BEAMISH MUSEUM, Co. Durham – The mad woman in the Victorian town house, her violin screaming out a diabolical song.
The “tra-la-laa-ing” girl in the woods; her wicker basket filled, not with a picnic, but a wolf’s head.
And the clown, his starched face screaming out of the dark vault of a deserted bank, just waiting for you to venture near.
Halloween at Beamish – The Living Museum of the North – is something else, I can tell you.
I had no idea what to expect when we arrived for Halloween at Beamish Museum, County Durham.
I knew Beamish was an open-air museum, with a town, village, farm, railway station and colliery (to name but a few). But I didn’t know how real Beamish Museum was.
I didn’t know that every brick, every door, every fixture and fitting of Beamish had once stood pride of place in a real Victorian or Edwardian community.
I didn’t know that each building, shop and house in Beamish had been masterfully transported from where it existed originally – and rebuilt brick-by-brick here, in the sprawling Durham countryside.
You can visit the 19th-century pub – The Sun Inn – and grab a pint. You can skulk around the mighty Masonic hall and sit in the judge’s chair.
You can squeeze into the tiny wooden chairs of the 1820’s Board School and be taught Victorian manners.
And you can even venture into Davy’s Fish Shop to enjoy a portion of chips, wrapped in newspaper and cooked the traditional way – in real beef dripping.
Throw a cast of zombies, ghouls and skeletons into this historical wonderland and Beamish becomes the North East’s most exhilarating – and possibly the most popular – Halloween experience.
In fact, as we queued to get into Beamish (our faces painted and our costumes on), hundreds of people in Halloween costumes poured down the hill from the car-park to queue with us. I have never seen so many people dressed up – it was astonishing.
We saw kids dressed as zombies, mums dressed as ghosts, dads dressed as skeletons, and grannies and grandads so perfectly disguised it was difficult to tell if they were Beamish staff or not.
But, at one point, I was. And, as I turned to look behind me, I realised I was not alone.
Onwards we went, to the Colliery Village, stopping by a hissing campfire where a man with eyes on his palms told a spooky story about bone soup.
We knocked on the door...1…2…3...
And then he growled, “Happy Halloween”…
… as he did, a man burst from the cupboard, writhing on the floor, and grabbing at our stampeding feet as they vanished out of the door.
Nothing creepy here, right?
With our bellies thinking our throats had been cut, we ventured from the pit village back to the town – hopping on a 1930’s bus to get us there (just one of the many beautiful Beamish vehicles you can ride on).
It was the creepiest bus journey ever.
Behold Exhibit Z:
Could our fluttering hearts cope with more Beamish Halloween scares?
They’d have to – we still had the houses of Ravensworth Terrace, complete with their sinister occupants, beckoning us in.
Afterwards, the kids soaked their petrified nerves in sugar, courtesy of the traditional Sweet Shop in Town.
Whilst the adults – well, they turned to the only thing they could to fully recover from this extraordinary Beamish fright night: Gin.
Served with a Halloween twist.
We drank our gins to the continuing good health of Beamish – The Living Museum of the North and bid farewell to the museum’s fiendish occupants.
No more scares for us. Just one last one for you. Mmmmmwwwoha ha haaaaaaa.
When: Halloween at Beamish runs this year on 29th, 30th and 31st October
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Parking: It’s free and the car parks are huge
Cost: Adults £13, Children (3 – 16 years) £9 – prebooking is essential!
Other important stuff: You’re welcome to go in fancy dress. In fact, most people do. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.