The sun is going down. The walls of the castle stand in silhouette against a darkening sky. In the gloom something flutters overhead. Is it an owl, a bat, or something more sinister? A fox calls in the distance and there’s a flurry of panicking rabbits scampering away in the long, damp grass. From a narrow, iron-barred recess in one of the round towers, where archers used to stand and fire their arrows at invading enemies, a noisy family of crows add to the eerie atmosphere, their strangled, guttural calls choing off the walls. A fine mist starts to coil up out of the moat and cloak the surrounding meadowland…
This place is haunted
If you wander through any of the castles dotted around our coast and countryside don’t be surprised if you come face to face with any number of apparitions. At the fairy tale like Bodiam Castle there have been reports of a lady in red who is often seen looking out from one of the towers on a moonlight night. Also keep your eyes open for a young boy who has been spotted running onto the bridge before disappearing into thin air!
Near the spot where William the Conqueror landed, lay the ruins of Pevensey Castle, originally a Roman fort it was refortified by the Normans after the battle of Hastings. A “grey or pale Lady ” is reputed to haunt the inside of the castle. She has been seen pacing up and down one of the parapets. There has been much speculation as to whom she might be. Some say it is the ghost of Lady Joan Pelham, whose husband took over the castle in 1394. He was called away with his troops to help fight a battle in the north and Lady Joan was left at Pevensey in charge of the castle. With most of the soldiers gone, the castle was besieged by an invading army. Trapped inside, Lady Helen did not know whether she would survive or if she would see her husband again. In a letter smuggled out to him she wrote, “I am laid here in a manner of siege… that I may not out nor no victuals get me.” She held on, pacing the parapet every day until he returned. A number of people have also said that they have heard the sounds of marching soldiers and the screams and moans of dying men drifting across to the castle from the site of the Battle of Hastings. Other sightings have been of a Roman centurion marching on the castle battlements, and the ghost of a drummer boy who, it is said, is still beating out the alarm of a Saxon attack.
Just a few miles from Pevensey, William the Conqueror built Hastings castle. Noises can be heard from the old dungeon, such as groans and chains rattling from prisoners who have long sinced expired. Standing amongst the ruins of the chapel you can hear a ghostly choir singing. Hastings Castles most famous spectre is reputed to be that of Sir Thomas Becket who was once dean there. When the weather conditions are right, the castle has been seen from the sea as a mirrage, still in its full glory with its flags and pennants flying in the wind.
Near Hastings the stately Herstmonceux castle was built in 1441 by Sir Roger Fiennes is haunted by several ghosts. There are reported sightings of a drummer boy who was killed at the Battle of Agincourt. While the French nobility was slaughtered by English and Welsh archers on the bloody field, the loyal drummer boy was one of the few English casualties. Killed on St. Crispins day 1415, the spirit returned to his former masters home where the ghostly beating of his drum may still be heard. Accounts of a murdered Lord Dacre has been seen galloping across nearby fields, and a selection of ghostly grey and white ladies have been spotted in the area roaming the hallways.
The last destination is a sombre place where the atmosphere hangs heavy, the events of that day on the 14th of October, 1066 are engrained in the fabric of 1066 Country and a defining moment in English history.
Founded by William the Conqueror on the site of King Harold’s last stand against the Norman knights. Battle Abbey was built on the orders of the Pope as penance for the blood that was shed during the conquest. The Abbey straddles Senlac ridge, gazing down the steeply sloping valley that is innocent now of the furious battle cries and ringing blows of sword on the Saxon shield wall, the soft hiss of Norman arrows and the thunder of hooves across the Senlac’s turf
The spirits of those that died there still linger, if you visit during the autumn and winter months the ghostly sounds of the battle echo around the surrounding area and after heavy rain, blood is said to be seen seeping from the ground. On bleak October day’s a phantom knight on horseback has been seen galloping across the battlefield.
In the Abbey itself there have been sightings of Norman knights, monks and a lady wearing a red dress, could this be the ghost of Edith Swan-neck searched the field for the body of her slain lord?
Want to know more about this haunted location, then join Professor Midnight for a spine-tingling ghost walk around the haunted grounds where one of the bloodiest events in England’s history took place. Hear about the site’s sinister past and chilling tales of mysterious monks and spooky soldiers. Then peek into the shadows if you dare!
Are you brave enough to venture into the haunted Castles & Abbeys of 1066 Country?
In screaming woods and empty rooms
or gloomy vaults and sunken tombs;
where monks and nuns in dust decay,
and shadows dance at close of day.
Where the bat dips on the wing
and spectral choirs on breezes sing;
where swords of ancient battles clash
and shimmering shades for freedom dash
Where silver webs of spiders weave
and blighted lovers take their leave;
where curses lay the spirits low
and mortal footsteps fear to go.
Where death holds life in grim embrace
its line’s etched on the sinners face;
where e’er the march of time is flaunted
“this place is haunted”.
Sarah King says
Wow that’s a lot of ghosts. Perfect spooky holiday destination with Halloween coming. I really like this bit about Hastings Castle: ‘When the weather conditions are right, the castle has been seen from the sea as a mirrage, still in its full glory with its flags and pennants flying in the wind.’ Now that would be a sight to behold.
Great article thank you!
Hi Sarah, thank you for commenting, if you are going to visit, don’t forget your camera as you never know what you may see!