Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chillingham Castle

 Is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham in the northern part of Northumberland, England. It was the seat of the Grey family and their descendants the Earls of Tankerville from the 13th century until the 1980s. The castle was originally a monastery in the late 12th century. In 1298, King Edward I stayed at the castle on his way to Scotland to battle a Scottish army led by William Wallace. A glazed window in a frame was specially installed for the king, a rarity in such buildings at the time.
   In 1617, James I, the first king of both England and Scotland, stayed at the castle on a journey between his two kingdoms. As relations between the two countries became peaceful following the union of the crowns, the need for a military stronghold in the area declined. The castle was gradually transformed; the moat was filled, and battlements were converted into residential wings. A banquet hall and a library were built.
   In the 18th and 19th century the grounds underwent landscaping, including work carried out by Sir Jeffry Wyattville. The once extensive park, now under a separate ownership from the castle. During World War II, the castle was used as an army barracks. During this time, much of the decorative wood is said to have been stripped out and burned by the soldiers billeted there. After the war, the castle began to fall into disrepair. Lead had been removed from the roof, resulting in extensive weather damage to large parts of the building. In the 1980s, the castle was purchased by Sir Humphry Wakefield, 2nd Baronet, whose wife Catherine is remotely descended from the Greys of Chillingham. He set about a painstaking restoration of the castle. Sections of the castle are open to the public, and holiday apartments are available for hire.
    Its current owners market the castle as being the most haunted castle in Britain.Some of these ghosts are written about are referred to in a 1925 pamphlet by Leonora, Countess of Tankerville. Others, such as John Sage, are of more recent invention.
    The most famous ghost of the castle is the "blue (or radiant) boy", who according to the owners used to haunt the Pink Room in the castle. Guests supposedly reported seeing blue flashes and a blue "halo" of light above their beds after a loud wail. It is claimed that the hauntings ceased after renovation work revealed a man and a young boy inside a 10-foot-thick wall. Documents dating back to the Spanish Armada were also found within the wall.
                                     John Sage
This cruel and sadistic torturer, who died about 1200, has often been seen wandering around the castle. He used to take great pleasure in his grisly work, even devising new and 'improved' methods of inflicting pain on his victims. During the three years he held the job, he is said to have tortured to death over 7,500 people and killed several hundred others in various ways.
    At the end of the war with the Scots, wanting to rid the castle of the prisoners, he rounded up the Scottish adults and older children being held and burnt them to death in the court-yard. He then took an axe, which can still be seen, and hacked to death the smaller children in the Edward room. The chandelier in that room sometimes swings by itself and people report a foul smell and strange atmosphere.
    John Sage's undoing was when he accidentally strangling his girlfriend as they made love on the 'torture rack' in the castle dungeon. Unfortunately for John Sage, his girlfriend's father was a Border Reiver who said that he would gather a great army and attack the castle if Sage was not put to death. John Sage was publicly hanged from a tree in the castle grounds in front of a very large and enthusiastic crowd. And as he slowly died, people cut off pieces of him as 'souvenirs'. So ended the life of a truly detestable man.
                             Radiant Boy or Blue Boy
The most famous of the Chillingham Castle ghosts was the 'Radiant Boy' or 'Blue Boy'. The sound of a young child in absolute terror or fear would be heard at the stroke of midnight in the Pink Bedroom coming from a point where a passage had been cut through the 10 foot thick walls. The sound would suddenly cease and the wraith of a young boy, dressed in blue and surrounded by a bright aura would approach the old four-poster bed.
    In the 1920's, building work was being carried out and the bones of a child were discovered along with scraps of blue bones were discovered. These were interred in the local graveyard and the Radiant Boy ceased making his appearances.
     However, people who sleep in the bed in the Pink Room, report that one wall of the room still lights up with bright flashes of blue light.
                                  Two lady ghosts
A Chillingham Castle ghost who can be seen today haunts the 'Inner pantry'. She is very frail and dressed in white, hence the name by which she is known. A watchman who slept in the room to guard the silver that used to be store there, saw the woman whom he assumed to be a guest. She asked him for water and as he turned to get her some, she disappeared. It has been suggested that the reason the spectre was so thirsty was that she had been poisoned.
Lady Mary Berkeley is another Chillingham Castle ghost. She is not seen but the rustle of her dress is heard by visitors or they feel a sudden cold chill as she endlessly searches for her husband. He scandalised the area when, in the 1600's, he seduced and ran off with his wife's younger sister. Poor Lady Mary was left all alone in the castle with just her small baby girl for company.

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