Chillingham Castle – Britain’s Most Haunted Castle
In the 1200s, Chillingham Castle started as a monastery. It was built on the border between England and Scotland and was given to the Grey family in 1246. They were given permission to fortify the castle and it became a stronghold during many battles between the two countries. Generations of the family lived there over a span of eight hundred years before it was abandoned. It served various purposes after that, including an army barracks during WW2.
The castle was purchased in 1982 by Sir Humphrey Wakefield. His wife was the daughter of Lady Mary Grey, an ancestor of the Gray family. The Wakefields completely restored the castle. They preserved the castle’s original architecture, and live there to this day. But they aren’t the only ones. Rumor has it that several of the former inhabitants are still there.
Chillingham is considered one of the most haunted castles in the UK. It was the site of the deaths of both English and Scottish soldiers. Over seven thousand Scottish prisoners died in the dungeons, including women and children. Along with the usual cold spots, voices, and sounds – Chillingham has some regular spectral residents:
- John Sage – Sage was a soldier until he retired due to a leg injury. Then he was appointed to Chillingham’s torturer by King Edward. He liked his job a bit too much, torturing about fifty prisoners a week. When the war ended he killed all the children prisoners with an ax after he made them watch their parents be burnt alive. He dumped all the bodies in the lake. One night, while playing sex games on the castle’s rack with his lover Elizabeth, he accidentally strangled her. Her father was the leader of a powerful gang of outlaws called The Border Reivers. The Reivers threatened to join the Scots and attack the castle. King Edward had Sage condemned to be hanged. He didn’t die right away. While he hung, people cut off body parts to have as souvenirs. Both Sage and Elizabeth, along with the ghosts of Sage’s victims, have been seen in the Torture Chamber.
- The Chapel Ghosts – Men’s voices have been reported having a conversation in the chapel, but they stop talking as soon as someone tries to listen.
- The Haunting Witch – The portrait of a woman they call “The Haunting Witch” is hanging in the “Still Room”. She guards the room and is said to curse anyone who steals anything there.
- The White Pantry Ghost – The pantry used to store the castle’s silver. Legend has it that the guard fell asleep one night while guarding the silver, and woke up to a very frail woman asking him for a glass of water. Her ghost is still being seen to this day. They say that she is looking for water because she was poisoned.
- The Radiant Boy – The ghost of a young boy has been seen and heard in The Pink Room. Visitors have said that at midnight a young child is heard crying in the hallway. When the crying stops, a halo of light appears along with a boy dressed in blue. During the castle’s repairs, workers found the skeleton of a boy with scraps of blue clothing around him. The bones were buried and the sightings stopped for a while. Then guests started seeing a flash of blue light shooting out of the wall.
- Lady Berkley – Her husband Lord Grey abandoned her and her daughter. He ran away with her sister, Lady Henrietta. Lady Berkley died in the castle. People say that you can hear the rustle of her skirts and feel a chill in the air as she passes them.
- The Dungeon Ghosts – The castle dungeon has a twenty-foot hole in the ground called an Oubliette. The only way out of it was back up through the top. As you enter the dungeon you can see scratch marks on the wall made by fingers. People say that if you look down you can see a girl staring up at you. People have reported seeing orbs in there and feeling intense, unexpected sadness.
- The Tea Room and Minstrels Balcony Ghosts – The balcony is over the Tea Room. Legend has it that when the Tea Room was excavated, a giant toad-like creature came out of the wall, turned human, and disappeared. It supposedly still haunts the castle. People have reported being pushed on the room’s stairs. Some have gotten such intense headaches and/or nausea walking past the balcony that they considered jumping off.
There have been bones and skulls found in various places on the property, and the lake is full of them! People have also reported having their hair pulled or being pushed at many different locations on the property. Some staff members have claimed to hear a voice telling them to “get out”. Several investigations have been done in the property and people’s “ghosts meters” were (of course) lighting up all over the place. So is it people’s imagination based on the castle’s past, or is it really haunted? The answer to that my friends…we may never know.