Haunted Castles of Britain

Mow Cop ghost

Some of the most infamous British haunted castles.
Some of the most infamous British haunted castles.

Everybody, in the back of their mind, believes in ghosts. Your heart races for a second when you see a shadow move out of the corner of your eye, or you feel the presence of someone standing over you as you try to sleep, or a gaping face in the window almost makes you scream, but disappears as soon as you flip on the lights. You can dismiss the paranormal as simply a trick of the eyes, an illusion of the mind, or a fear of the unknown. You can explain any ghostly encounter logically as a natural phenomenon; we would be foolish not to. But try spending the night alone in one of the most haunted places in the world, like the castles of Britain, and all that logic and skepticism won’t help you when you’re battling red-eyed dog wraiths with an iron poker! Maybe, as skeptics, we should not disregard the countless ghost stories without first seeking out our own ghostly encounters. Using our sharply critical mind we should visit these haunted castles and try to discern the truth with our own eyes– and maybe we can get through the night without weeing ourselves.

Castles have been the setting for the bloodiest history, whether it be battles for ownership, the executions of traitors, or the torture of prisoners deep in its dungeons. This might explain why every fortress in Great Britain comes attached with its own ghost, or multiple spirits, haunting the grounds. Such a history of violence creates the strongest psychic echoes, and those cold, stone walls are ideal for containing the spirits of the past for centuries.

Glamis Castle, Scotland

Glamis Castle

Looking like something out of a Walt Disney fairy tale, Glamis Castle was originally a 14th century keep which has been extended over the years. The castle is the family seat of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorn dating back to the 15th century.  The great playwright William Shakespeare set part of ‘Macbeth’, or to be more accurate, the murder of King Duncan, within this castle’s walls, but today Glamis is probably best known as the family seat of the Bowes Lyons, and the home of the late Queen Elizabeth. As well as being a delight to look at, the castle made famous by Shakespeare’s Macbeth has a panoply of ghosts to frighten visitors and fascinate students of the paranormal.

The family chapel and the Clock Tower are haunted by a ‘White Lady’, who is only seen occasionally. She is believed to be the ghost of Janet Douglas who, in the 16th century, was married to John, sixth Lord of Glamis. She is said to have married Archibald Campbell after the death of her husband and brought him to live at Glamis Castle. Because of a long-standing hatred of the Douglas family by James V, the king had Janet imprisoned for many years in Edinburgh Castle on trumped-up charges of witchcraft. In an act which can only be described as spiteful, she was burnt at the stake on Castle Hill in 1537.  Her husband Archibald also died trying to flee from the castle, and even her son was held prisoner until after the death of King James.

Another ghostly tale tells of ‘Earl Beardie’, who has been identified with both Alexander Lyon, second Lord of Glamis, and Alexander Lindsay, fourth Earl of Crawford. Several versions exist, but they all involve “Earl Beardie” wanting to play a game of cards. However, because it was the Sabbath, none of his guests would accommodate him. Lord Beardie mockingly claimed that he would play on the Sabbath, until doomsday, with Satan himself. Lo and behold, later that night a stranger appeared at the castle, and, revealing himself as the Devil, snatched away Earl Beardie’s soul. To this day they are still playing cards in a secret, hidden room, condemned to gamble for eternity.

Glamis Castle is also haunted by a ‘Tongue-less woman’. She is said to be the spirit of a girl mutilated by castle guards for having illicit relations with the Earl. She has been spotted stumbling through the park, pointing at her disfigured face and bleeding mouth.

There is also the ghost of Jack the Runner, a black slave boy, said to have been killed by the Earl and his mounted party by their dogs in a variation of fox hunting.  He has been seen sitting on a stone seat by the Queen’s bedroom.

