This castle has been around since 1298, at was first a monastery, then in 1344 it became a fortified castle, That’s 719 years Ya’ll! You know there’s some madness going on there right!? So this castle was intended to be the first line of defense, in keeping the Scots from invading England. This was back in the day of William Wallace when the castle was ruled over by King Edward the 1st, so that should tell you right there that it has one hell of a horrifying history! So, of course, I’m gonna tell you all about it!
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we! So as with most ancient castles there is a dungeon, oh yeah! The Chillingham dungeon is a very small room carved from the stone base. Today you can still see etchings in the walls where prisoners kept count of the days they had remaining before the executioner would come for them. Most of them in the earlier years of the castle, fully expected to have both arms and legs cut off or at the least broken, and then be thrown down a 20 foot hole where they would be left to starve or bleed to death, that’s if they didn’t die from the injuries sustained during the fall. Those that did survive the fall, were said to sometimes eat dead flesh from other bodies at the bottom of the pit, some would even eat chunks of their own flesh in a desperate attempt to prolong their miserable lives. Today a steel grate covers the opening of the hole, it’s said that if you look down into the darkness that the face of a young woman will appear to you, this was the last person killed here, but I can’t find any explanation as to who she was or why she was punished. All I found was that she lived for 3 days after before she finally died from her injuries.
So next up is the torture chamber, oh yeah! it’s on! There are some sick and deranged pieces of equipment in this room, still in working condition today! This sucker is packed down and built for nothing other than pain and torment. The floor was carved from the stone base and has a slight slope so that the blood would drain away to one side. There’s a huge boiling pot, implements for gouging out someones eyeballs, and there are these barrels. They’re lined with metal spikes on the inside. They’d stuff a prisoner inside the barrel and roll them around until their flesh was ripped from their bodies, and they’d leave them locked inside the barrel to die in agony from their wounds. Then there are these freaky looking little cages, guess what these twisted bastards would use them for. This is crazy! They would attach the cages to a prisoners body and put a starving rat inside. The only way for the rat to escape was to eat his way through the prisoner.
What kind of twisted half breed could even think of this kind of madness, much less see it through. I’ll tell you, the dudes name was John Sage. Sage was one of the King’s most brutal warriors in the battlefield. He’d worked his way up to Lieutenant. But one day his leg was injured in battle, badly enough to end his days of fighting the King’s wars. Sage begged the King to keep him on in some position. The King, familiar with his vicious skills, and his hatred toward the Scots, decided to name him Castle torturer. And Sage loved it, in fact he reveled in it, he was so into his new job that he began creating torture devises of his own.
Some of the things that this Dude did to these prisoners were downright ghastly! Sage tortured fifty or more prisoners per week for the entire time he held his position. Every victim was used as a guinea pig to test and improving his latest means of torment. Sage thoroughly lavished in his torturing but as all good things do, it would soon come to an end. The war with the Scots would soon be over and his supply of prisoners would begin to dwindle. Furious with the threat of peace, Sage went into some of the surrounding towns and began murdering anyone he suspected to have been of Scottish descent. When he returned to the castle there was talk of freeing the prisoners.
Yeah, well that went over like a fart in Sunday school, yeah, he wasn’t up for that. So Sage rounded up all of the men, women and older children from his hordes of prisoners and leads them to the courtyard where there’s a huge bonfire burning, Well folks, they weren’t fixing to make Smore’s, I’ll tell you that right now! Sage has all of them tied up and thrown into the fire. Hundreds of prisoners were burned to death and guess what was just within eyesight of the massive fire. A window, in fact it was the window to the Edward room where all of the prisoners younger children were being held. No doubt the ones tall enough to see out of it were watching on as their parents died agonizing deaths. Those that couldn’t see surely heard their screams and smelled their burning flesh.
