Chillingham Castle is widely regarded as one of the most haunted places in the country with hundreds of paranormal events being recorded. Dating back over 800 years, this castle was built for one purpose and one purpose alone, killing.
In the heart of Northumberland the castle was the first line of defence, preventing the Scots getting over the border to invade England back in the days of William Wallace when the castle was ruled over by King Edward I (Edward Long shanks). It has a truly amazing, yet horrific history and that's why its one of the most haunted places on Earth.
The Dungeon is a very small room with markings scratched into the mortar where prisoners have kept count of how many days they have left to live. The prisoners could expect to have had their arms and legs broken before being thrown 20ft down a hole into the Oubliette and left there to die, either from starvation or their injuries. Sometimes prisoners would start to eat chunks of flesh from others and even their own bodies in a vain attempt to prolong their life. It has been reported that if you look down through the grate covering the Oubliette you can see the remains of a young girl looking back up at you. These are the remains of the last person to be killed here. Many people have experienced things here, orbs have been seen and photographed and some people have actually picked up emotions from the room. The room has a depressing feel to it.
Next up is the Torture Chamber, nearly all of the torture implements are in perfect working order and each is as sick and deranged as the next. The floor is on a slope, this was so the blood could drain away down to one side of the room. For many thousands of Scots this will have been the last place they ever saw. The torturer here was a man called John Sage, he was a major celebrity in his day.
Before he was a torturer he was one of King Edward's best men in the battlefield, and had worked his way up to the rank of Lieutenant. Sage was injured one day whilst at battle, his leg was wounded and he couldn't fight anymore. Sage begged Long shanks to keep him on in some capacity and he was given the role of castle torturer. Sage was a brutal man, he hated the Scots and he revelled in the role, even devising some devices of his own.
There is a boiling pot, gadgets for gouging eyes out, barrels full of spikes that would have had a prisoner tied in and rolled around until the flesh was ripped from the body and they died in agony, there are cages that would have been attached to a prisoners stomach and a starved rat would be put inside and the only way out for the rat was to eat his way out through the victim!
Some of the things the prisoners would have endured at the hands of this man are unimaginable. Sage tortured upwards of 50 people a week for the three years he held down this job. There are many torture devices on show. The guide tells us he never comes down here on his own as he has felt a malevolent presence here on more than one occasion
As the war was coming to an end with the Scots, John Sage wanted rid of the Scottish prisoners being held in the castle so he rounded up the men, women and older children took them to the courtyard and put them all onto a huge bonfire. The younger children were kept in the Edward room and could probably see their parents being burned alive, they will have heard the screams and will have been able to smell the burning flesh.
Sage knew that if he released the younger children they would return when they were older to seek revenge, so he took a small axe and went to the Edward room and hacked the children, some as young as one year old, to pieces. The axe can be seen today on the stair well. The Edward room is one of the most active rooms in the castle and people often say they see the chandelier hanging from the ceiling swinging without it being moved. The room has a foul smell and a strange atmosphere.
In the torture chamber there is also a torture rack, this particular device proved to be the undoing of John Sage, for Sage had a girlfriend Elizabeth Charlton, and one night they were having sex on the rack when Sage started to strangle Elizabeth to heighten her sexual pleasure, unfortunately he took it too far and killed her. Elizabeth's father was a member of the Border Reivers, a group of tribal leaders, broken men and outlaws. They were not to be messed with, and of course they wanted Sage killed.
The Border Reivers were a very powerful organisation who commanded a vast, highly skilled and experienced fighting force. It is recorded that the Reivers met with Edward Long Shanks and instructed him that if he did not have Sage killed they would join forces with the Scots and launch an assault on Chillingham castle. This time the Scots would probably win due to their backing from the Border Reivers.
As Long Shanks was virtually penniless due to the war against the Scots, he was forced to call for Sage to be hung. Sage was captued and hung in front of an enormous crowd, in the grounds of Chillingham Castle. As he hung the crowd started to take souvenirs, cutting off Sage's toes, fingers, testicles and nose whilst he was still alive. Its not known how long Sage hung there mutilated before he died. The ghost of John Sage has been seen wandering the castle by many of the visitors and staff. Others claim to have heard footsteps followed by the sound of someone dragging something.
