IF you have ever felt curious enough about ghosts to want to hunt them down for yourself, then a new book, entitled Haunted Places of Dorset, may be just the guide you need.

The book, written by Rupert Matthews, details a wide range of phantoms, spooks and spectres that are reported to exist in a variety of locations all over the county.

Some of the apparitions detailed are famous figures such as the phantom of the handsome Duke of Monmouth, who rides a white horse up from the harbour at Lyme Regis, or the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh, who walks in the grounds of Sherborne Castle, where he once lived.

At Corfe Castle, Lady Bankes is reported to walk just outside the main walls of the castle that she had bravely tried to hold against besieging Parliamentarians in the Civil War.

Other apparitions are more mysterious and appear in less dramatic settings. There is a haunted dress in Bridport Museum, a phantom lady, who stands in a pub car park in Chideock and a phantom coffin that has been reported by several people to be lying on a verge beside the B3078, near Wimborne Minster where several other hauntings are also reported.

Many seaside locations are also reportedly haunted. In Kimmeridge a phantom smuggler appears on moonlit nights running along the edge of the sea in panic. When he reaches the end of the bay and a sheer cliff, he plunges into the sea. The book tells us that blood-curdling screams can be heard.

At Lulworth Cove, ghostly dancers were first seen during World War Two, when the beach was covered in barbed wire and mines, making it impossible for any mortal being to walk them. The dancers have been seen several times since, once by a man who had anchored his yacht in the cove who reported that once they had finished dancing, the figures walked into the sea and vanished.

At Bindon Abbey, an ancient stone bridge crosses the Frome, and is haunted by the famous spectral Turbeville Coach. The coach is said to gallop over the bridge, bringing bad luck to any who see it, however, only a member of the local Turbeville family, who were fictionalised in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, can see it. Others can only hear the carriage thundering by.

Bournemouth is said to be home to "younger ghosts", including the ghosts of a soldier wearing a World War Two uniform and a horse that both haunt the Town Hall. The Crown Hotel in Poole is also famously host to several spooky goings on, such as lights turning on and off and the ghostly sound of a piano being played in the former stables.

Other reported hauntings in East Dorset on the author's trail include: Chettle: The armless phantom of a poacher who was caught and jailed after a bloody struggle.

Tarrant Gunville: The ghost believed to be a dishonest 18th century estate manager at Eastbury House.

Bottlebush Down: A ghostly horseman, perhaps dating back to the Bronze Age who could be the oldest phantom in the county or even England.

Knowlton: Ghosts are said to belong to pagan times.

Blandford: The Army base has been the focus of rumours of hauntings.

Badbury Rings: Shadowy "post-Roman" figures armed with spears and shields have been seen.

Longham: The ghost of a lady in a long dress has been sighted by people out in their gardens and another ghoslty lady has been reported close to the church.

Lytchett Matravers: Some say they have heard whispering ghosts among other presences.

Culpepper's Dish near Affpuddle: Said to be haunted by a phantom funeral.

Cloud's Hill: A sound may be heard that some claim is the phantom recreation of the crash that claimed Lawrence of Arabia's life.

Bovington: The ghost of "Herman the German" is thought to haunt the Tank Museum.

Kingston: A phantom of an elderly lady has been reported pottering through the bar of the inn.

Studland: Listen out for the singing sands on the coast that some believe to be supernatural.. though scientists disagree. On the heath, too, some say, can be see the ghost of a donkey, said to have belonged to a fisherman who died of exposure after being attacked and left unconscious by a deserter. Rest easy it just munches grass!

In his introduction, the author of the book, Rupert Matthews says: "Are there such things as ghosts? Many would doubt it, but probably not after they had visited the haunted places of Dorset."

Put it to the test - if you dare!

  • Haunted Places of Dorset, by Rupert Matthews, is published by Countryside Books at £7.99 and is out now.