Just hang on kids, uncle John will be there shortly to console you, right!? Not so much, Sage, a battle hardened soldier, knew that if he released the children they would grow up and one day come to seek their revenge, he’d be an old man by then. So, This evil bastard takes a small axe to the Edward room and begins hacking the kids to pieces. These kids ranged from maybe 8 years old all the way down to infants. His heinous act rendered the Edward room into one of the most paranormally active rooms in the entire castle. ya think! The chandelier is said to swing randomly, the room has a foul smell and or course a strange atmosphere. Glowing orbs and the faces of terrified children are often caught on film, their tormented screams are more frequently heard and recorded by folks that visit the room.
Any way back to Sage. So in the torture chamber there is a torture rack, remember we’ve talked about these. That’s where the victim is tied down and then stretched from limb to limb and sometimes this even included their neck. So, of course this sicko has some sexual fetishes too right! Cause why wouldn’t he?! Yeah, so one day he’s got his girlfriend tied up on the rack and they’re getting their freak on, well he starts cranking the gears on the torture rack and accidentally winds up killing her. Hope it was good cause that was the last he got from her, I guess, you never know, this dude was definitely deranged! But, let me tell you about his girlfriends Father, who just happened to be a member of Border Reivers. Now the Reivers were a bad ass gang of broken men and outlaws that were pretty much as demented as Sage. needless to say Dad wanted Sage dead right then and there.
The Border Reivers were a very powerful organization that had a vast and very skilled fighting force. legend has it that there was a meeting between King Edward and the leaders of the gang, dad included. King Edward was to have Sage killed immediately else the Reivers would join up with the Scots and launch a full scale attack on the castle. So King Edward has Sage hanged in front of an enormous crowd. Sage was so hated and feared that people in the crowd wanted souvenirs, and I don’t mean t shirts! They start cutting chunks of flesh from his body, while he was still alive. It is unknown how long Sage hanged while being mutilated before he finally died. Fitting I would say.
So, Sage, stuck around and is still seen all over the castle and grounds and of course in his favorite spot, the torture chamber. As we know, ghost tend to return to the places that they loved most!
So next up is the Great hall that leads to the Chapel and the Minstrels gallery. Let me clarify here, the Minstrels gallery was not a room full of PMSing women, this is where the musicians performed. Ok, back to The Great Hall. It’s a long room with a lot of artifacts on the walls. The most notable are a tapestry which cold spots are frequently associated with and a skull that sits on the table in front of the tapestry. The skull is known to move all around the Great Hall on it’s own, but never leaves the room. There are windows that line the wall that look out into the courtyard where ghostly children are often spotted staring in through the windows. On one investigation a small boy ghost was photographed in a chair sitting to the left of the skull.
The Minstrels gallery is a balcony that overlooks the tea room. People have been pushed down the stairs here. Other folks have been overcome by violent waves of nausea or stabbing pains in their head while in the gallery. Huh, kind of like PMS right?! Anyway, There is a legend that says when the tea room was being excavated, a massive toad like creature broke through the wall, took human form then disappeared. The legends says that it is this creature that haunts the area.
The Chapel, I’m certain, has heard same crazy, jacked up prayers. Imagine the soldiers that prayed there before going out to kill or torture the Scots. The walls are covered with weapons of war and flags that the kings men would carry into battle. The Chapel was also recently excavated and beneath the floorboards they found a bunch of relics and some human bones. Maybe that would have something to do with the fact that cameras and recorders will not work here. Most of the time, batteries are drained completely before there is a chance to use the equipment, some of the time the equipment just will not work at all.
Next up is the Edward room, or more affectionately known as the killing room. Among the decor is a suit of armor bearing a two handed sword. The walls are covered with other types of war weapons, cow horns and flags. The most notable relic hanging on display in the Edward room are the documents that were found with the Blue Boy when he was discovered inside the wall.
Ok, so we talked about the Blue Boy already, so on to some of the other ghosts seen around the castle. One in particular is Lady Mary Berkeley. She wanders the corridors searching for her wayward husband, Lord Grey, who actually ran off with her sister, I’m betting she’s wanting to kick some ass. Folks say that Lady Berkeley doesn’t have much to say but when she is near, she definitely sends a cold chill up your spine.