The Great Hall leads into the Chapel and the Minstrels Gallery. The Great Hall is a long room with lots of artefacts on the wall. There is a life size statue of a horseman on his horse, there is a huge stuffed elephant's head with chain mail elephant armour on, and there is also a tapestry with a skull beneath it. People have experienced lots of strange things near the tapestry, whether it be cold spots or noises being heard.
From the courtyard figures are often seen passing the windows of the great hall when no one is actually in there. The skull is also known to move around the room but never leaves it. One of our readers recommended Chillingham Castle for investigation, they had visited the castle several months ago and had taken many photos, when they had them developed they noticed the strange ghostly presence sat in the chair on the left at the back of the hall.
The Minstrels Gallery is a balcony overlooking what is now used as the Tea Room. People have been pushed down the stairs here and, while on this balcony, people often suffer from terrible headaches and/or an awful feeling of nausea to the point where they feel like throwing themselves over the top down onto the concrete floor below. There is a story that when Tea Room was being excavated a giant toad-like creature came through a wall before taking the form of a human and then disappearing, it is said that it now haunts the castle.
The Chapel is where people would come to pray to their God before going out to kill Scots, or torture them, this is a place of total hypocrisy. On the wall are flags that would have been taken into battle, a huge sword, a spirit bell, crucifixes, paintings of Mary, the mother of Christ. The Chapel was recently excavated and relics and human bones were found under the floorboards. Cameras often refuse to work in this room. Digital camera sometimes have there batteries drained of power in this room other people have found orbs in there photos. Our group's cameras did not pick up any anomolies, however I felt several cold spots in this room. Others in the group also confirmed these cold spots, although no draught could be found to explain them.
The Edward Room (also know as the Killing Room) is on the top floor of the castle. All the way around the top of the room runs a balcony. In the room is a suit of armour holding a two-handed sword, on the walls hang weapons such as swords and pikes, there is a helmet, lots of cow horns and flags. On display are the documents that were found walled up with a Boy in the Pink Room (closed to the public).
The Blue Boy (also known as the Radiant Boy) found some documents to be given to the Spanish from the aristocrat who owned the castle at the time to help them defeat the English during the time of the Spanish Armada. The boy was walled up alive with the documents and his body was found in the 1920s along with some blue cloth from his clothes hence the blue boy. The bones of his fingers were worn away from where he had been trying to scratch his way out.
It has been reported that when the hour of midnight sounds sometimes you can hear his cries of agony and fear. The centre of the cries always emanate from the Pink room. The noises are usually traced to a spot near a passage cut through a ten-foot wall. When the wails die away, a bright halo of light sometimes appears around the old four poster bed, anybody sleeping in the bed would see the figure of a young boy dressed in blue, and surrounded by light, gently approaching them. He is the most famous ghost to roam the castle and he also seems to be the friendliest towards the public.
Another famous Chillingham ghost is that of Lady Mary Berkeley, wife of Lord Grey of Wark and Chillingham. The ghost wanders the corridors of the castle looking for her wayward husband who ran away with Mary's own sister. Lady Mary was left in the castle, alone with her baby girl as companion, heartbroken. Visitors to Chillingham have often heard the rustle of an old fashioned dress or a chill as if the ghost of Lady Mary has walked by.
A ghost originating from a family portrait has also appeared to the Grey family. The apparition of a woman was seen by the Tankerville's children and their nurse stepping out of the painting, it then followed them around the castle for several minutes. After a family friend stayed at the castle, they saw the same ghost but this time she emerged from another of her portraits. Her spirit has also been seen her walking the corridors mistaken for a guide in period clothing.
In the Library, underneath the upper chamber, the voices of two men are often heard talking, but it is not possible to follow what they say and they seem to cease at once if one stops reading or writing to listen to their discussion. It disturbs no one and many have heard it but none has accounted for the voices or who the two may be.
The lake is very picturesque, fish can be seen jumping in the water and otters live here too. To look at the lake you'd never know that beneath the surface lie the remains of thousands of Scots killed during the war with the English, the bodies would be bundled onto a cart and then thrown into the lake. The water is rumoured to be cursed, if you put your hand into the water the souls of the dead will pull you under.
During restoration work in the nineteenth century workmen uncovered two grinning skeletons, the bones of a man and child, close to a trap door that opens to the stone arches of the underground vaults. Is it possible that they hid during a Border Reiver attack only to be trapped in their safe-hiding place. Workmen also discovered in the lower dungeons of the castle, the perfectly preserved figure of a man sitting in a chair. Unfortunately as soon as the air rushed in, the body crumbled.