Monster of Glamis, Scotland
The Monster of Glamis

One of the more frightening and most famous tales of Glamis Castle is that of the ‘Monster’. This awful secret was once the talk of Europe. From perhaps the 1840s until 1905, the Earl’s ancestral seat at Glamis Castle, in the Scottish lowlands, was home to a “mystery of mysteries”. The tale tells that deep in the Castle of Glamis is a secret room. In this chamber is confined a monster, who is the rightful heir to the title and property, but is so terribly misshaped that it is necessary to keep him out of sight and out of possession. It was generally believed that this ‘Monster’ was a member of the Bowes-Lyon family, the first-born of the 11th Earl, or the heir of that Earl’s son, Lord Glamis. Apparently the boy was born so horribly deformed that the very sight of him invited madness. The poor infant was sent to a special hidden room and kept out of sight, as they expected him to die quickly. But he did not. The Monster lived on and grew to manhood, fed by a single trusted servant through a grate in his door. He was described to be fat and round like an egg, hairy as a doormat, his chest an enormous barrel, his head running straight into his shoulders and his arms and legs hanging nearly useless off his body. The tale goes on to say that on moonless nights, the same trusted servant would walk the Monster along the castle’s battlements, and that section is still to this day called “The Mad Earl’s Walk”. If Glamis really does have a secret chamber, its location, and that of the monster, remains hidden to this day.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

This mighty, Scottish fortress, built high upon the top of an extinct volcano, has stood strong since the 12th century. Although it appears impregnable, in 800 years, Edinburgh castle has taken part in numerous historic conflicts and wars, having been besieged both successfully and unsuccessfully many times. Deep in the bowels of Edinburgh castle, dark and damp dungeons lie hidden away having once been used for imprisonment and torture. Additionally there was construction of the vaults in the fifteenth century, but now those underground labyrinths of tunnels with 120 rooms are in an area known as Crown Square. At one point in history, the vaults were used to quarantine and eventually entomb victims of the plague. Archaeological evidence points back to the Iron Age, so Castle Rock and Edinburgh may very well be the longest continually occupied site in Scotland. With so much conflict and so much history, is it any wonder that many people swear Edinburgh Castle is haunted?

Situated spectacularly on a hill overlooking the city, Edinburgh castle has its share of thrilling ghost stories, including that of the headless drummer boy who appears whenever danger threatens, the Lost Piper who vanished one day while exploring the maze of tunnels beneath the castle, the spirits of French prisoners from the Seven Years War, and colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War– even the ghost of a dog wandering in the grounds’ cemetery.

As part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Dr. Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from Hertfordshire University in southeast England, enlisted the help of 240 volunteers to explore Edinburgh’s haunted sites in a 10-day study. Chosen from visitors from around the world, the volunteers were led in groups of 10 through the creepy, damp cellars, chambers and vaults. Wiseman and his team were equipped with “ghost-detecting” devices, such as night vision cameras, geo-magnetic sensors, thermal imagers, and temperature probes. Only those who knew nothing about Edinburgh’s legendary hauntings were allowed to participate, yet by the end of the experiment, nearly half reported phenomena that they could not explain. Wiseman tried to be as scientific as possible about the study. The volunteers were not told which particular cells or vaults had previous claims of strange activity. They were taken to locations with a reputation for being haunted as well as vaults with no history of activity at all. Yet the highest number of paranormal experiences by the volunteers was reported to take place in the very areas that did have the haunted reputations.

Reported experiences included: sudden drops in temperature, seeing shadowy figures, a feeling of being watched, one person reported a burning sensation on the arm, an unseen presence touching the face, the feeling of something tugging at clothes. One reported sighting was of a spectre in a leather apron – a ghost that has been seen before at the same location. One of the most interesting overnight experiments involved enclosing a young woman in one of the dark South Bridge vaults, alone – an experience that brought her to tears. The volunteer was placed in the room with a video camera so she could record what she saw, heard or felt. “Almost immediately,” Wiseman said, “she reported hearing breathing from a corner of the room, which was getting louder. She thought she saw a flash or some sort of light in the corner, but didn’t want to look back.” Wiseman, a skeptic who has in the past attempted to expose the myths of several British hauntings, admitted his surprise at the results. “The events that have been taking place over the last 10 days are much more extreme than we expected,” he said. The city of Edinburgh is still regarded by many today to be the most haunted city in the world and ghostly tours are a major part of the tourist attraction.

Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Castle has existed since the 13th century and, throughout the years, has been involved in various border skirmishes between England and Scotland.

The castle contains many ancient and historif rooms including the Edward I room, the banqueting hall, the James I drawing room and the castle library.  On the darker side, Chillingham also contains a medieval torture chamber complete with rack, nailed barrel, spiked chair, thumbscrews, iron maiden, cages, branding irons and many other nasty devices.  There is even a dungeon where, through a trap door in the floor, the skeletal remains of a child may be seen in the vault below!

Several ghosts are known to wander the castle’s timeworn interior. The most famous is that of the “Radiant Boy”, a childish wraith that is seen in the castle’s Pink Room, and whose heart rendering cries of either fear or pain echo through the corridors upon the stroke of midnight. In the past, cries always seemed to emanate from a spot near where a passage is cut though the 10-feet thick wall into the adjoining tower. As they faded away, a bright halo of light would appear, and the figure of a young boy, dressed in blue and in the style from the period King Charles II, would approach those sleeping in the room.

Blue boy
The Radiant Boy

Later, during excavations, the bones of a child, surrounded by decaying fragments of blue cloth, were found behind the wall. They were given a Christian burial, and thereafter the “Radiant Boy” was seen no more – until Sir Humphrey began leasing the room. Some guests complained about a blue flash that shot out of the wall in the dead of night. Although they attributed it to an electrical fault, Sir Humphrey was quick to point out that there is no electrical wiring in that particular section of the wall.

Another disturbed soul to stalk the castle is the spirit of Lady Berkeley, wife of Lord Grey, whose husband ran off with her own sister, Lady Henrietta. Lady Berkeley was left abandoned at the castle, with only her baby daughter for company. The rustle of her dress is sometimes heard as her anguished spirit sweeps along the lonely corridors searching for her husband for all eternity.

hermitage castle

Hermitage Castle

Hermitage Castle has a long and colourful history; the castle was a bastion of power in the ‘debatable land’ that was exchanged between English and Scottish hands during the border wars and skirmishes. Before the fortress was built the area may have been the retreat of a holy man or a group of holy men as the name ‘Hermitage’ suggests. Hermitage castle is thick with folklore and legend, and there have been reports of strange phenomena in recent years.

The most famous piece of folklore concerns a character known as ‘Bad Lord Soulis’, real name ‘William de Soulis’, who owned the castle in the past. Within its walls, Soulis entered into a pact with a horrific, supernatural creature named Robin Redcap, who gave him a degree of invulnerability in exchange for the blood of the innocent.

Robin Redcap
Robin Redcap

A Redcap, more properly known as a powrie or dunter, is a sinister elemental of British folklore, a fanged, goblin-like being, fleet of foot and having a need for human blood. When a traveller wanders into the elemental’s lair, the Redcap murders the unsuspecting soul and uses the spilled blood to dye its hat – thus the name “Redcap.” Redcap goblins kill frequently, out of a sense of necessity, for according to the nature of a Redcap, if the blood which dyes its cap should dry out the monster will die.

Robin Redcap promised Lord Soulis that he would not be harmed by forged steel or ever be bound by rope. Freed from fear of retribution, it is said that De Soulis terrorized the Scottish countryside without opposition, taking men, women, or children at will. Eventually the people rebelled against him and went to the king, who agreed he could be disposed of. Binding Soulis with a specially forged chain which his supernaturally endowed powers could not overcome, they took him up to Nine Stane Rigg, a stone circle crowning a nearby hill top, wrapped him in lead and boiled him to death in a brass cauldron.

Legend has it that every seven years, the spirit of De Soulis returns to Hermitage Castle to meet with Robin Redcap, who now owns his soul, and you can hear the cries of Lord Soulis’ victims from within the bowels of the castle.

muncaster castle

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle, situated near Ravenglass in Cumbria, is believed to be haunted by at least four different ghosts.

