. I stopped checking it because it was freaking me out too much, but I believe the couple is here and helping fill this house with kids like they were unable to do."

—Brittany, New York

old creepy eerie baby crib near window in dark room scary baby silhouette in dark a realistic dollhouse living room with furniture and window at night selective focus

The Cat Seance

"When I moved into the house I'm living in, it came with my landlord's indoor/outdoor cat, Rosie. Her bed and food were in the garage, which she had access to with a cat door. Rosie's best friend was Chester, a ginger tabby across the street. After a couple of years, Rosie fell ill and I took her to the vet, where she died during the night. A couple of days later, I went out to the garage to clean up her food and bed and found every cat in the neighborhood, including Chester, sitting in a circle in the garage. They all turned and looked at me. I slowly backed out. I assume they were having a memorial? Seance? I had never found any other cats inside, and haven't since. It was odd."

—Gillian, U.S.

a cat is sitting in the window of a dark room, lit by two candles it is looking at the full moon in the night sky
Istvan Hernadi photography... Mountain Visions

The Grandmother Ghost | New Jersey

"I spent the first three years of my life in Hiltonia, a historic neighborhood in old Trenton. Growing up, I would tell my parents about the nice old lady in my room. They thought I had an imaginary friend, but I believed this woman was my great-grandmother. Years later, I asked my parents about her and their faces went white. 'You remember her?' my mom asked me in disbelief. They then told me about all the times I talked about the nice lady in my room. My mom would ask me what she looked like, and I'd mention her pink robe and long white hair. I can still picture her smiling face and hear her soothing voice, as she often sat next to my bed and comforted me during thunderstorms."

—Liz, New Jersey

looking out of a dirty window with a curtain and a vintage lamp on the windowsill wooden living room cabinet and home interior a tree is in front of the spooky house
Thomas Marx

The Uninvited House Guest

"My boyfriend doesn't believe in ghosts, but I do and have had a handful of terrifying experiences happen in the middle of the night when I randomly wake up. Once, when my boyfriend and I rented a large house that felt haunted with a bunch of our friends, I had a dream that someone trying to break into our room. While I was dreaming, I heard someone whisper in my ear, 'Wake up.' When I opened my eyes, my boyfriend was screaming in his sleep. I shook him to wake him up and he said he was having a dream that someone was trying to break into our room. Both fully awake at that point, we looked over to the door. We both saw the door handle jiggling and then suddenly stop. He opened the bedroom door, but no one was there. We checked the ring camera as well, but it didn't show anyone there either."

—Kat, U.S.

a dark, spooky grainy closet door in harsh black and white

The Phantom Musician | Philadelphia

"I went to college in Center City, Philadelphia, and this part of Philadelphia has a lot of history. One day, I was visiting a well-known musical instrument store with an ex-girlfriend who wanted to purchase an instrument. It's a very old building, and the furniture and decorations inside are antique as well. When I walked into this building, I immediately felt off. My former girlfriend went to another room with a salesperson to find the instrument she was looking for, and I wandered off ending up in the cello room. It was on a different floor, and I don't remember walking upstairs, but when I arrived my ghost sense was going off the rails. It was telling me there was something in there that was incredibly upset and that I interrupted its space without permission.

I walked my way back down to find my girlfriend paying for an instrument, and I told her, 'There was something upstairs in the cello room. I'm pretty sure it was a ghost and it didn't want me in there. I'm gonna go outside.' When I said this. The salesperson's face turned white, absolutely pale as if a ghost himself, and I could see that I confirmed something. I explained myself, saying 'I can sense ghosts and there's one in the cello room that didn't want me here.' And as I watched him, I could see his face process every event that ever happened to him. It was such a strange experience."

—Jed, Philadelphia

urban hyper lapse

The Creepy Couple in the Woods | New York

"I grew up in upstate New York, and my childhood home was on a country road with little to no traffic. One time when I was in my backyard playing with my dog, his ears suddenly perked up and his entire body stiffened. I watched as he trotted around the side of the house. I thought he heard my dad come home, but it was clear that my dad's car was not there. I tried to walk around him so I could see a different angle to the street, but he quickly shifted to block me from stepping past him. It wasn't typical behavior from him, and I immediately felt like something was off. Then, his head whipped towards the driveway and he stared down the street.

When I followed his gaze, I saw what looked like a woman with a shawl blowing behind her. She ran down the street, passing our driveway. There were no distinguishing features, her figure was just blackish-gray, almost like a three-dimensional shadow. A few seconds later, another figure appeared behind her, chasing after her. He was taller and wearing a top hat.

