THE GHOSTS OF BERRY POMEROY CASTLE, DEVON
Posted January 8, 2013on:
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The de la Pomerai family used Berry Pomeroy Castle as their home from 1066-1548, and in 1550 Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and brother of Jane Seymour (third wife of King Henry VIII), built a large mansion within the castle walls. The Seymours lived there until late in the 17th century, when they were forced to evacuate the place due to the structural damage incurred during the English Civil War. The building suffered further when a disastrous fire broke out in 1708.
One day, towards the end of the 19th century, Sir Walter Farquhar called at the cstle to attend to the wife of the steward, who was seriously ill. Whilst waiting to see his patient he was shown into a room which had flight of stairs going up to the floor above. While he was alone the door opened and a richly-dressed lady entered. She was wringing her hands in distress and totally ignored Sir Walter as she hurried across the room and charged up the stairs. At the top she paused, then looked directly at Sir Walter before disappearing. On his next visit Sir Walter casually mentioned his sighting of the beautiful lady to the steward, who responded by getting very upset. When he had calmed down he explained to Sir Walter that he had actually seen a ghost, and even worse, she was generally acknowledged to be a messenger of death. The steward’s wife died a few hours later.
This unwelcome woman is one of a pair of ghostly sisters who used to live at the castle. They were called Eleanor and Margaret de Pomeroy, and naturally one was beautiful and the other was plain. They both loved the same man, and Eleanor – the plain one – was insanely jealous of her beautiful sister’s relationship with him. Unable to control her bitterness any longer, Eleanor had the fair Margaret chained up in the dungeons to keep her out of the way. Eleanor now had the lothario all to herself. He responded equally eagerly, and didn’t really seem too fussed by poor Margaret’s rather rapid disappearance.
Eleanor would leave him while he was still recovering from her attentions, and dash down to the dungeon to relate the entire experience to her sister. Margaret eventually starved to death. Legend has it that she now rises from her old prison and wanders the ramparts in flowing garments, beckoning to anyone unfortunate enough to see her. She has also been seen close to the arches near the gatehouse, clad in a long blue hooded cloak, and her profile was captured in a photograph in 1968. The cell where Margaret was imprisoned has a hideously claustrophobic feel, and during a live vigil here the ‘Most Haunted’ team experienced a TV set activating of its own accord. (Whilst here, I overheard one old lady explaining to another about the story of Eleanor, the jealous sister. “Oh she was probably framed”, said the other “They always were in those days”).
A phantom baby has also been reported crying in the castle several times during the past 50-odd years. It was rumoured to have been murdered by his mother soon after birth, but whether this is the work of the dreadful Eleanor I do not know.
An atmosphere of loneliness, dread and even downright evil has been noted at the castle ruins by extra-perceptive visitors. Some claim to have been lured by a peculiar urge to an unsafe spot in or near the ruins. If you can be there at a quiet time, it is an extraordinarily atmospheric place, a feeling almost of time standing still.
On a visit there in 2002, the central locking device on our hire-car failed to work, even though it worked perfectly fine everywhere else. Paranormal author Joan Forman once experienced a time-slip whilst driving through the woods here, where she saw a collection of huts and ragged children, as if from many centuries ago.