Admit it. There’s just something fun about getting scared. Maybe it’s that rush of adrenaline. Maybe it’s the relief when it’s over. Either way, it’s easy to why so many people are attracted to horror movies and “haunted” attractions.
Lucky for you, some of the best scares and creepiest places don’t have to be found on-screen or in a haunted house.
Some of the most interesting and haunted places lie waiting to be visited right on the Middle Peninsula.
Imagine you’re lost in the woods at night.
As you creep through the brush and past the trees, you reach a clearing.
You peer out and see a mass on the opposite side of the clearing.
Only sparsely lit by the moon, you tentatively step closer, curious as to what could possibly be facing you.
Finally, you get a true look. Red brick is overgrown with twisting vines, three stories tall. The frame is visible, windows, doorframe, and columns lie dormant.
Imposing and totally abandoned and in ruin, what you’re looking at are the ruins of Rosewell Plantation.
On the banks of the York River in Gloucester Point, just a couple miles from the Coleman Bridge, stands Rosewell.
Belonging to the Page family, the mansion was built in 1725. John Page, grandson of the builder, attended the College of William and Mary with Thomas Jefferson himself and it was “here that the two young patriots,” Rosewell writes on its web site, “first began to explore what lay ahead of the emerging nation in which they would play such an important role.
Over the decades, the plantation and mansion became a symbol of Gloucester County and its more affluent families. It changed here and there with different owners and varying economic conditions, however, the most major change occurred in 1916 when disaster struck.
That year, the mansion was almost totally destroyed in a major fire. All that remains are the four chimneys, the east wall, and the wine cellar making for a rather austere and imposing set of ruins.
Where does the haunting come from? Glad you asked.
One of the more popular theories surrounding the mysterious fire is that one of the many slaves placed a curse on the house and its owners. Many visitors record hearing voices in the fields, fluctuating temperatures, and even apparitions walking among the ruined brick and overgrown flora.
Colonial Ghosts called it one of the top 10 most haunted areas in Tidewater, Virginia, writing that “music (like from a harpsichord) is heard playing, guests are seen descending down invisible stairs, boys with lanterns stand where doorways once were, and a woman in a red cloak rushes into a rose garden. Some of the phenomena are sounds that sound like slaves coming in from the fields. One of the eeriest tales is of a couple who found their exit blocked by a car with 1930s plates. As they got out of their vehicle and went to see what the matter was, they saw a pale woman peering through the back window. They knocked on the window, but no one rolled down the window, so they peered in an found no one in the car. They found out later no one owned a car from that era. The hoof beats of horses have also been heard, when no sign of a horse has been seen.”
Need more? Go see for yourself and stay in touch with the Rosewell Foundation, which hosts official ghost tours nearly every year.
Old House Woods
In Mathews County lies Old House Woods which, from the name alone sounds a bit like the opening scene in a campfire scare story.
Near Haven Beach on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, Old House Woods has become known for being a prime location for spooky happenings and has been called one of the most haunted locations in the Commonwealth.
Buried treasure. Pirates. Shipwrecks. Ghosts. It’s all part of the tales.
The Fairfield Foundation even explored its oral history and folklore, which you can read more about here.
To get to Old House Woods, you take Old House Woods Road – a narrow road encompassed by tall, imposing evergreens. If the desolate road doesn’t strike you as scary enough, maybe the house will.
Serving as the namesake for the road, slightly hidden by forest lies the old, abandoned house that is eerily similar to the ending of The Blair Witch Project. Two stories tall, chipped paint, broken windows, and a disturbing lack of any presences or surrounding buildings in proximity make it genuinely unnerving. This is only exacerbated by the huge amount of reported supernatural activity nearby.
This area of the Chesapeake Bay itself is partially known for ghostly sightings, including spectral ships with dead sailors aboard traveling the Bay in a fog, forever. Others claim to have seen Revolutionary War soldiers marching and, in a slightly less believable sense, even pirates scrambling to bury treasure.
On the actual Old House Woods Road, headless specters, skeletons, and even ghostly livestock have been spotted for a split second until they disappear into the mist.
Most fascinatingly is the Storm Woman.
According to local legend, the Storm Woman assumes the figure of an adult woman, with light hair and a faded nightgown. Appearing during storms and heavy winds, the Storm Woman supposedly floats above the canopy of the trees along the road to scream in attempt to warn sailors of potential doom.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll see her yourself.
Keep these little local haunts in mind the next time you are in the mood for something a little more real than just a haunted house or corn maze. Is any of this true? That’s for you to decide.