The first is said to be Henry the VI, who was murdered in the Tower of London after Edward IV won a victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Henry’s spirit has been seen in the chamber he occupied before his death, perhaps the place he felt happy in the company of his loyal subjects.

The other two ghosts appear to be tethered together into one tragedy, one being the victim, while the other being quite deserving of death. Ferdinand Pennington, who was the lord of Muncaster Castle back in the 16th century, had a daughter named Helwise. Helwise was in a romantic relationship with a carpenter from town, to the dismay of her father. Lord Pennington did not want to see his daughter in love with a commoner, so he summoned his Jester, Thomas Skelton, and asked him to find a way to end the relationship.

Thomas Skelton
Thomas Skelton

Unfortunately Tom the Fool was deranged. Every day Tom would sit underneath his favourite chestnut tree by the road and if any wayfarers came upon him asking for directions, he would direct them to nearby quicksand rather to the London Road which they would be seeking. He was a villain, and the wrong person for Lord Pennington to ask to deal with his daughter’s lover.

Tom found the carpenter in town and offered for him to come up to the castle. The carpenter gladly accepted, hoping this offer meant Helwise’s father was finally warming up to him. They drank by the fire all night long, the carpenter graciously accepting a refill of ale from the Fool every time he’d emptied his mug, until the carpenter finally passed out of drunkenness. Gleefully, Tom Fool sawed off the carpenter’s head, and dragged his body outside to be thrown into the quicksand. The next day, Tom Fool happily presented the carpenter’s head to Lord Pennington. It is not recorded how exactly Lord Pennington reacted, but you can imagine he would have been surprised to say the least.

The headless body of the carpenter can be seen stalking the battlements of Muncaster Castle while the phantom of Tom Fool is a poltergeist that plays tricks to frighten visitors; he is seen often in the Tapestry Room, which is said to be the most haunted location of the castle.

bodelwyddan castle

Bodelwyddan Castle

The history of the castle and estate of Bodelwyddan extends back before 1460, originally built by the Humphrey’s family of Anglesey as a manor house. It was extended and built over a 200 year period by the Williams family when it was purchased in 1680 by Sir William Williams, who was then a speaker in the House of Commons. The Williams family made their fortune from lead mining until the 1850’s when this income source dried up.

Many mystery ghosts have been spotted at Bodelwyddan Castle in north Wales. In 1829, during one of the periods of restoration, it was noted in the diary of Sir John Hay Williams that human bones of a very tall man were found near one of the chimneys. Sir John also stated that he had the bones built back into the wall, which means they are still there to this day. Could this be the cause of the paranormal activity at Bodelwyddan Castle? Or is there something else in the castle’s history?

There have been many ghostly happenings reported over the past few years. Many people report the sense that somebody is following them. Shadowy figures and disembodied legs have been seen stalking the corridors and then disappearing through the walls. There have been unexplained voices, flickering lights, and unusual sounds in the cellar. Some visitors have felt their hair being pulled when they’re alone. A few ghosts have been spotted including a Blue Lady who has often been seen wandering through the kitchen rattling plates and pans, a mysterious woman in a flowing dress in the Sculpture Gallery as well as a World War I soldier in one of the galleries (Bodelwyddan Castle was used as an officers mess and a recuperation centre during the First World War).

The interesting thing about this haunted castle is that its history does not hold tragedy or violence, yet it seems to be extremely haunted. Full apparitions of spirits have been seen, but we have no clues to who they are and why they still remain.

tutbury castle

Tutbury Castle

Tutbury Castle is now not much more than a ruin, thanks to Oliver Cromwell who ordered the destruction of the fortress after it harboured King Charles I during the English Civil War. But wouldn’t you agree that the broken-down, ruined castles are the spookiest?

The ruins of Tutbury are home to many different ghosts, but there are two popular ones. One of them, nicknamed ‘The Keeper’, is the spirit of a soldier guarding the castle. If seen, he will be at Gaunt’s Gateway, bellowing “Get thee hence!” and try to keep you from entering.

