Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Castles On Halloween

For some people Halloween is just another day; for others it's a special occasion when they might go to a Halloween party or watch a scary movie with friends. For some people though it's the opportunity to try and witness first hand the 'paranormal'. According to many websites there are special haunted castle trips available in Britain and of course Halloween is a popular time for booking these.

I can't say I would ever go on such a trip but apparently many people do and they really enjoy it. They don't all get to see ghosts of course but at the very least they can say they've visited a castle that's reputed to be haunted.

Chillingham Castle is one of Britain's most haunted castles and offers public tours of 'haunted areas of the castle and grounds'. It's also in one of Britain's most notable counties - Northumberland. If you're ever in the area it's well worth considering. For more information go to the castle's own official website and page.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Haunted Castles - Chillingham Castle

The second of our features on haunted castles in the lead up to Halloween and all things ghostly is about Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. Even the castle's name has 'chilling' in it - how spooky is that?!

A 12th century monastery and Norman stronghold, Chillingham Castle only became a fortified castle some 200 hundred years later. It has a rich history tied to key events on both sides of the England/Scotland border. King Edward I of England stayed there when he was on his way to do battle with William Wallace in Scotland. Side-tracking for just a moment, anyone interested in Scottish history and particularly the life of William Wallace should pay a visit to the marvellous Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. Having been there myself I can vouch for it being a worthwhile experience - you even get to see what is claimed to be Wallace's broadsword that he used in battle.

Back to Chillingham Castle ... stories abound about it being haunted. Two of the most notable ghosts claimed to have been seen at the castle are that of the 'Blue Boy' and that of Lady Mary Berkeley. Both are said to date back to events from the time of King Charles II of England. To read the full detail of both 'ghost stories' read our haunted Chillingham Castle page.

There are a number of haunted rooms in Chillingham Castle including the Great Hall, Minstrels Gallery and Chapel. Indeed, a good friend who once stayed overnight at Chillingham Castle said they were convinced the castle is haunted and that parts of the castle definitely had an eery feeling that they could not explain. Coming from the friend in question who is not given to flights of fancy and having read other accounts, I am more than a little inclined to believe that Chillingham Castle is possibly one of the most haunted places in all of Britain!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Medieval Court In Cumbria

Lanercost Priory is a fascinating place. Dating back to the late 12th century (1169 is the generally accepted year of construction of the Augustinian priory built by Robert de Vaux), it is a fine example of early medieval monastic architecture. Although the monks have long since left, it is still a place of worship today.

The Priory was visited no less than 3 times by King Edward I of England. During one stay which lasted for more than 5 months in 1306-1307, it became a 'royal palace' - something few monasteries could ever lay claim to. Edward brought the Seal with him to Lanercost and thus, for the duration of his stay, technically made this tiny Cumbrian village the centre of government for the whole of Britain. With the king came a large retinue of servants and although it benefited the local community by way of an increased demand for food, game, wine and fuel, it also brought great pressure to bear on the monks and others who were expected to serve without excuse or hesitation. One thing the king's stay did achieve, however, was to halt the previously commonplace attacks by the Scots raiding from across the border.

In 7 July 1307, after leaving the Priory and heading North towards Scotland, King Edward I took ill and died near Burgh by Sands in Cumbria (a large stone cross marking the spot can be seen there today).

His son became King Edward II but paid little attention to the North of his kingdom and, as a result, Scottish raids on the area around Lanercost became more frequent. This culminated in the attack on Lanercost Priory by Robert Bruce in 1311 and then later in 1346 by a large Scottish army which crossed the border and plundered the Priory. Although some rebuilding took place including a new roof over the Nave with further renovations continuing over the centuries, the Presbytery of Lanercost Priory still has no roof even today and remains open to the elements.

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For those interested in medieval castles, King Edward I also owned Skipton Castle (built in 1090) and visited both Norham Castle (built 1160) and Chillingham Castle (en route to do battle with William Wallace).

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