Muncaster Castle has been home to the Pennington family since the mid-13th century and it is believed by many to be one of the country’s most haunted castles.
Indeed there are several ghosts with which it is associated.
Recent archaeological excavations suggest the site of the Castle which is situated near Ravenglass in Cumbria, may once have been the location of a spectacular Roman fort. Today however, three generations of Pennington’s share their home with the visiting tourists, and possibly the ghosts which are said to roam throughout the castle. Patrick Gordon Duff Pennington, a current resident of the castle has said that in the winter time he frequently hears footsteps following him in the dark!
Muncaster has at least four known ghostly tenants:
Unsurprisingly one of them is Henry VI who was murdered in the Tower of London after Edward IV victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury and he appears in the chamber he occupied possibly wanting to return to a place where he felt happy and in the company of loyal subjects.
A much more disconcerting spectre is that of a young carpenter murdered in the late 16th century. Apparently he had fallen in love with Helwise, the daughter of Ferdinand Pennington who was incensed by this and ordered his jester Thomas Skelton known as 'Tom Fool' to murder the poor carpenter which Tom gleefully did, severing the carpenter's head and bringing it to Sir Ferdinand as proof. The carpenters headless body is said to stalk the battlements of Muncaster to this day.
But the murder of this poor carpenter was not the only accomplishment attributed to 'Tom Fool' . It was well known that he would sit under a chestnut tree which still grows outside the castle and if any wayfarers came upon him asking for directions, he would direct them to nearby quicksand rather to the London Road which they would be seeking! There is a portrait of 'Tom Fool' which now hangs at the end of a corridor at Muncaster Castle and he is said to make an appearance there as well as his occasional appearance on the battlements. Tom actually made out his own will which is displayed next to his portrait and in it he foretold his own death by drowning. A female tourist gazing at Tom's portrait is said to have heard footsteps coming up behind her clattering as if on a stone floor. The fact that the corridor floor is carpeted made this an even more strange occurrence. But of all the rooms at Muncaster Castle, the Tapestry room is probably the most haunted of all. It is situated in a remote little used wing of the castle and many people who have stayed there have reported strange mutterings and the sound of a child crying in the room. A friend of this author, Charles James Ruthven Howard, Earl of Carlisle, said he also came face-to-face with a weeping child when he stayed in the Tapestry room. This was the only occasion that he stayed there and he was woken up in the middle of the night by the weeping cries of a young child. He admitted that he had never been more terrified in his life than at that moment.
There have also been even more terrifying reports in the Tapestry room of black figures leaning over the fourposter bed and a black featureless figure walking into the Tapestry room and vanishing!
The grounds at Muncaster Castle are also said to be haunted by ghosts in particular that of the 'White Lady' which is believed was a certain Mary Bragg a local woman murdered in 1805 AD.