Another famous ghost at Tutbury is the spirit of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary suffered much during her imprisonment at the castle as a captive of Elizabeth 1st on four occasions.

More recently, in 2004, at approximately midnight, Mary was seen standing at the top of the South Tower by over 40 men – a figure dressed in a pure white gown. When everyone saw her they all just laughed – believing the Curator was teasing them by putting on an Elizabethan gown as a joke. When it was pointed out that curator does not have a white gown, and neither do any other Elizabethan enactors who work at the Castle, the men were profoundly disturbed by this sighting – a particularly important sighting as there were so many who saw her. She was also seen rapidly crossing the grass, one hot afternoon in 1984, by a serving Marine.

Lately there have been a number of sightings of Mary – especially between 10.15 p.m. and 11.00 p.m. A figure, dressed in black, is seen standing at the window of the Great Hall as cars leave the Castle. In May and June this year she was not only seen by senior members of staff, who are usually quite dismissive of such reports, she was also seen by archaeologists participating in a seasonal dig at the castle.

tamworth castle

Tamworth Castle

Tamworth Castle, with its well preserved multi-angled keep, has stood high on a mound overlooking the River Tame since the late 12th century. The castle was first constructed in 913 AD by Alfred the Great’s daughter then later, William the Conqueror, after his Norman Conquest, gave the land to his supporter Robert De Marmion who set about constructing the keep and curtain walls visible today. Over the centuries the castle was passed from one powerful family to the next and was visited by many Kings and Queens. It narrowly escaped being destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1643.

Black Lady of Tamworth
Black Lady of Tamworth

The middle chamber of the Norman tower is called ‘the ghost room’, where the spirit known as the ‘Black Lady of Tamworth’ has been sighted. The Black Lady is supposedly the ghost of a nun named Editha, who founded her order in the 9th century. The nuns were said to have been expelled from their Convent by Robert de Marmion. In their despair, the nuns prayed to Editha from beyond the grave to help them. Legend has it that one night, after enjoying an extravagant banquet, Robert Marmion was attacked by Editha’s angry spirit. She warned him that unless the nuns could return to their convent, the Baron would succumb to a terrible death. Just before she vanished the spectre hit the Baron on the side with the point of her crosier. The wound from the blow was so terrible that Marmion’s cries awoke the whole Castle. His pain only ceased when Robert vowed to return the nuns to their Convent in Polesworth.

Apart from the Black Lady many people have claimed to have seen another phantom known as the White Lady. The White Lady was said to have been kidnapped and imprisoned in the tower by the wicked knight, Sir Tarquin. Despite this she fell deeply in love with her abductor. However, a Sir Lancelot du Lac was determined to rescue her. When he arrived at the castle he drew his sword and slew Sir Tarquin in front of her eyes. The White Lady was so distraught that she threw herself from the battlements. Her ghost has often been seen walking the battlements and her mournful cries heard.

There have been a few other ghostly encounters. Late one night a member of staff was alone in the castle. She was waiting in the reception area while an engineer was outside checking the alarm system. She was startled to hear footsteps and furniture moving in the room above. The staff member knew that nobody could be in that room. Although she had experienced odd things before, this time she was overcome with fear and ran out of the building, where she met the alarm engineer. He told her that he had seen a strange figure looking down at him from one of the windows.

Another member of staff was working in the Tamworth Story room when she felt as if someone had thrown sand into her eyes. At the same time her colleague saw a blue mist swirl around the room. A member of the public had an almost identical experience just outside a room known as the Haunted Bedroom. He felt as though somebody had thrown something in his eyes and then rush past him.

warwick castle

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle, which proudly displays more than 1,000 pieces of arms and armour in the Great Hall, possesses an extensive history spanning more than 1,000 years. Warwick Castle was associated with various historic events including the Norman conquest of England, Hundred Years’ War between England and France, and the War of the Roses. Following the War of the Roses, a peaceful existence began at the castle. Moreover, it served as the home to the mighty Earls of Warwick.

