Monday, 28 November 2011

Haunted Herstmonceux

The facade of Herstmonceux Castle
(By Brian Raine - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license)

Herstmonceux Castle, in East Sussex, has had a chequered existence and like many of England’s it has it ghosts.

Sir Roger Fiennes, Treasurer of the Household of Henry VI, started building the castle in 1441. It was one of the first major brick buildings and today is the oldest brick building of any note still standing in England.

By 1700 the last Lord Dacre, Earl of Sussex was forced to sell the castle and by the end of the century most of it had been demolished. By the early 1900s it had become a ruin before being reconstructed. In 1946 the estate was sold to the Admiralty and it became the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. In 1993 Herstmonceux Castle was acquired by The Queen’s University of Canada; it is now an International Study Centre.

The most famous Herstmonceux ghost is the nine-foot tall Phantom Drummer who frequents the ramparts at night. Some accounts say he was killed at the Battle of Agincourt and ever since his death tattoo can be heard accompanied by showers of blue light from his drum sticks.

Other versions say the drummer is the ghost of an old Lord Dacre who lived secretly in the castle and beat his drum to ward off lovers of his young wife. He applied phosphorous to his face, clothes and drum and appeared round the castle in a drummer’s uniform. His wife became so annoyed she locked him in and left him to die. Unfortunately for her, the sound of his drum could still be heard, frightening her lovers away.

The spectral White Lady seen swimming across the moat at night and standing nearby wringing her hands in torment is believed to be the wraith of a girl from the village. One of Sir Roger's sons had forced his attentions upon the girl; she escaped his clutches by leaping into the moat. Her attacker caught her and dragged her back into the castle. He then assaulted and murdered her.

Visitors to Herstmonceux Castle are now invited take part in a guided tour and become familiar with the stories of the resident ghosts.
Aerial View of Herstmonceux Castle
 (By Welshie - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license)


Bish Denham said...

Always love a good ghost story, particularly one that has castles involved. Beautiful place. I'm glad it got restored/rebuilt. It's a shame to lose such wonderful pieces of history.

Siddhartha said...

Nice read. you got a new fan!

Little Nell said...

Castles and ghosts - great combination. I used to frighten myself silly with ghost stories when I was a teenager, now I just appreciate them as good tales.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob ..thanks for posting something about East Sussex - really helpful .. as I hold my conversation group up at the Nursing Centre today .. and they'll enjoy these snippets of information.

It's an amazing Castle isn't it - I hate to say .. but I have yet to visit .. next summer!

Cheers thanks so much - loved the info .. Hilary