The haunted Donnington Castle is not to be confused with Castle Donington. The former is in Berkshire while the latter is in Leicestershire. Donnington Castle is in the small village of Donnington, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the River Lambourne, just one mile north of the town of Newbury in the English county of Berkshire.
In 1386, King Richard II gave Richard Abberbury the Elder a license to build Donnington Castle. The sturdiest part of the building is the gatehouse which still stands to this day. During the Civil War, the Royalist troops garrisoned at Donnington Castle stubbornly defended their position against the besieging Parliamentarian forces for eighteen months. At last, with the King’s permission, the Royalist forces withdrew to Wallingford. In 1646, Parliament voted to demolish the castle leaving only the gatehouse. In 1946, the haunted Donnington Castle came under the care of English Heritage and is a scheduled ancient monument.
Donnington Castle Phantom Battle
The ghosts of those who fell in battle during that long siege seemed not to be aware that the war was over a long time ago. Now and then in Love Lane, people have sighted a ghostly re-enactment of a skirmish between the Royalist and Parliamentarian forces, complete with sounds of gunfire, screams and shouting. A Royalist cavalry patrol from the castle was seen having a go at a superior Parliamentarian force from the town of Donnington.
Donnington Castle Guard GhostThe guards who had defended the gatehouse of the castle also seemed to be still on duty. The ghost of a guard that looked so real and solid that it had often been mistaken for a guide in period dress had often been sighted on both floors of the gatehouse. When someone approached closer, it simply vanished like a bubble bursting.
The Specter of the Green Lady
At one point in its history, the ownership of the castle was confusing. When Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne, she made Lady Hoby of Bisham Abbey the steward of the castle. At the same time, she granted the manor to the Earl of Nottingham. Lady Hoby insisted upon her rights over the castle. She came all the way from Wales and ordered the Mayor of Newbury to provide her with armed clothiers to instigate a pitched battle at the castle gates.
To this day, her ghost, named the Green Lady, have been sighted at the castle gates. The ghost would ask visitors why the gates were closed. Then she would vanish into thin air. Presumably quite a few of the visitors did a vanishing act of their own, too.
The Royalist Soldier Apparition
Some visitors, though, were more hardy. Once, a group of young campers came upon a horrifying spectacle. They saw an elderly Royalist soldier holding a young woman in a headlock. He was pulling her hair. Instead of running away, one of the campers shouted at the Royalist cavalier,
“Leave her alone!”
The phantom soldier was unperturbed. He gave voice to a loud growl and continued pulling his victim’s hair. The whole group of young campers advanced upon the apparition. Probably taken aback by this unconventional reaction to spectral sightings, the phantom soldier stood back and let out another great growl. Then both apparitions completely disappeared.
Donnington Castle Ghost Hound
Phantom soldiers are not the only apparitions sighted at Donnington Castle. In 1990, several visitors have sighted a ghost hound. They said they saw a white dog running down the hill from the castle. It ran towards the woods. Just before reaching the tree line, the ghost hound leaped into the air and vanished.
Visitors to Donnington Castle with an interest in paranormal phenomena will certainly find plenty of activities to give them a heart-thumping as well as hair-raising experience.