Big cats, poltergeists, headless ladies and ghostly piano playing are just some of the spooky sights reported in North Devon, according to the UK’s Paranormal Dartabase.

There are dozens of entries of ghostly sights and sounds around the region, ranging from pubs and churches to council buildings and even a cinema.

The Paranormal Database describes itself as ‘a serious ongoing project to quantitatively document as many locations with paranormal / cryptozoological interest as possible, region by region, in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands.’

“One hundred and three areas are currently covered, now totalling over 11,900 entries, with frequent additions and current stories continuously updated.”

Here are a few of the ghostly sightings reported in North Devon...


In Barnstaple there are five reports on the Paranomal Database, including the ghost of a worker at Barnstaple Cinema who died after an accident repairing the roof in 1931.

Other reports include a large black cat near the town centre, and two ghosts named by a medium haunting the Guildhall.

There are reports of ghostly sightings at Barnstaple Guildhall. Picture: Tom TeeganThere are reports of ghostly sightings at Barnstaple Guildhall. Picture: Tom Teegan

There was also a report of ‘part of a leg with a dark boot’ being photographed at the Braunton Inn, and a ghost creating mischief in Pilton Park.


There were four spooky entries reported in Bideford, many of which at private homes.

The old Bideford Zoo was the first report, where a group of teeanger visiting the house reported ‘feeling a prescence’.

A family living in a private resident experienced strange occurances such as ghostly figures and the strong smell of lavender, over a five-year period.

In the churchyard it is claimed a witch made a deal with the devil, and another manor house experienced a ghostly lady dressed in blue.

The sounds of a piano were also heard and the report said: “The sightings ceased after a portrait of Bell was discovered and returned to the manor.”


In Braunton one entry claims the ghost of De Tracey is haunting the river, condemned to make ropes from the sand.

Another ghost, a phantom nicknamed ‘Old White Hat’, was also reported pacing along the banks of the river, calling out for a ferryboat which never arrives.

Combe Martin

There were two entries for Combe Martin – one at the Pack o’Cards and another at St Peter’s Church.

A small man sporting a long beard, and a white woman in a flowing gown, are both said to haunt the pub.

And the report for the church said: “A mix of priests, women, peasants and a bishop were observed walking through the church in complete silence, before fading away.”

St Nectan Church as seen from the cliff tops at Hartland Quay, is said to be haunted.St Nectan Church as seen from the cliff tops at Hartland Quay, is said to be haunted.


Hartland had four entries in the database, randing from Hartland Point to the West Country Inn.

Headless shades are said to move slowly around the Bow Bridge area, wearing silken dresses.

At St Nectan’s Church a monk in a black habit has been spotted, and the local legend says a phantom band of brothers tramp from the church to the former abbey.

A teenager called Elvira, murdered by a gypsy who lured her from her home, has also been spotted at the pub.


Ilfracombe’s famous ‘haunted’ home at Chambercombe Manor is one of two entries for the town.

Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe, has had many ghostly reports.Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe, has had many ghostly reports.

At the manor a secret room was discovered in the mid-19th century with a female skeleton on the bed, and since then there have been reports of a strange sounds.

Lady Jane Grey’s ghost is also said to haunt the building.

And at the council offices, a video posted on social media in 2016 appeared to show an office chair moving across the room unaided.

Lynton and Lynmouth

Three reports were made of spooky sightings in Lynton and Lynmouth.

At the Bridge Inn in Lynmouth, a pale figure was reported standing over a guest’s bed.

At Lynton Castle, it is reported a holy man placed a curse on the estates after the lady of the castle refused entry to a blank monk.

Albert and Mary Willcocks, the former Torrington station master and his wife, are said to haunt the Puffing Billy pub.Albert and Mary Willcocks, the former Torrington station master and his wife, are said to haunt the Puffing Billy pub.

And at Valley of the Rocks, there were sightings of a werewolf reported up until the late 1990s.


Shebbear’s Devil’s Boulder features on the database, as per its yearly tradition.

Once a year the villagers turn a large stone over that stands by an oak.

It is said that if they fail to do so, disaster and ill-fortune will strike the region.


There were three sightings for Torrington in the database, including at Castle Hill, where ghosts from the Battle of Torrington are spotted.

The Puffing Billy pub is said to be haunted by the former stationmaster and his wife, often seen moving around the building.

And a wish hound was reported running along the stretch of road between Torrington and Bideford.