Saturday, 14 April 2012

Muncaster Castle and Tom the Fool

 A-Z Challenge 2012 - M
Muncaster Castle

Muncaster is another castle that stakes a claim to be one of Britain’s most haunted.

Muncaster Castle (Morris - 1880)
Muncaster Castle overlooks the River Esk near Ravenglass, Cumbria in North West England. The lands were granted to Alan de Penitone in 1208. Roman foundations on the site date back to 79AD. The castle was built on these in 1258 by Gamel de Mulcaster. Extended and enlarged over the centuries records show that the castle had 14 chimneys in 1678 while in 1746 window tax records indicate a total of 103 windows.

After his defeat at the Battle of Townton in 1461 Henry VI was sheltered at the castle by Sir John Pennington. On his departure Henry presented Sir John with his glass drinking bowl as a token of his gratitude, saying that they would prosper for as long as the bowl remained unbroken. To this day the glass, known as “Luck of Muncaster” remains intact.

Of all the ghostly tales about Muncaster the most famous is that of Tom the Fool. Tom Skelton was a jester at the castle who died around 1600. He is said to be responsible for a number of deaths. He loitered under a chestnut tree outside the castle and directed travellers looking for Ravenglass down to the quick sands rather than to the road. He is also supposed to have cut off the head of a local carpenter under the instructions of Sir William Pennington. The carpenter had been the lover of Sir William’s daughter Helwise.

Thomas Skelton’s portrait still hangs in the castle. One tourist standing looking at the portrait said she heard footsteps on stone flooring behind her. When she turned there was no one there. It was later pointed out to her that the stairs and corridor were, in fact, fully carpeted.

It’s believed that the expression “Tom Fool” and “tomfoolery” originated with Thomas Skelton.

The Tapestry Room is supposedly the most haunted room in the building with people experiencing disturbed nights, hearing footsteps outside the room, seeing the door handle turning, and the door opening although there is no one there. A child is heard crying, and sometime a lady sings as though comforting a child.

The “Muncaster Boggle” or White Lady haunts the gardens and roadways. She is the ghost of Mary Bragg, a young girl murdered in area in the early 1800s.

Muncaster Castle - North East Front - 2007
Hilary Melton-Butcher's castle for L was Lullingstone Castle, Kent.

  • Muncaster Castle in England from Morris's Country Seats (1880).
  • North East Front of Muncaster Castle 2007; author Alexander P Kapp; Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. different again. We used to go to Ravenglass occasionally when we visited the Lake District. Fascinating castle .. and one I'd like to visit - not for the ghosts, though I might be ready for them, if they appeared - but for the tapestries .. and general area. I love the Lake District - many childhood memories ..

Cheers Hilary

Martha Jane Orlando said...

Enjoyed learning the history of this "haunted" castle. Thanks so much for sharing!
Blessings to you!

Li said...

I really do love castles, and this one is in such a beautiful setting :-) I do wish we had this sort of thing in the US...or that it was a little cheaper to fly to the UK!

Bish Denham said...

A stunning castle! And so many ghosts. I liked learning about the possible origins of tomfoolery. Makes sense to me.

Robyn Campbell said...

Wonderful post, Bob. The footsteps on stone flooring story was pretty eerie. The floor was fully carpeted. Yikes! I wonder how fast she raced out of there! Ha.

I bet the Tapestry Room is exquisite. Another one for my castle tour. :-)

DL Hammons said...

I believe I read about this before when somebody posted it during "C" day. Very impressive indeed!! :)

Luanne G. Smith said...

What a great history behind the castle. I think a good haunting only adds to the value of a place like that. Wonderful.

Marc Latham said...

Interesting castle, and more great greenygrey imagery Bob. Cheers.

Unknown said...

You make my heart ache to go to Europe. Thank you, I needed that.

Little Nell said...

More tomfoolery! I’ve never heard of Muncaster Castle bit what a mean-spirited (sorry) ghost, to direct people to the quicksands!

Unknown said...

How fascinating!!You start talking about ghosts and castles, I am hooked!! Visiting from the A-Z and loving it! :D Good luck with the rest of the alphabet.


darlin said...

I love castles, you've shared some wonderful photos as well as history and this makes me want to visit these castles one day... who knows, I'll add it to my bucket list and see what happens next. :-)

Have a wonderful week Bob!