Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Warwick Castle

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Filed under England, Warwickshire

Here we are going to tell you the story of the haunted Warwick Castle. Along the River Avon in south-west England, near Warwick (pronounced ‘war-ik’ with the second ‘w’ silent) in the town of Warwickshire, there is a bend with a sandstone bluff overlooking a crossing which is a perfect spot for building a fortification to keep watch over the vicinity. In 914, Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great and widow of King Ethelred, who was well-known for her military capabilities, noted the strategic importance of this location. Accordingly she established an Anglo-Saxon burgh here. This was one of the ten that she set-up to defend Mercia against the Danes who sailed across the sea to pillage and plunder.

Warwick Castle

Photo of Warwick Castle - Courtesy of dawarwickphotography

Today, there is a motte in the south-west portion of Warwick Castle which is called “Ethelfleda’s Mound”. Actually, this is part of the later Norman fortifications and not an Anglo-Saxon relic.

In 1068, after William the Conqueror had established Norman authority over England, he ordered the construction of a motte-and-bailey castle at Warwick to keep control over the Midlands while he continued to strengthen his hand over the lands northwards. Then he appointed the son of a powerful Norman family, Henry de Beaumont, as the constable of Warwick Castle. Twenty years later, Henry de Beaumont was made the first Earl of Warwick.

Warwick Castle is in the English county of Warwickshire. It is accessible by rail, road and air. It is just one mile from the Warwick railway station and two miles from junction 15 of the M40 motorway. The Birmingham International Airport is also close at hand. Visitors to the castle may find that it has got some spectral residents which may come too close for comfort.

Warwick Castle Hauntings in the Ghost Tower

Warwick Castle

Skulls on a pole within the courtyard of Warwick Castle - Courtesy of Mark Skevington

September 1, 1628 is an important date in the history of Warwick Castle. On that day, Sir Fulke Greville ended his stay in the mortal realm and took on ethereal form to haunt the castle.

Sir Fulke Greville was a well-known Elizabethan-Jacobean courtier. He was, at one time, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1604, James I granted Warwick Castle to him. When he retired from his Chancellor’s post in 1621, he was given the title Baron Brooke.

Being a gifted poet, Sir Fulke Greville appreciated things of beauty. He spent more than twenty thousand pounds (equivalent to about three million pounds in 2011) renovating the castle. According to William Dugdale, a 17th century antiquary, Warwick Castle was transformed into “a place not only of great strength but extraordinary delight, with most pleasant gardens, walks and thickets, such as this part of England can hardly parallel”.

However Sir Fulke Greville’s eye for beauty did not find delight in members of the fairer sex. Apparently he preferred the company of other members of the same gender. Sir Fulke Greville had a manservant named Ralph Haywood. Presumably this Ralph provided services to his master beyond the normal call of duty.

One day, the two of them were in London. While Ralph was helping Sir Fulke Greville to dress, his master told him that he had made a provision for Ralph in his will. However Ralph’s joy was short-lived when he found out that the amount provided for him was way below what he considered to be his due. In a fit of fury, he took a knife and stabbed Sir Fulke Greville in the back. Then aghast at his dastardly deed, he turned the knife on himself and slit his own throat.

Ralph died on the spot. Sir Fulke Greville clung on to dear life for another 27 agonizing days. His suffering was aggravated by an infection which, it was said, was not helped at all by the mutton fat that the doctor attending him put on his wound. His body was brought back from London to be buried at St. Mary’s Church which is just a short five minutes’ walk from Warwick Castle. This church is also the final resting place of many other Earls of Warwick.

During his lifetime, while waiting for the castle to be renovated, Sir Fulke Greville stayed in the South Tower. There were two rooms, one over the other. Now his restless ghost still roams the tower. So the South Tower is now better known as the Ghost Tower. His footsteps have been heard walking about the room that used to be his study. His portrait hangs on the wall of the castle and, sometimes, his ghost would emerge from his portrait.

The Ghostly Hound of Warwick Castle

Haunting the grounds of the castle is a ghost of the four-legged kind. This manifestation arose from the curse of a woman. Once, there was a woman named Moll Bloxham. One day, the Earl caught her stealing. He ordered her to be publicly punished. As a result, she suffered much brutal indignity and torture. So she placed a curse on the castle. Not long after she disappeared, a dog was sighted in the castle grounds. It was said to be black with red eyes, slavering from its ghostly jaws.

The local people tried to kill it but failed. The ghostly hound continued to terrorize the locality. Finally, it was lured to the highest tower, and from there was made to jump into the river below. The curse, apparently, was finally broken, but, who knows, it might still be lurking in the shadows somewhere.

 
Visitors to Warwick Castle will be pleasantly surprised to find themselves transported into the medieval times. There are festivals being held there regularly with people dressed in full medieval attire to bring to life the atmosphere of the bygone days of the castle.

The castle has the biggest trebuchet in the world. This full-scale replica of the ancient siege machine is a working model. It was built according to the design by Dr Peter Vemming from The Medieval Center in Nykobing, Denmark, based on notes and drawings from the 13th century. The trebuchet is 18 meters high and weighs 22 tons. It can fling projectiles 25 meters into the air over a distance of 300 meters. It takes eight men thirty minutes to arm the trebuchet.

Altogether, Warwick Castle is not to be missed by anyone who wants to get a real live feeling of life in the Middles Ages. Of course, if they feel inclined to explore the many rooms and dungeons of the castle, they may also experience some real live feeling of the other-worldly kind.



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Comments

One Response to “Warwick Castle”
  1. Tiana Emory says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing Warwick castle in 2004. I went up the spiral staircase to the top of the castle. I was on my way up and heard footsteps running up the stairs. I was very tired and stopped so they could go past me. No one ever came up for a while and when they did it was just viitors that were not the type to be running. I got goosebumps!! I loved it!

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