For those who come to this epitome of English castles seeking encounters of a more spine-tingling nature, the Watergate tower, or, the “Ghost Tower”, is the place to visit. Sir Fulke Greville was granted Warwick Castle by King James I in 1604. At the time, the place had been unoccupied for 14 years and was in a ruinous condition. Fortunately, Greville, as well as being a fine poet and playwright, was a rich and influential man, who slowly converted Warwick Castle into “the most princely seat within the midlands part of this realm.” Greville served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1614 to 1621. He was later raised to the peerage as Baron Brooke, and then appointed Commissioner of the Treasury.

Seven years later, thoughts of his own mortality led Greville to draw up a will. He had never married and had no children, so he decided to make slight provision for his servant, Ralph Haywood. Haywood was not impressed with the paltry bequest and, in a fit of rage, stabbed his master while helping him dress at his house in London. It took the unfortunate Greville a month to die, his agony compounded by the surgeon’s insistence on packing the wound with mutton fat.

He was brought back to Warwick Castle, and his tomb can still be seen in nearby St. Mary’s Church. Greville’s ghost returns to the castle to walk the room that was once his study. Here witnesses have reported catching fleeting glimpses of his sad shade haunting the Watergate tower, staring at them from the dark corners, or feeling his presence at the place where he once composed such prophetic lines as:

“If Nature did not take delight in blood, she would have made more easy ways to good.”

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

The official residence of Her Majesty the Queen plays host to a number of illustrious ghosts including Charles I, George III, Henry VIII and his wife Anne Boleyn. Only certain parts of the castle are open to visitors, and only during the day, so you may not get to see any of the famous ghosts even if they make an appearance, but you never know!

Haunted castles come in all shapes and sizes, however, you won’t find one anywhere in Britain that is bigger than this. If that is not enough, the Windsor Castle ghosts are probably more numerous and have a higher pedigree than spectres to be found in any other haunted building in England. In sheer numbers, they even out-do the many Tower of London ghosts. But then there are 10 monarchs buried at Windsor Castle, so maybe it is not too surprising.

Windsor Castle was constructed by William the Conqueror and it is one of the largest castles as well as the oldest continuously occupied castle in the world.  William chose this site because it was a day’s march from the Tower of London and it would make a good fortress to guard the western approaches to the capital.

It is also said to be the present Queen’s favourite residence and interestingly enough one of the ghosts said to haunt Windsor Castle is that of her namesake Elizabeth 1st.  Apparently she glides through the library wall into a locked up room and also on occasions her presence is felt or perhaps her footsteps heard in other areas of the castle.

King Charles I is said to have on occasion haunted the Canons house in the area of the castle’s St George’s Chapel where Cromwell imprisoned him. Nearby in the deanery of the chapel, there is also a ghost of a small boy who regularly shouts “I don’t want to go riding today,” and following this, his footsteps can be heard moving away.

On the castle grounds in 1906 one of the sentries from the Coldstream Guards was on patrol in the East Terrace when he saw a group of men.  Naturally he challenged them but he received no answer and he opened fire only to see his bullets passed straight through them! Apparently he then charged the group but they just disappeared.

Herne the Hunter, Windsor Castle, England
Herne the Hunter

The most famous ghost associated with Windsor Castle may be found in the depths of Windsor Forest.  His name is ‘Herne the Hunter’ and he is even referred to in Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’.  The story goes that Herne was Richard II’s favourite huntsman who had at one time saved the King’s life whilst unfortunately being wounded at the same time.  Eventually, Herne made a complete recovery and as the King had promised him, he was made head huntsman.  Sadly however he was soon dismissed from his post because he appeared to have lost all his skills and in a deep depression he hanged himself from the branch of an oak tree in Windsor Forest.  It is said that on certain dark, stormy nights, a ghostly gang of hunters, with Herne in the lead, can be seen galloping through Windsor Park along with a pack of phantom hounds! Any sighting of Herne and his hunters is considered to be a terrible omen, a sign that something tragic will soon occur.

leeds castle

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold, royal residence for six different Queens, palace for Henry VIII, and is one of the loveliest castles in England. It sits on two small islands in a lake, and has survived for 1,000 years. The castle has a very tranquil feel to it with its gardens and fairy-tale setting, but it does have a dark side for some of its occupants.

