Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Corby Castle

The haunted Corby Castle is located in northern Cumbria, England. It is on the east bank of the River Eden, on the southern perimeter of the village of Great Corby, about six miles east of Carlisle.

Corby Castle

Photo of Corby Castle - Courtesy of John F Richardson

The Corby Castle started as just a simple red sandstone tower house. It was built by the Salkeld family in the 13th century. In 1611, it was sold to Lord William Howard, the third son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Lord William extended the castle by adding a wing in the form of an L-shaped, 2-storied house. Between April 1812 and September 1817, Peter Nicholson, on the instructions of Henry Howard, built around the existing building to give it the present facade.

Corby Castle Contest of Wills

In 1899, Ursula, the daughter and sole heir of Phillip Canning Howard, married Sir Henry Lawson, the third baronet. Through this matrimonial tie, the Howard and Lawson families were united. This eventually led to an extraordinary court case which was contested around the conjugation of the Howard and Lawson family names.

In 1994, Sir John Howard-Lawson sold Corby Castle to Dr Edward Haughey, a Northern Irish businessman who later became Baron Ballyedmond. The sale involved the sum of about two million pounds. Philip Howard, Sir John’s son, took the matter to court, insisting that his father had not validly inherited the castle and therefor had no right to benefit from its sale.

Phillip Canning Howard, in his will, had dictated that in order to inherit Corby castle, his heirs must change their surname to Howard and take up the family coat of arms with a formal royal license. The said terms of inheritance must be complied with within a 12-month deadline.

Phillip Howard, the plaintiff, contended in court that his father had not complied with the terms of the will and therefor did not inherit the Corby castle at all. His intention to recoup about one and a half million pounds from the proceeds of the sale was most probably the motivating factor behind his sudden interest in the finer details of this inheritance.

There is no information on the matter but it is just possible that Phillip Howard had seen a family ghost called the “Radiant Boy”. It is said that whoever saw this apparition would rise to great heights of wealth and fame. The best documented case of a sighting of the Radiant Boy was recorded in the family journals.

Corby Castle Radiant Boy

The date of the journal entry was September 8, 1803. Many guests had been invited to the Corby castle. Among them was Reverend Henry of Redburgh who was the rector of Greystoke. He came with his wife. Just one day after his arrival, he departed early in the morning. His sudden departure caused much consternation among the host and the other guests. He gave no reason for his haste. It was many years later that the reason was told to the host, by the reverend himself.

According to the reverend, he and his wife went to bed and fell asleep. At between one and two in the morning, he awoke. The fire was totally burned out. There were no other lights placed in the bedroom. However, he saw a glimmer in the center of the room. The point of light became a bright flame, as if something had caught fire.

Then, he saw the apparition of a beautiful boy. It was dressed in white with hair that looked like bright gold. The ghost stood by his bedside for a few minutes. Its eyes looked straight at his, with a mild and benevolent expression. Then it glided gently toward the side of the chimney and disappeared.

The Radiant Boy had been sighted by other members of the Howard family as well. It was said that whoever saw this apparition would rise to great heights of wealth and fame with one caveat. The sighter, so to say, would come to a tragic end. It was reported that the reverend did not suffer any ill effects from his experience with the Radiant Boy but it was, perhaps, because he was not a Howard.

The most well-known experience with a Radiant Boy ghost involved Viscount Castlereagh who was the British Foreign Secretary during the Napoleonic Wars. In his younger days, the viscount, who was then only Captain Robert Stewart, enjoyed hunting. Once while he was out hunting in a remote part of Ireland, he became lost. Eventually, he came to a country house and spent the night there. He slept in a room that was never used. A big fire was set going in the fireplace.

Late that night, the captain was awakened by a bright light in the room. He saw that the fire had burned out. Then he saw an apparition floating in the air surrounded by a brilliant glow. The ghost looked at him closely for a while, then vanished.

The next day, the captain found out from his host that the ghost was an ancestor who was murdered by his insane mother. The host also said that whoever saw the Radiant Boy would rise to great heights of power and wealth before coming to a sudden and violent end. Naturally, the captain laughed.

In time, Captain Robert Stewart became the second Marquis of Londonderry, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary and leader of the House of Commons. In 1822, he ended his own life with a penknife drawn across the throat.

Visitors to Corby Castle should step warily if ghost-hunting is their game. Meeting the Radiant Boy of the castle may not be exactly something to look forward to.

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