Getting married is traditionally the best day of your life. Consumed with happiness, you both are riding high on the wings of love and nothing can touch you… or can it?
Numerous wedding venues across the country have built up a reputation as being haunted. Sightings of ghostly goings-on have been reported by the bride and groom themselves, and by unsuspecting guests. Whether or not you believe in the spirit world, the following list of spook-clad buildings may have you delving into the venues’ haunted history before you check in for your romantic wedding stay.
#5 Muncaster Castle
Number five on the list of spooky UK wedding venues is the historic, majestic, and (self-proclaimed) haunted Muncaster Castle. The castle is reportedly home to several ghosts, the most famous of which is Henry VI. The King took refuge here after his defeat at the Battle of Hexham, and is said to roam the corridors wailing in self-pity.
Other ghosts that reportedly reside here include; a young girl who was hanged in the castle; a head-carrying apprentice carpenter; and, possibly the most feared of them all, Thomas Skelton (aka Tom the Fool.) Tom the fool was a 16th Century jester, and was one who took great pleasure in leading castle guests to their quick-sand induced deaths. His portrait reportedly hangs within the castle but is believed to be hidden somewhere in the private quarters. Yes, that’s right: the castle is still a lived-in family home and has been since 1208… It can’t be that scary then, can it?
Update; A marketing agency working for Muncaster Castle with some enhanced information. Here’s what they said;
… it states Muncaster is haunted by Henry VI but while he did take refuge here as said, there are no reports of him haunting the place. We don’t claim a royal ghost!
Re other ghosts mentioned – Mary Bragg was murdered on the road nearby, not hanged, and the head-carrying apprentice carpenter was a new one on us. However a crying child is often heard, people staying overnight often hear footsteps when there’s no-one there, door handles turn by themselves and room temperatures plummet for no apparent reason. The info about Thomas Skelton is ok except that his portrait hangs on public display.
#4 Tutbury Castle
The second castle that features on the haunted list, and fourth in terms of frightfulness, is Staffordshire’s Tutbury Castle. Mary Queen of Scots is said to roam Tutbury’s corridors’: Mary was held captive here by Elizabeth I on four separate occasions. This spooky venue actively encourages the bride and groom to have a second torch-lit wedding ceremony at midnight. Furthermore, they are asked if they wish to participate in one of the venue’s infamous ghost hunts that take place within the spooky castle grounds as an enhanced ‘celebration’ of their nuptials.
Over 40 male guests saw Marry Queen of Scots back in 2004 standing at the top of the south tower: thinking it was just the female curator donning a white gown, they all stood and laughed. The men later discovered that the curator was not on duty that night. In June this year, it was reported by archaeologists working in the grounds that a very active (and helpful) Mary was seen taking part in one of their seasonal digs.
#3 Ettington Park Hotel
Potentially built on a Roman villa site, this Neo-Gothic mansion is number three on the list of haunting hollows. Ettington Park Hotel has a rich and varied history: The building was used as a Prisoner of War camp following World War II and, prior to that, a nursing home. A luxury hotel since the 1980s, Ettington was the spooky setting for the movie, ‘The Haunting’, filmed in 1963. It has also encountered raging fire forcing it to close for many years prior to it’s re-opening as a licensed establishment.
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire spent an evening ‘ghost-busting’ at the hotel in 2006. Although they experienced no major goings-on, they did encounter a sudden and dramatic drop in temperature in certain rooms, and spent the evening on tenterhooks after hearing the staff’s ghostly tales. There have been countless ghostly reports at the hotel over the years; namely, moving books in the library; apparitions of a grey haired lady, a groundsman, and a servant; singing voices heard in the drawing room; and a candle hovering over a mantelpiece in the reception area. Two of the notable spirits taking residence at the Ettington are thought to be the ghosts of John Pritchard and Edward Shirley.
#2 Comlongon Castle
The runner-up in our most haunted wedding venue list is the 15th Century, Scottish border stronghold – Comlongon Castle. This magnificent building has a very conspicuous, and very permanent, resident in the form of Lady Marion Carruthers.
Lady Marion was said to have been ‘driven to madness’ back in the 16th century after being held captive in the building for many years. After being granted permission to marry her, Sir James Douglas – of the powerful Douglas family – would become joint owner of the family estate – Mouswald Castle. Marion tried to get out of the imminent marriage, but all attempts failed so she fled to her uncle’s castle and sought sanctuary at Comlongon. Marion was eventually court-ordered to surrender herself to James, and he did in fact inherit her estate. After many torturous years, it is believed that, the now insane, Marion committed suicide by leaping from the castle’s lookout tower. Some, however, believe that Marion was actually pushed to her death by James’ men after being ordered to do so.
Intriguingly, it has been noted for many years that no grass grows in the spot where Marion landed. Her ghostly apparition is often seen in and around the castle tower, crying. Due to the ruling of her death as suicide, Marion was not eligible for a Christian burial; as such, she is said to haunt the castle that ultimately became her place of unrest. Many former guests, including those from wedding parties, have reported seeing her ghost in one particular section of the hotel. Some have even taken photographs of the ghostly image and handed the prints to staff. These paranormal pictures are consistently being added to…
#1 Walworth Castle Hotel
So, we have reached number 1 in our list of UK’s most haunted wedding venues. It may be surprising that the top spot goes to a hotel from the Best Western dynasty, but this no ordinary modern day chain: the building is a Grade 1 listed, Medieval-styled castle that was commissioned and built prior to 1600.
Walworth was home to over 200 German and Italian captives in the World War, and has also been a council-run girl’s school in the 50s. A private hotel since 1981, and gaining a wedding license shortly after, the building is said to be haunted by a former pregnant maid who had an affair with the Lord of the house. Fearing others would find about his illegitimate child, the Lord is said to have had the maid bricked up into the wall of the castle’s spiral staircase that conveniently, was having work done to it.
The spirit of the ill-fated maid is said to now roam the hotel and countless paranormal activities has been cited: Guests have been woken up by rattling tea cups; a female ghost has been seen roaming what was once the corridor to the honeymoon suite; ascending footsteps have been heard coming from the staircase at the rear of the library; and chambermaids have even reported having their hair pulled. Reports most closely linked to the tale of the maid include that of a ghostly woman emerging from one of the walls in the staircase, and guests hearing a woman desperately crying from behind the stairs in question.
In Pure Spirit
Would you get married in a haunted venue? Ask your wedding guests to dress up as ghosts, have a themed wedding and appear in the papers?
Are you planning a wedding for 2014? What tips, sites and deals would you recommend to fellow In Pure Spirit readers?
Image credit: Walworth Castle picture by Ulleskelf released under Creative Commons.