Windsor Castle is without doubt one of the most spectacular castles in Britain, if not the world. Many famous ghosts have been reported haunting the castle, including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and a demonic horned being that brings death to all that see it.
It has been a Royal residence since the reign of William I in the 11th century. In the 13th century the castle was rebuilt by Edward III, and further improvements have been made by successive monarchs. The castle is almost one mile in circumference and is the largest in Britain. Since it was built, the Castle has been embroiled in legends of suicide, witchcraft and demonic ghosts. The list of ghostly sightings reported at the Castle is huge.
One of the most famous ghosts reported at the Castle is that of King Henry VIII. Guests staying at the castle have reported hearing the king's footsteps along the long hallways of the Castle. Some have even claimed to hear moans and groans coming from the hallway. One of his wives, Anne Boleyn, has been seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister.
Queen Elizabeth I is said to haunt the Royal Library and has been seen by several members of the Royal family. The sounds of her high heels are heard on bare floorboards, before her imposing figure appears and passes through the library and into an inner room. She has also been seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister. She is always dressed in a black gown with a black lace shawl draped over her shoulders.
There is a demonic horned being said to bring death and disease to those who are unfortunate enough to see it, especially the Royal family. Other legends tell of witchcraft and suicide.
In the last 250 years, hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the spirit of Herne the Hunter, who was the favourite huntsman of King Richard II. He is often seen accompanied by his pack of hounds, careering across the Great Park searching for lost souls.
The story is that Herne was one of the Royal keepers in the time of King Richard II (1367-1400). Herne had two large black hounds and was hated by the other keepers because of his great skill. One evening King Richard was hunting a stag in the grounds of Windsor Park, but the stag turned on him and he would have been killed if Herne hadn't stood between the enraged animal and Richard.
However, Herne was fatally wounded and fell to the ground. At this point a strange dark man appeared and said he could cure Herne. Richard asked him to go ahead and the dark man cut the stag's head off and put it on Herne's body. The Dark Man then took Herne away to his hut on Bagshot Heath some miles away, to complete the cure. The King was so grateful to Herne that he swore that if Herne recovered he would make him his chief keeper.
The other keepers disliked Herne so much that they wished that he would die. The Dark Man overheard them and offered them a bargain - if they would grant him the first request he made, he would ensure that, though Herne would recover, he would lose all his hunting skills. They agreed and everything happened as the Dark Man said. Herne was so distraught at the loss of his skill that he found a mighty oak in Windsor Park and hanged himself from it. Instantly, his body disappeared.
The other keepers weren't happy for long though, because they too lost all their hunting abilities. They found the Dark Man and asked him to help them. He said that if they went to the oak the following night, they would have a solution to their problem. When they went to the Oak, the spirit of Herne appeared to them. He told them to go and fetch his hounds and horses for a chase.
This they did and when they returned, Herne took them to a Beech tree. There he invoked the Dark Man who burst from the tree in a shower of sparks and flame. His first request of the unfortunate keepers was that they form a band for Herne the Hunter. Bound by their oath, they had to swear allegiance to Herne. After that, night after night, they hunted through the forests.
The ghostly hunt's approach is presaged by flashes of lightning, wind in the tree tops, the rattling of chains and tolling of bells and the terrible din of a pack of dogs in mad pursuit. As the legend goes, if you hear the baying of the ghostly hounds in the sky, run away, because if they catch you, you too will be forced to follow Herne and his Wild Hunt, ranging across the night skies for eternity.
In the early 1860's the tree from which Herne was found hanging, was cut down, and Queen Victoria kept the oak logs for her fire "To help kill the ghost". Her plan didn't work however.
King Charles I has often been seen in the library and the Canon's house. Although he was beheaded during the English Revolution, his ghost is seen as a whole. It is reported that he looks exactly like his portraits.
King George III had many bouts with mental deterioration. During these times he was kept out of the public's eye. He has been seen looking out the windows located below the Royal Library, where he was confined during the recurrence of his illness.
Sir George Villiers, The first Duke of Buckingham, is said to haunt one of the bedrooms of Windsor castle.
The Deanery is haunted by a young boy who shouts, "I don't want to go riding today". It is probably his footsteps which are heard in the same building.
The 'Prison Room' in the Norman Tower is haunted, possibly by a former Royalist prisoner from Civil War times. Children playing there have seen him and adults have felt him brush past.
Ghostly footsteps are often heard on the staircase in the Curfew Tower. On one occasion, the bells began to swing on their own while the temperature became distinctly chilly.
In 1873, a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George's Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down. The central standing character was in the act of striking with a large sword. The sentry knew nothing of this artwork and when the visitor returned to re-examine it, it had gone!
Many spirits haunt the Long Walk, one of whom is a young Grenadier Guard who shot himself while on duty there in the 1920s. During his guard watch, he saw marble statues moving "of their own accord." He was seen by at least two of his colleagues, immediately after his death.