Nestled in a small pocket of England lies an abandoned castle where several of the previous occupants refuse to give up residence. Berry Pomeroy Castle is hailed as ‘the most haunted castle in England’, a romantic ruin that takes you back to the 15th Century. A sight of hope, eventual disappointment and intrigue.
A wee bit o’ history
Berry Pomeroy Castle was built in the late 15th century. Unfortunately, due to financial woes, the sale of the castle went to the Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour in 1547. He converted the site into a lavish Elizabethan mansion. Plans to upgrade the castle in the 17th century never eventuated and the mansion fell into ruin. Berry Pomeroy Castle is unusual among English castles in that its history has only recently been established.
Fun Fact: Edward Seymour was the brother of King Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour.
The Castle Residents
According to legends, many ghosts are said to haunt the castle.
The White Lady
This is probably the most famous resident of Berry Pomeroy Castle. The White Lady is said to be the spirit of Margaret Pomeroy. She resides in the dungeons and S. Margarets Tower. After having been locked in the dungeon by her own sister, Eleanor, she starved to death. Eleanor was jealous of her beauty. Nothin’ like a little bit of sibling rivalry. People feel her presence mostly on the stairs that lead down to her dungeon, pacing up and down the stairs.
The Blue Lady
The Blue Lady resides in her tower, beckoning help from passers-by. Luring them to their death. The Blue Lady is thought to have been the daughter of a Norman Lord. She wanders the dungeons, mourning the loss of her baby which she murdered as it was sired by her own father. The Blue Lady is mainly witnessed by men. On one night of the year a blue light is seen glowing near St. Margaret’s Tower. The wailing of a baby has been heard around the tower.
Isabella hangs out in the kitchens, she is thought to be about 9 years old and the child of a Pomeroy Nobel and a servant. She died alongside her mother when she tried to save her mother from being attacked by visiting noblemen. She follows visitors home in a desperate attempt to help her mother.
During a siege, two Pomeroy brothers are said to have taken their own lives rather than fall into enemy hands. They rode to their deaths on their horses, leaping from the top of the castle ramparts. People claim to have heard screams, thuds and the pitiful whinnying of dying horses.
The Smiling Cavalier
The smiling cavalier can be seen walking the old path to the castle, he smiles at visitors and informs them he is off to the pub. A smart looking man dressed in cavalier style clothing, long back curls and a bushy moustache.
The guardsman carries his lantern and is dressed as a medieval guardsman. His footsteps can be heard as he keeps his lonely watch.
The Cane Bearer
The Cane Bearer is a young woman dressed in rags and can be seen holding a bunch of canes used to make baskets. If she decides she doesn’t like someone, she will poke them with her cane. This resident is known to follow unsuspecting members of the public home.
Walking the ruins
Berry Pomeroy Castle is now a mere shell. Once one of the grandest mansions in it’s time, it was abandoned and left to ruin. While nature has managed to claim back much of the land, the castle still holds ground. Desperately clinging on to some semblance of dignity.
I was really nervous visiting Berry Pomeroy Castle. Meeting one of the legendary spirits didn’t really take my fancy. Though a small part of me kind of did want to see one. I’ve never seen one before. I like firsts.
You can choose to tour the castle without the audio guide or with. I chose with. Obvs. Learning and history are two things I am passionate about so I walked around the castle with the device glued to my ear.
Apparently, there used to be a moat guarding the mansion (a moat!). A drawbridge used to be in use over the arched entranceway. After we walked through these arches and looked around in awe at the spread before us we headed towards the gatehouse towers. The rooms echoed with our footsteps as we made our way to the model of the castle in its heyday sitting on a lonely wooden table. Berry Pomeroy Castle would have been a grand mansion. Faded outlines of a once grand painting still cling to the wall.
St Margaret’s Tower
After making our way around the gatehouse we exited via the curtain walls. We passed by the exterior of the house and made our way to St Margarets Tower. Aflie, my friends’ son, refused to go down the steps into the dungeon. Maybe he felt the White Ladies presence? He was only three at the time so couldn’t communicate why he did want to go down those steps. But we couldn’t budge him.
It was dark, damp and more than a little creepy descending the stairs into the dungeon and I wanted to make my way out of there as quickly as possible. You can still see the gunports in the wall, one of which was very advanced for its time. The only other one found is in Germany.
The Elizabethan House
Tall walls stretch up to the sky. vines creeping slowly up them, heading towards the top and gaping holes puncture the walls. The Elizabethan house rises further up than the walls. Once, it stood at four storeys with large windows offering magnificent views over the rolling countryside.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall of Berry Pomeroy Castle is now fashionably open-topped. But, you can almost picture noblemen and women dressed up their finery, hear the band playing, chatter and laughter and imagine the grand, imposing Hall decorated with candle chandeliers, tall windows and painted panels as you walk through the remains. In its day, it would have been the most magnificent room in the mansion.
Large arched fireplaces remain in the kitchen with chambers sitting above them where hams, tongues and bacon would hang to be smoked. Great flues run up the inside of the wall, keeping the upper floors warm. These kitchens would have been well-stocked and well-used. Different kinds of ovens still sit, unusable but holding ground. A great oven flanked by pastry or baking ovens.
The Inner Courtyard
The Great Staircase
Once a polished curved timber staircase built to impress. Now gaping holes in a crumbling wall and a decorated door frame is all that is left.
A Pictorial Walk Through Berry Pomeroy Castle
Berry Pomeroy Castle is an intriguing piece of English history. From the romantic remains to the ghostly legends to the rolling picturesque landscape surrounding the castle. There is something sad about the castle. Maybe it is because it never reached its peak? You can see the toothing where the extension for the castle was planned but never executed. It is a castle of hope and eventual disappointment.
We didn’t encounter any of the resistents whilst wandering the ground of Berry Pomeroy Castle. Though I did see an odd smudge on one of the photos when looking back over them later on.
It was fascinating seeing how well-preserved some of the detail and remains were. This is thought to be because of the relative isolation and surrounding trees protecting the once majestic building. Picturing what the castle used to look like while listening to audio guide takes you back in time to the days of Elizabethan Parties, Chambermaids, Lords and Noblemen.
I would definitely recommend a walk through Berry Pomeroy Castle.
Where is the spookiest place you have ever visited?
To read more about Berry Pomeroy Castle, visit the English Heritage Website.