From North to South, a range of ghostly sightings have been reported in and around the castles of the United Kingdom. Castles are a big part of UK history and as such, they pull in thousands of tourists every year, with many people particularly interested in the ethereal residents. While some of the ghost stories about the castles are quite tame, others are not for the faint of heart. Here is a guide to five of the UK’s haunted castles, and the stories which make them so interesting to ghost hunters.
1. Berry Pomeroy Castle
Berry Pomeroy, Totnes
Berry Pomeroy Castle Website
Berry Pomeroy Castle is thought to be one of the most haunted castles in Britain. The castle was originally built in the 13th Century by the Pomeroy family. It was owned by the Pomeroys until the late 1540’s when it was taken over by Sir Edward Seymour (brother of Henry VIII’s wife, Jane Seymour). Sir Edward made some changes to the original castle but as he was so deeply unpopular, he was sentenced to death and executed just a few years later. The Seymour family continued to reside in the castle until 1668 when it was abandoned. The English Heritage took over Berry Pomeroy Castle in 1977 and it is still maintained by them now.
Haunting at Berry Pomeroy Castle
The most famous ghost sightings at Berry Pomeroy Castle are those of the White Lady and the Blue Lady. The White Lady lurks in the dungeons and rises from one of the towers. She has been seen beckoning to visitors on occasion. The White Lady is thought to be the ghost of Margaret Pomeroy. Margaret was allegedly locked in the dungeons by her sister Eleanor, who was believed to be jealous of Margaret’s looks. Margaret starved to death, hence her ghostly image mainly being seen in the depths of the castle.
The Blue Lady has been seen all over the Castle grounds and is said to lure people into the ruins. Legend suggests that the Blue Lady is the spirit of the daughter of a Norman Lord of the castle. She was raped by her father and the child born from the attack was then strangled by the father. Whenever her ghost is seen, it is considered a sign of suffering and death.
Strange lights have also been seen, voices heard and cold spots reported at Berry Pomeroy Castle, making it one of the spookiest places in the UK.
2. Ludlow Castle
Ludlow Town Centre, Shropshire
Ludlow Castle Website
Ludlow Castle was once a Norman Fortress and over the years it was gradually extended. It was eventually abandoned in 1689 and the castle fell into disrepair. Although it is now just ruins, it is open for the public to look around.
Haunting at Ludlow Castle
It is believed that the ghost of Marion La Bruyere haunts Ludlow Castle. La Bruyere was in love with an enemy of the castle’s Lord and she used to lower a rope down from the tower for him to climb up. One evening, La Bruyere’s lover left the rope hanging, allowing an army to climb in and invade the castle. When Marion La Bruyere realised what her lover had done, she killed him then threw herself from the tower. On quiet evenings, you may spot her ghost in the tower at dusk. Some say that if you visit on the anniversary of her death at the right time, you might even hear her screaming.
3. Scarborough Castle
Castle Road, Scarborough
Scarborough Castle Website
Scarborough Castle was founded by William Le Gros in the 12th Century. Over many years it was built up by medieval kings and was heavily fought over during the English Civil War.
Haunting at Scarborough Castle
The ghost of Scarborough Castle has been named as Piers Gaveston. You may remember his name if you read my Ghostly Dartmoor Legends article. Gaveston was a favourite of King Edward II but was beheaded after an unexplained falling out between the two. The headless ghost of Gaveston has been seen haunting the ruins of the castle, but more worryingly, has also thought to have attempted to lure people over the edge of the cliffs to their death. Many visitors have said that they felt as if they were being pushed and some reported that they heard an unusual laugh. A team of ghost hunters looked into these claims and discovered that when Piers Gaveston was alive, he was considered to be a practical joker who often hid in dark places within the castle and push or shove anyone who walked by.
4. Rochester Castle, Kent
London Road, Rochester
Rochester Castle Website
Rochester Castle was first built in around 1090. Four towers were added by Archbishop William de Corbell in 1127. After a heavy siege in the Middle Ages, the castle suffered great damage and was restored but damaged again in 1264. It was restored once again but after that it was left to fall in to ruin.
Haunting at Rochester Castle
Lady Blanche De Warren is thought to the ghost of Rochester Castle. A rejected love interest of Lady Blanche, by the name of Gilbert de Clare held a grudge after being denied by her and made his way into the Castle on Easter Sunday. He meant to attack Lady Blanche but her fiancée – Ralph de Capo – saw de Clare approaching. He shot an arrow at de Clare but although it hit his armour, the arrow bounced off and went through Lady Blanche’s heart. Every Easter, Lady Blanche de Warren re-enacts the scene in the hopes that the ending will be different.
5. Bodelwyddan Castle
Denbigshire, North Wales
Bodelwyddan Castle Website
The grounds where Bodewyddan Castle stand were founded before 1460, but the castle as it is now began being built roughly around 1830.
Haunting at Bodelwyddan Castle
Much like Berry Pomeroy Castle, there have been many different ghost sightings at Bodelwyddan. Ghosts have been spotted in hallways, mysterious voices have been heard, and some guests at the castle even reported feeling their hair being pulled. In spite of extensive research by ghost hunters, there is little to no information available about the ghosts which reside at the castle. Perhaps an overnight stay with the castle’s paranormal investigation team would give a better understanding….if you dare!
Haunted castles seem to hold a fascination for many tourists. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you really will see a ghost on your visit. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying though. Staff working at any of the castles will usually be happy to give you any information about hauntings they can, so even if you don’t witness it for yourself, you may get to hear some interesting tales!