Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Old Wardour Castle and the Ghost of Lady Blanche

Old Wardour Castle is located near Shaftesbury, Wiltshire in South West England. The Castle was built by John, 5th Lord Lovell on land previously owned by the St Martin family.

Old Wardour Castle
Photo by Mike Searle (image from Geograph Project Collection) 
(Creative commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License)

The castle was bought by Sir Thomas Arundell in 1544. He, a staunch Roman Catholic, was executed for treason in 1552. On his death the castle was confiscated, but later bought back by his son Sir Matthew Arundell.

In May 1643 Thomas, 2nd Baron Arundell was away on King’s business when Parliamentary forces besieged the castle. His wife 61 year-old Lady Blanche Arundell and 25 retainers defended the Old Wardour Castle for 5 days, only surrendering when two mines exploded under the walls.

After Lord Arundell died his successor returned in 1644 and besieged the castle for four months before retaking it

However instead of honouring the terms of surrender the Roundheads had first imprisoned and then executed Lady Blanche.

The damage sustained by the castle was so great that the castle was never repaired. Abandoned in the 1700s its ruins have since been incorporated in the grounds of nearby New Wardour House.

Old Wardour Castle ruins
 Adapted from a photo by Trish Steel (image from Geograph Project Collection) 
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Lady Blanche has not given up; her ghost did not abandon the castle. At twilight she appears on the walls, haunts the grounds and walks down to the lake.

The family died out in the 20th century and it is unlikely that one of the castle’s supernatural events will be repeated. White owls, seen as harbingers of death, would flutter round the castle as a warning of an approaching tragedy.

Old Wardour Castle was used for some scenes in the modern film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. What would Lady Blanche, or her ghost, have made of Kevin Costner?


Carole Anne Carr said...

Didn't Harrison Ainsworth write a story about Old Wardour Castle?

Bob Scotney said...

Carole, I'm searching Harrison Ainsworth's books but have not located anything yet which mentions Old Wardour Castle. It's difficult just going by titles. Can you narrow it down for me?

Little Nell said...

You won’t be surprised to hear that we used to visit there from Salisbury. We were family members of English Heritage and they had some great re-enactment days there.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

I read this from the Facebook link on my Blackberry while we were driving today and now that I have the computer up, wanted to see it again....I do so enjoy these grand ghost stories. I think we have to bring them back!

Bob Scotney said...

One of my Facebook friends has left this comment there. It's from Henry da' Boxer's Mum:

"This castle is only up the road from us and is an amazing location. Definitely needs to be seen. Some years ago, we made a visit there with my parents and their dog Gully. Gully worshipped my Dad and was very obediant. But inside the castle, we came across a small ante-room (not sure how else to describe it) and we all one by one entered this small room to have a nosy. It was so small, with a very low entrance, only 2 people at a time could go in & it would necessitate ducking low to enter. I went in first then, Dad followed, pulling Gully (who was on a lead) on behind him.

However Gully slammed the brakes on....he dug his claws into the ground, his eyes went wild and tried to run away."

Dad couldn't understand what was up with Gully and tried to force him in but Gully was having none of it, family were even pushing Gully's bum from the outside of the ante-room. Gully became really distressed so Dad stopped trying to force him and left the ante-room. His behaviour was totally out of character; he NEVER disobeyed my Dad but he just wasn't willing to go in that room. Something we couldn't see frightened him. It was at that point that I looked around the ante-room and decided that I didn't care to stay in there either and swiftly exited!"

A Paperback Writer Photos said...

Ah, I love castles! I was daily amused the whole time I lived in Edinburgh by the fact that there was a castle right smack in the middle of the city.

Thanks for sharing these.

Penny said...

I lived in the house the other side of the castle,by the lake I had never heard of Lady Blanche as we were new to the area, but one night had a really vivid dream of a woman wearing a cloak walking along the side of the lake.She seemed regal and mournful.I now believe her to be Lady Blanche.