With Halloween on our doorstep, Royal Central has a look into the supposedly most-haunted house in the country: the aptly named Chillingham Castle.
Once the site of a monastary,the Castle sits nestled in the countryside, near the English-Scottish border. A notorious prison in the 12th century, Chillingham boasts gruesome executions, torture chambers and grizzly tales to boot. The home of Sir Humphrey Wakefield, it once belonged to the Grey family and then, their descendants, the Earls of Tankerville.
Chillingham has featured on Most Haunted, and been voted the Best Castle in Europe by The Independent with ‘the best ghost tour in England’. It even has its own paranormal investigatory team: ‘Chillingham Castle Uncovered’.
Chillingham Castle is supposedly the country’s most haunted house.
The castle’s own website names a number of ghosts: the Blue Boy (so-called because all you see of him is a blue flash), Lady Mary Berkeley, who once lived at the castle, and a tortured child.
Express journalist Claudia Joseph investigated further to see if the castle lived up to its name. She joined one of the castle’s ghost tours, led by Graham Burney, 48, a fervent believer; he takes ghost tours, as well as standard tours during the day.
The tour begins at the two hanging trees of the former prison where Graham claims to have been “physically lifted up and thrown” onto his back. He then explains the methods of hanging used by the castle executioners: “upwards by the wrists to dislocate the arms, sideways with a rope around the waist which bores into the kidneys, or upside down.” Gruesome stuff.
The torture chamber followed, exhibiting cages, wheels, racks and other torture implements, as well as a chopping block. No less than eight well-documented executions of family members, including beheadings, took place at Chillington.
A torture chair in the castle Torture Chamber – with blood stains to boot!
In the chapel, Graham asks the ghost of a young girl named Eleanor to move a green light. “Come on Eleanor, sweetheart. You know me, Graham. I want to see if you can move that light for me please.” Eventually, the group claim to have seen the light move around 6 inches.
Sir Humphrey, the castle’s current owner, is more sceptical of the hauntings, but did have the estate exorcised before moving in. The priest told him the ghosts were ‘too powerful’ to move but that they were ‘all rooting for you [Sir Humphrey]’.
‘I think I’m not meant to see one [a ghost]’.
Wakefield has a connection to the Royals as well, with Sir Humphrey’s father a treasurer and comptroller of the Royal Household, rather prestigious and powerful positions working for The Queen. His father also attended Gordonstoun, like Prince Philip and all of his sons. Philip and Charles have both visited but, “Sadly the Queen hasn’t come here – I wish Philip would make her!”
The cameras of Most Haunted caught a big wheel, with spikes on it and a ‘corpse’ atop, rolling towards the camera at 2 a.m. in the torture chamber. Wakefield knows why it happened, “because I had propped it up with tins below,” but admitted he was confused as to why it happened just as the cameras began to film.
“Our wonderful Chillingham Bull Mastiff suddenly bent down, looked up at the rafters and his hackles went up. The cameras filmed him growling at nothing as it were. I noticed there was a pigeon sitting up there. Why then? It went out on telly around the world and people were thrilled with it,” Sir Humphrey tells Claudia Joseph.
So whilst no spooky goings-on were seen, we’re still not sure we’d spend the night at Chillingham on a ghost tour!