Friday, 20 April 2012

Spofforth Castle and Half a Ghost

A-Z Challenge 2012 - S
Spofforth Castle

The Percy family have been an influential family in northern England since the days of the Norman Conquest, William de Percy, a favourite of William the Conqueror, built the manor house at Spofforth in what is now North Yorkshire. In 1215 Richard de Percy and insurgent Barons are reputed to have drawn up the Magna Carta there.

In 1224 Henry II granted a licence to a later William de Percy to hold a Friday market in the town. It was in 1308 that Edward II gave Henry de Percy a licence to fortify the manor house.

Spofforth Castle sits on a small rocky outcrop overlooking the town. Only the west range, which contained the principle apartments, still stands; earthworks and low walls are all that are left of the north south and east ranges.

Spofforth Castle - 2009
In 1403 Harry Hotspur (immortalised by Shakespeare), Baron of Spofforth and born at the castle, was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury.

During the Wars of the Roses the Percys supported the House of Lancaster. After the Battle of Townton in 1461 the Yorkists burnt the castle and plundered the local countryside. The castle lay in ruins for nearly a hundred years before it was restored by Henry, Lord Percy. By this time it was Alnwick Castle that had become the Percys seat. [A for Alnwick in A-Z Challenge 2011 here]

Spofforth Castle - 2011
The last occupant of the castle was a steward who died in 1604. Spofforth Castle was finally reduced to a ruin during the Civil War.

But what of Spofforth’s ghost?

A bluish-white female appears for a moment on the top of the tower before plunging to the ground. The spectre is made even more gruesome by only the upper half of her body being visible. Who she was and why she killed herself has never been ascertained; she disappears at the moment of impact with the ground.

I toyed with the idea of using Scotney Castle in Kent for the letter S; instead you may check it out  here

Hilary Melton-Butcher’s castle for R  yesterday Raby Castle, County Durham

  • Spofforth Castle 2009; author TJ Blackwell; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license
  • Spofforth Castle 2011; author Immanuel Giel; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license.
  • Video by Justin Chapman 2011


Annalisa Crawford said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday and commenting on du Maurier. I'm following, so I can come back and read about more castles. I love ruins and old buildings.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. I'm glad you didn't so we're different again ..

Poor woman .. a ghost or spectre would be a shock to see .. but only the upper half ..

The Percy's got around and made an impact in the north .. no wonder Shakespeare used them in his writings ..

Then they travelled all over the place - drawing up the Magna Carta in the north only to take it south to Runnymede (near Windsor) for signing and acceptance by King John.

Lovely photos .. really giving a sense of the space of the Castle ..

Cheers Hilary

David Robinson said...

Only half a ghost this time?

Presumably, she was at a lower level than the present one.

Another great and gruesome post, Bob.

Bish Denham said...

At one time it must have been a lovely castle. One can see it in the arches. I noticed too, how worn the stairs are. I think of all the feet that went up and down... And to think that the Magna Carta originated here, I would walk the ruins for that reason alone.

The picture of Scotney Castle, by the way, is just stunning. It looks too idyllic to be real.

loverofwords said...

Takes me back to Winchester where I was on an exchange program. Loved looking out my window and seeing an old roman wall. Thank your for the photographs.

Guilie Castillo said...

I have learned so much from your posts this A-Z challenge, Bob. Thank you! British history (English, Scottish, Irish) has always fascinated me, but sadly I know the "basics", and not nearly enough about Middle-Age stuff. I feel my neurons making new connections every time I stop by here, hehe. And you've spiced up the history lessons with *ghosts*, no less--it's a treat!

Melonie said...

Castles and ghosts have always fascinated me. Put them together, and it's the best of both worlds!

Just swinging through from A to Z. Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

Unknown said...

wow, this is very cool. Why is it that ruins are so much more fascinating than the buildings that have been preserved? It always amazes me.

J.L. Campbell said...

Spooky story. I'm always amazed when I think about the amount of labour that went into constructing these castles.

Paula Martin said...

Bob, we discovered Spofforth quite by chance - but what a little gem it is! Some of it actually reminded me of Middleham.

Unknown said...

Hi,I've investigated spofforth castle several times and the last time I visited, I actually witnessed the blue apparition falling alongside the wall.also the same day I got a female voice on recorder saying 'behind you'.