Real Places Behind Famously Frightening Stories- page 8 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Real Places Behind Famously Frightening Stories

Discover old haunts that inspired thrills and chills in fiction and film

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holy Trinity Church
(Lee Pengelly / Alamy)

Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh, England

Richard Cabell was not a popular guy. Some said he was such a hellion that when he died in 1677, his neighbors built a sepulcher around his tomb in Holy Trinity’s cemetery to make sure he couldn’t get out; they even covered the actual grave with a heavy stone slab for good measure.

Such precautions, however, did not prevent Cabell’s hounds from surrounding the mausoleum at night, howling for their master to rise up and hunt with them across the moors of southern England. This legend grabbed the keen imagination of Conan Doyle when he visited Devon in the early 20th century, and he based one of his best-loved Sherlock Homes mysteries on those spectral hunters. In his story, giant paw prints found next to the savagely mutilated body of Sir Charles Baskerville led Holmes on a ghost-hunt.

Much of the 13th-century church burned in 1992. But Cabell’s vault is intact; peek through the barred windows if you dare.

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