The Black Hound
The Black Hound

The main ghost that is said to haunt Leeds fortress is a black dog which would ‘appear and disappear within moments, sometimes fading into a wall or passing through a closed door.’ The hound is said to terrorize the castle grounds. The dog has come to be associated with a death or other misfortune befalling a member of the castle owner’s family. This is strange, given the fact that many years ago a woman was sitting by a window when she saw the dog disappearing into a wall. The woman went to investigate the creature when the window by which she had been sitting suddenly collapsed, the masonry landing on the spot where she had been just moments before. The dog’s origins are said to lie in the demonic dabbling of Henry VI’s aunt, Eleanor of Gloucester, who in 1431 was found guilty of practising “necromancy, witchcraft, heresy and treason,” and was imprisoned at Leeds castle for life. Perhaps the hound was leftover from some ancient spell cast by this formidable lady, and has lingered around the property ever since.

berry pomeroy castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle, a once mighty fortress, today is now no more than a ruin. It used to be the stronghold of the powerful de Pomeroy family, who came over during the Norman Conquest, and was constructed towards the end of the 13th century by Henry de Pomeroy. His predecessor Ralf de Pomeroy had been given the land as a reward for his loyalty during the Norman invasion and at the Battle of Hastings.

Berry Pomeroy Castle was still in the hands of the Pomeroy family until the late 1540s when it fell under the control of Sir Edward Seymour who was the Lord Protector and the brother of Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII. It was Edward who commissioned the building of a manor house within the Norman castle and thus created the mixed architectural styles which can be seen today. Edward unfortunately made many enemies and was eventually executed in the Tower of London in 1552 AD. After this time, the castle remained in the hands of the Seymour family until 1688 when it was eventually abandoned.

Inside the crumbling walls of this great castle, several ghosts are said to wander. Beneath the Margaret’s tower, reached by a winding stone staircase leading to a dark dungeon, haunts the ‘White Lady’. There is a dreadful feeling of foreboding to be found. It is said that here, the evil Eleanor de Pomeroy in a cruel act of spite, imprisoned and starved her sister Margaret to death because they both fell in love with the same man. Margaret’s misty form has been said to appear in the depths of the tower and many have said that they have felt her presence in the stairway leading to her former prison cell.

A ‘Blue Lady’ apparently haunts the 16th century manor house. It is thought that the Blue Lady ghost was the daughter of a Norman Lord who was raped by her own father in the castle. Varying accounts of the legend say that either the girl or her father strangled the resulting child in one of the castles upper rooms, leaving her forever doomed to wander the castle in painful regret. She is also reportedly seen beckoning to visitors from the shadows. The consensus is that it’s not a good idea to follow her.

The White Lady, Ghost
The White Lady

What is a ghost, exactly? A distant echo of a tragedy long passed? Or the tortured fragment of some poor soul, bound to remain for as long as the earth turns? For all of recorded history people have tried to commune with and understand the spirits. Even now, paranormal investigators struggle to find evidence and to determine the mysteries behind hauntings. But that’s the problem– there’s a lot of evidence, a lot of hearsay, and no proof. It could all be within our heads. Whatever the case may be, there’s something peculiar going down in many of Britain’s castles and manors. A world of our darkest nightmares and worst fears lie within those ancient walls of stone, and perhaps the answer to the ultimate mystery: is there life after death, and if so, life of what kind?

1 thought on “Haunted Castles of Britain”

  1. I have often wondered if I may be a distant descendant of the Pomeroy’s connected to this castle. Having had a number of tragic events happen in my family.


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