The castle near the village of Berry Pomeroy near Totnes in Devon is reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.
[Photo author: J Morley Under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license]
The lands around the castle were presented to Ralph de Pomeroy by William the Conqueror in reward for his support in the Norman Invasion and in the Battle of Hastings. The castle was built in the early 12th century by Henry de Pomeroy and remained in the family until the lands were forfeited in the 1540s.
The Lord Protector, Sir Edward Seymour brother of Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, commissioned the building of a mansion house inside the Norman castle. [Sir Edward was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1549, sentenced to death and executed in 1552]
The castle was occupied by the Seymours until the late 1680s; it was subsequently abandoned as an abode having been damaged during the Civil War and by fire in the 18th century. The Seymours have been guardians of the castle since that time although in the 1990s English Heritage took over its maintenance and restoration work.
An apparition known as the White Lady is believed to be that of Lady Margaret Pomeroy who was imprisoned by her jealous older sister Lady Eleanor, left in charge when Lord Pomeroy went on a crusade. Incarcerated in the dungeons for nearly two decades Margaret suffered a slow and painful death by starvation. The White Lady haunts the dungeons and rises from the St Margaret’s Tower to the castle ramparts. Those who see this figure report feelings of depression, fear and malevolence.
The ghost of a Blue Lady, reported as long ago as the 18th century, is dressed in a blue cape and hood. It is claimed she tries to lure men to their death by seeking help in unsafe areas of the castle. The daughter of a Norman lord she was raped by her father who subsequently strangled the resulting child. [Other accounts say she strangled the child herself.]
Regarded as a death portent to the Seymours she is seen wringing her hands in torment and at times the cries of the child can be heard in the castle.
A prominent doctor, Sir William Farquhar, saw the Blue Lady when attending the wife of one of the stewards of the castle. The steward explained that apparition was an omen of death; the steward’s wife died soon afterwards in spite of the doctor’s assurance that she as doing well.
A further story concerns the area below the castle ramparts known as the Pomeroy’s leap, an area where screams and dull thuds are sometimes heard. Two Pomeroy brothers besieged in the castle mounted their horses in full armour and rode off the top of the ramparts rather than face defeat.
Modern investigations at Berry Pomeroy Castle have reported apparitions, photographic failure and paranormal sounds. Anyone bold enough to take a small stone as a memento of their visit has returned them due the feeling of foreboding and evil that followed them afterwards.