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The grounds on which Muncaster Castle stands has history dating back to Roman times, with foundations dating back to at least 79AD. The Pennington family have called the castle home since 1208, however records would suggest the family have been here since 1026.
History of Muncaster Castle
Alan de Penitone was granted ownership of the lands in 1208, but it wasn’t until 1258 that the castle was built, with Gamel de Mulcastre behind the build. As with most historic castles, construction would continue throughout the centuries, with additions and renovations carried out every century since.
In 1464 Sir John Pennington gave Henry VI shelter after he was found wandering after the defeat at the Battle of Hexham at the hands of John Neville and his men. Three centuries later, John, Lord Muncaster would commemorate this moment by erecting a tower (now known as Chapels), in the location that the shepherds found the fugitive King. On his departure, King Henry left his drinking bowl as a sign of gratitude for Sir John’s hospitality. King Henry told Sir John, that as long as the bowl remained quite whole and unbroken, then the Penington family would continue to live and thrive in the castle. The bowl is still intact today and is now know as the ‘Luck of Muncaster’.
During the 17th and 18th centuries the family continued to marry successfully. This lead to the fifth Baronet becoming the first Baron of Muncaster in 1783. He is responsible for the planting of the large hardwood trees you see today, as well as the present library. General Lowther Penington was to succeed him as his brother, who was well known to be a hot head in his youth. Whilst serving in America he was caught up in a duel with a man who he then killed. The quarrel was over the humming of a tune no less!
In 1862 shortly before his death, his grandson Gamel Augustus would instruct the famous architect Anthony Salvin to update the house. Salvin would build over the courtyard that was built by the first Lord Muncaster, converting it to the Drawing Room as you see today.
In 1917 the last fifth and last Lord Muncaster (Gamel’s brother) died without an heir, so the estate passed on to his mother’s side of the family, the Ramsdens, who has played a significant part in the history of Yorkshire.
Ghosts of Muncaster Castle
As one would come to expect from a site that has over 1000 years of history, there are a number of reports of paranormal goings on at Muncaster Castle.
If you were to ask someone from Ravenglass about the ghosts at Muncaster, they’d likely go on to tell you about Tom Skelton, aka Tom Fool. Tom was a jester and he was held in high regard around Muncaster Castle during the late 16th and early 17th century, up until his death sometime in 1600. He was a spiteful character though, who would direct people towards the quicksand when they were looking for directions, if he didn’t like the look of them.
He was also believed to be behind the beheading of a local carpenter, who’s only crime was to fall in love with Sir Ferdinand Penningtons daughter, Helwise. The murder was thought to be under Sir Penningtons orders, and Tom, who was keen to increase his status was keen to oblige.
The current owners of the castle believe Tom is still residing in the castle, and they attribute most of the strange happenings to him, especially the more sinister activities. He’s often felt or heard, but he’s never seen.
The White Lady aka the Muncaster Boggle is another prominent ghost. Thought to be the spirit of Mary Bragg who was a housekeeper in Ravenglass during the early 1800’s. She fell in love with a footman at Muncaster Castle, but unfortunately for her so was one of the housemaids. She would meet regularly with the footman, but on one particular night, she was approached by two men who told her that her lover was ill stricken and was requesting her at his bedside. She never did make it though as the two men reportedly took her to the side of the road and murdered her. Her body was found weeks later floating down the Esk River. Her body in such a bad state from the eels in the river, finding a cause of death was impossible. She is now often seen wondering the castle gardens and local roads, perhaps searching for her lover?
The most haunted area in the castle is the Tapestry Room. There have been many reports over the years, the most frequent being the sound of a baby crying and a soft singing, believed to be a mother/nanny consoling an upset child/baby, as the room was once the nursery. Other reports include a rattling of the door handle in the middle of the night, the door opening, footsteps, dragging sounds, dark masses appearing, the feeling of someone sitting down on the bed, unexplained drops in temperature, and an overwhelming feeling of someone else being in the room.
Muncaster Castle are offering up to 6 people a unique opportunity to stay in the Tapestry Room overnight. You will be entertained first of all with a historic tour of the castle learning about all the tales and legends surrounding the castle, as well as an introduction to its ghostly residents.
Then the following morning you will be treated to a full English Breakfast in Creeping Kate’s Kitchen.
- Saturday/Bank Holiday Sunday night Ghost Sit – £560 per group
- Friday/Sunday night – £499
- Monday – Thursday- £460
To enquire about this unique opportunity please contact us here using Muncaster Castle Ghost Sit as the subject, and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Be sure to include the date range you’d prefer.