They passed the opening of our driveway within seconds, and I lost visibility of them because the other side of our driveway was covered with dense, tall pine trees. They never came out on the other side of the trees, they just disappeared. And my dog's body relaxed after they left."

—Megan, New York

a horror concept of a house with a light in the window in a spooky forest on a dark, scary winters night
David Wall

The Apparition Called Alice | England

"When I was 2 years old, my parents bought a semi-detached house in a small town in the south of England. It was built in 1958, so the house wasn't particularly old, and my parents were the third owners. As I grew up, I developed an invisible friend called Alice, and my dog Chester and I would run around the house and garden with her, and by 4 years old, I insisted Alice needed a bowl of food for dinner, too. My parents assumed Alice was either an invisible friend or the name of another child at my nursery school.

One day, after playing in the garden, I came in upset and eventually, my mum got me to explain what was wrong. I told her Alice had gotten hurt and was dead. I kept pointing to my chest and arm saying they really hurt. My parents were totally baffled, but my mum had mutual friends with the previous owners, and she eventually told them about my experiences. My mum's friend looked horrified, and said ‘Oh god you don’t know, do you? Alice, the previous owner, died of a heart attack and was found by her son a day later in the hallway.’

I barely recall seeing Alice, but I always felt a loving, kind presence. Whenever I got scared my mum reassured me that Alice didn’t want to hurt us and she kept an eye on us, looking after us in our hardest moments."

—Becky, England

silhouette of naked womans body behind glass door concept

The Graveyard Ghosts | Ohio

"When I was 5, we moved next to an old, haunted house in Cincinnati. The cemetery for the family who once owned the home was still in the backyard, which made it eerier. Whenever our neighbors left home, they’d make sure to turn off all lights, TVs, etc., but they'd come back to all the lights on, and the TV and stereos on full blast. Their piano would also play on its own. They eventually moved out and put the house on the market. One night while the house was still unoccupied, my dad saw what looked like a 'glowing orb with feminine facial features' on the home's balcony. He rushed to wake my mom and have her look. Sure enough, she saw the same thing."

—Hannah, Ohio

a horror concept of a spooky graveyard in a scary forest in winter, with the trees silhouetted by fog with a muted, grunge edit
David Wall

The Stage Presence | Rhode Island

"I went to Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and there are tons of amazing buildings on our campus where ghost sightings have been reported (ever heard of Carey Mansion?). Being a theatre major, I was lucky enough to work in the historic Casino Theatre, built by Stanford K. White in the late 19th century. One day when I was working in the box office, our tech director informed me he going to the hardware store, so I’d be alone and responsible to lock up when I left for the night.

After he left, I heard footsteps coming from the far side of the theater. I figured it was the tech director who forgot something, so I called out 'Hello?' There was no answer. The footsteps picked up pace as they drew closer, and I was getting unnerved, so I called out again. Still no answer. Then, the footsteps started running and thudding loudly. I stuck my head out just as whoever it was should have been coming into the lobby, but there was no one there. I left the theater as fast as I possibly could, but thinking back on it, it was cool to experience a little bit of history—even if it was creepy."

—Katie, Rhode Island

aged seats
joshblake - Getty Images

The Haunted Bathroom | Minneapolis

"I was at my friend's house, and we had a psychic come over. My friend asked if there were any ghosts in the house, and the psychic said there were two, one of which was a 'bad man who never lived in the house but likes to slithers around the neighborhood, likes bathrooms and dark spaces, and likes to scare people." I immediately flashed back to a year prior when I got locked in the bathroom under the stairs on the main floor. There was no lock and when I screamed, my boyfriend came to help me. And when he came, the door opened easily. The bathroom has a dark navy blue wallpaper with a gold snake pattern."

—Mallory, Minneapolis

no one in the mirror mysterious

The Little Girl Ghost | D.C.

"We had a girl ghost in the house I grew up in. She had short brown hair and wore a long white nightgown, like a doll. I would see the end of her dress going around corners and doorways as if she were walking away from me, typically at night, and always when I was alone. I first saw her when I was three years old while taking a bath. I’ll never forget how scared I was, and I remember screaming. In middle school, I saw her full body head-on during the day. Once, I even heard her call my name. Every dog we had would stand up and bark nightly at around 10 p.m. in one bedroom corner. Eventually, during the pandemic, I was scratched while I was doing yoga in the basement. I didn't scratch myself and there was nothing around me. I never went back down there again."

—Meg, D.C.

a country lane, on a foggy night with a ghostly woman in a dress in front of glowing lights with a grunge, blurred, vintage edit
David Wall

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