Another lady ghost is an ancestor of the Grey Family. She has been seen stepping from out of her own paintings and following folks around the castle. There are documents of her having done so since the Tankerville’s inhabited the castle. She was seen by both the Tankerville children and their nursemaid. Sometimes this unnamed lady is seen walking around on the grounds and throughout the castle and is often mistaken for a tour guide in period clothing.
A descendant of the Tankerville’s, Lady Leonora, lived in the castle in the 1920’s. She left behind a comprehensive journal of her ghostly encounters. It all began with her as a precognition. While she was in Italy, she had a dream where she said she was walking along and avenue toward a castle. As she neared the park, she was joined by a young man that introduced himself as her soon to be husband’s brother. he explained that he must walk with her until his brother was ready. At that time she had never heard of Chillingham. She had met her husband-to-be only months before and had no idea where he was from much less anything about a castle and really had no idea that she’d wind up marrying the dude to begin with. So as time passes she actually finds herself at the same castle from her dream. While scanning family photos she had no difficulty picking the young man out in a photos, it was then that she was told the brother had died during the war, way before sje’d had her dream.
The first ghost that Lady Leonora encountered had nothing to do with any of the ancient specters that had been known for centuries to have been haunting the halls of the castle. So one night, she was standing at her dressing table brushing her hair before bed. She was wearing only her nightgown. Suddenly she felt the presence of someone behind her, she turned to see a young soldier. She and her husband knew the soldier, they were aware that he had been very ill, so she was shocked to see him standing there in her room and with her nearly naked and all too! She spun around and grabbed her dressing robe and held it up against her as she turned to see what the man had to say for himself for intruding in her chamber. But when she turned to face him, he was gone. When she went to tell her husband, she met up with him on the way, he was coming back to tell her that the very same man she had just seen in her chamber, had died.
Then, one Morning, she had just sat down to rest, There was a storm was brewing and the sky was getting dark. As she’s looking out the window she sees a woman appear in what she refers to as the garb of a Dominican. The woman knelt down to pray, and when she stood up, a man came to stand beside her, together they were looking toward the horizon in the direction of their enemies, the Scots. A few feet behind them two more men appeared wearing velvet court dress from the time of Henry the 8th. A few minutes later the chambermaid came into the same room, The Lady thought that the vision would have surely disappeared, but it didn’t! She looked back out of the window to see another woman drape a cape over the first chick’s shoulders, and the Man was now wearing a surcoat.
So she says, at this point, that she called out to them, asking them how she could help them, not once but twice. The man then turned toward her and looked directly at her. He was wearing the garb of the french from four centuries ago, and his face was that of her husbands. During the entire vision, she felt as if she was about to witness some historical event. But as it was, she was reliving an exact moment from the past as what was on the near horizon for her. Immediately thereafter official directors came to visit the castle warning of an impending invasion.
In the library, just beneath the upper chamber, the voices of two men can be heard talking. If someone is reading or writing in the library, the ghostly conversation continues. But if that person stops reading or writing to listen in, the voices go hush.
And then there is the white pantry ghost. So back in the day, there was what was known as an inner pantry. This is where the silver was stored, and a guard was assigned the task of sleeping in the pantry to protect it. One night the sleeping guard was awoken by a pale woman wearing white, she was begging him for water. Thinking that the woman was a lost guest, he stands up to go get her some water. He then suddenly is reminded that he was locked in the inner pantry, there was no way out and certainly no way anyone could have gotten in. He turns to confront the woman and guess what, you got it, she’s gone! The same pale figure can be seen in the pantry today, still begging for that water. Footnote here, it is thought that the insistent yearning for water is a sign of having been poisoned.
Also on the castle grounds is a picturesque and seemingly peaceful lake, yeah, not so much! Beneath the pristine surface of the water lies the remains of thousands of Scots killed during the war with the English. Their corpses would be piled high onto wooden carts that would be emptied into the lake. Legend has it that the water is cursed and if you put your hand in it, the spirits of those that rest there will pull you in with them. Pool Party right!