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Top 10 TERRIFYING Legendary Ghosts

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Laura Keating.

The scariest ghosts are the real ghosts. There are many famous ghost stories from around the world; whether they’re legendary ghosts and spirits like the banshee of Ireland or the Headless Horseman, or supposedly real life spirits like the ghosts of the Stanley Hotel or the ghost of Abraham Lincoln that haunts the White House, these terrifying ghost stories are still creepy. WatchMojo counts down ten famous ghosts that will haunt you for life.

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Script written by Laura Keating.

Top 10 TERRIFYING Legendary Ghosts

These are the ghoulies, ghosties, long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Legendary Spirits and Ghosts.

For this list, we’re looking at the most famous spooks and spirits reportedly recorded around the world, throughout history. Some of these speculative specters have been the subjects of popular books and movies, so don’t be surprised if you see some of your old favorites!

#10: Peg Entwistle

In life, this Welsh-born English beauty was aspiring stage and screen actress Millicent Lilian “Peg” Entwistle. Tragically, she only achieved the fame she craved after she leapt from the "H" on the - as it was then known - Hollywoodland sign, to her death. On September 18, 1932, Hollywood police got an anonymous phone call from a woman who claimed to have found a body under the sign. But that was not the last time Peg was found… not alive, anyway. Since her death, hikers and park rangers have reported a ghostly blonde-haired woman sadly wandering near the iconic landmark, but who vanishes if you approach. Others have reported the overpowering scent of gardenias – Peg’s signature perfume.

#9: Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

The Brown Lady is thought to be the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sorely mistreated wife of Viscount Charles Townshend. Locked in her rooms by her husband until her death in 1726, some believe she still haunts the house she could never leave. So nicknamed because of the brown brocade dress she wears, many have encountered the lady, including: guests of a Christmas party – who reported a lady with no eyes; King George IV, who left in the night as a result; and Captain Frederick Marryat, who described encountering a woman who “grinned in a malicious and diabolical manner.” Yikes. In 1936, a London-based photographer managed to capture the now famous image of the lady on the stairs.

#8: Lincoln’s Ghost [aka The White House Ghost]

Since the fateful night at Ford’s Theatre in 1865, countless people, from presidents to visiting statesmen and women to staff have reported seeing Abe’s ghost throughout the White House. Some have simply heard footsteps and knocking, and attributed the sounds to the deceased prez. However, in 1942, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard a knock at her guestroom door. When she answered, there stood the former president. The queen immediately fainted. Furthermore, Sir Winston Churchill, fresh from a bath was surprised to see Lincoln standing by his fireplace. The British Prime Minster, never to be outdone, bid him good evening and admitted himself at a disadvantage, to which the ghost reportedly smiled, as though amused, and vanished.

#7: Flying Dutchman

Not a person this time, but a ship. While there are variations to the legend, the basic story involves, Captain Hendrick van der Decken, who, in 1641, ignored the pleas of his crew to take safe harbor during a storm. He swore not even God could halt his course, and from that time on the Flying Dutchman and its entire crew were cursed. Accounts of the doomed ship have cropped up all over the world, with the ghost ship usually interpreted as an omen for a coming storm or death. The chilling tale of the doomed crew, first spread by sailors, has since seen its share of exposure in popular culture, however, inspiring everything from a Wagner opera, to the Pirates of the Caribbean, to SpongeBob SquarePants.

#6: The Ghosts of the Stanley Hotel

The inspiration for Stephen King's Overlook Hotel in "The Shining," the Stanley Hotel is said to be inhabited by many ghosts. Staff and guests have complained of bizarre sounds, objects moving on their own accord, and the piano in the dining room playing by itself at night. When the hotel opened in 1909, it was considered one of the pinnacle luxury hotels. However, first hauntings were reported as far back as 1911 after a housekeeper, Elizabeth Wilson, who was electrocuted – and survived - during a storm. Paranormal activity is frequently reported in room 217 and the concert hall. In early 2016, a tourist snapped some photographs of the empty lobby– only to find that perhaps he hadn’t been so alone after all.

#5: Bell Witch

A frightening 19th century tale, the Bell family of Adams, Tennessee had one serious ghost problem. The spirit, soon known as the Bell Witch, tormented the prominent farming family for years, upsetting furniture, assaulting them, cursing them, driving off the daughter’s suitor, and finally killing. People travelled from all over to witness the disturbing events, many of whom were chased away by the shrieking specter. In 1820, John Bell, the patriarch, was supposedly poisoned. According to the family, as he lay dying, they could hear the witch laughing. To this day, unaccountable disturbances are reported on the Red River Settlement, the site of the old Bell farm, and these disturbances thought to be the work of the violent witch.

#4: The Ghost of Anne Boleyn

The ghost of King Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife, Anne Boleyn, has been allegedly spotted throughout the UK. Most frequently she is seen at the Tower of London, where she spent her final days, was beheaded, and later buried. However, the queen has also been seen at the window of the Dean’s Cloister at Windsor Castle. Most dramatically, Boleyn is said to haunt Blickling Hall as well – a grand manor built on the old Boleyn family property. On the grounds, she is said to be occasionally seen arriving by a ghostly carriage, driven by headless horses and a headless coachman, while she herself holds her severed head on her lap. That’s one way to make an entrance.

#3: Banshee

A shadowy specter from Irish folklore, the name Banshee comes from the Gaelic words meaning Lady or Woman and Fairy – but she is no Tinker Bell. While more frequently heard than seen, this ghoul is said to appear as either an old hag or a beautiful woman, but always folded in a dark, ragged cloak, and with long, wild hair. Unlike most ghosts, banshees are not the lost souls of once living people, but more a force of nature. Her wailing is said to herald the approach of death, and to hear her cry is to know that someone in the family will soon die. Once a family hears the banshee screaming, there’s nothing they can do but wait for the inevitable.

#2: Bloody Mary

It’s an old slumber party standby. The blood-soaked woman is said to appear to anyone brave – or foolish – enough to stand in front of a mirror, at night, and say her name three times. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody – nope can’t. Scared. The ritual is the same, but results supposedly vary. Some say she will tell your future, others that she will scratch out the eyes of whoever called her. This ghost is said to be the spirit of Mary I of England, who earned her grisly moniker after having hundreds of Protestants butchered. The Bloody Mary legend has gone on to inspire many movies and TV shows. Personally, we prefer our Bloody Marys with a stalk of celery and lots of ice.

#1: Headless Horseman

Legends of horsemen, clad in black and headless, crop up everywhere, from Ireland, to Germany, to America, to India. In some tales, the horseman is either death itself, or death’s servant, but at other times it is a heroic figure – such as in Germany where he blows his horn (don’t ask how) to warn hunters of danger, or seeks out revenge on those who have committed serious crimes. But perhaps the most famous headless horseman is the ghastly villain of Washington Irving’s 1820 short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” where a headless rider chases off the schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, on a dark night – or goes on a murder spree, like in the Tim Burton adaptation. Your choice.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite legendary ghoul? For more haunting top ten published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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