This castle has been around since 1298 when it was a monastery. In 1344 it became a fortified castle. That’s 719 years, so you just know there’s some madness going on in there right!? The castle was intended as the first line of defense, in keeping the Scots from invading England. This was back in the day of William Wallace when the castle was ruled over by King Edward the 1st, so that should tell you right there that it has one hell of a horrifying history!
I’m gonna tell you all about it! Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we! As with most ancient castles, there is a dungeon! The Chillingham dungeon is a very small room carved from the stone base. Today, you can still see etchings in the walls where prisoners kept count of the days they had remaining, before they would be put to death. Most of them in the earlier years of the castle, fully expected to have both arms and legs cut off or at the least broken, then be thrown down a 20 foot hole where they would starve or bleed to death; if they didn’t die from their injuries. Those that survived the fall, were said to sometimes eat dead flesh from other bodies at the bottom of the pit. Some would even eat chunks of their own flesh in a desperate attempt to prolong their miserable lives. Today a steel grate covers the opening of the hole, it’s said that if you look down into the darkness that the face of a young woman will appear to you. She was the last person killed here, but I can’t find any explanation as to who she was, or why she was punished. All I found was that she lived for 3 days after before succumbing to her injuries.
So next up is the torture chamber! There are some sick and deranged pieces of equipment in this room, still in working condition today! This sucker was built with pain and torment in mind. The floor is hewn from the stone and has a slight slope so that the blood would drain away to one side. There’s a huge boiling pot, implements for gouging out someones eyeballs, and there are these barrels. They’re lined with metal spikes on the inside. They’d stuff a prisoner inside the barrel and roll them around until their flesh was ripped from their bodies. Then they’d leave them locked inside the barrel to die in agony from their wounds. There are also these freaky looking little cages, guess what these twisted bastards would use them for?! This is crazy! They would attach the cages to a prisoner’s body and put a starving rat inside. The only way for the rat to escape was to eat through the prisoner. That is some deranged shit right there!
What kind of twisted half breed could even think of this kind of madness! I’ll tell you! His name was John Sage. Sage was one of the King’s most brutal warriors in the battlefield but one day his leg was injured in battle badly enough to end his days of fighting the King’s wars. Sage begged the King to keep him on in some position. The King, familiar with his vicious skills and his hatred toward the Scots, decided to name him Castle torturer. Sage loved his new position, so much in fact that he even began creating torture devises.
Sage tortured fifty or more prisoners per week, each victim fell subject to him testing and improving his latest means of torture. Sage thoroughly lavished in his torturing but as all good things do, it came to an end. The war with the Scots would soon be over and his supply of prisoners would dwindle. Furious with the threat of peace, Sage went into some of the surrounding towns and began murdering anyone he suspected to have been of Scottish descent. When he returned to the castle, there was talk of freeing the prisoners.
Yeah, well he wasn’t up for that. Sage rounded up all of the men, women and older children from his hordes of prisoners and leads them to the courtyard where there’s a huge bon fire burning. They weren’t fixing to make S’mores, I’ll tell you that right now! Sage has all of them tied up and thrown into the fire. Hundreds of prisoners were burned to death and guess what was just within eyesight of the massive fire? A window, in fact it was the window to the Edward room where all of the prisoner’s younger children were being held. No doubt the ones tall enough to see out of it were watching on as their parents died agonizing deaths. Those that couldn’t see out, surely heard their screams and smelled their burning flesh.
Sage, a battle hardened soldier, knew that if he released the children they would grow up and one day come to seek their revenge, he’d be an old man by then. So, this evil bastard takes a small axe to the Edward room and begins hacking the kids to pieces. These kids ranged from maybe 8 years old all the way down to infants. His horrific act rendered the Edward room into one of the most active rooms in the entire castle. The chandelier is said to swing randomly, the room has a foul smell and or course a very strange atmosphere. Glowing orbs and the faces of terrified children are often caught on film. Their tormented screams are frequently heard and recorded by those that visit the room.
Back to Sage. In the torture chamber there is a torture rack, on the torture rack is Sage’s girlfriend and they’re having sex. Well he starts cranking the gears on the rack and accidentally kills the girlfriend. Hope it was good, cause that was the last he got! See, his girlfriends Father just happened to be a member of Border Reivers. They were a bad ass gang of broken men and outlaws. Needless to say Dad wanted Sage dead right then and there.
The Border Reivers were a very powerful organization that had a vast and very skilled fighting force. Legend has it that there was a meeting between King Edward and the leaders of the gang. The King was to have Sage killed immediately else the Reivers would join up with the Scots and launch a full scale attack on the castle. So King Edward has Sage hanged in front of an enormous crowd. Sage was so hated and feared that people in the crowd wanted souvenirs. They began cutting chunks of flesh from his body, while he was still alive. It is unknown how long Sage hanged while be mutilated before he finally died. Fitting I would say. So, Sage, of course is seen all over the castle and grounds and of course in his beloved torture chamber. As we know, ghosts tend to return to the places that they loved most!
Next up is the Great Hall that leads to the Chapel and the Minstrels gallery. Let me clarify here, the Minstrels gallery was not a room full of PMSing women, this is where the musicians performed. Ok back to The Great Hall. It’s a long room with a lot of artifacts on the walls. The most notable are a tapestry which cold spots are frequently associated with and a skull that sits on the table in front of the tapestry. The skull is known to move all around the Great Hall on it’s own, but never leaves the room. There are windows that line the wall that look out into the courtyard. Ghostly children are often seen staring in through the windows. On one investigation a small boy ghost was photographed in a chair sitting to the left of the skull.
The Minstrels gallery is a balcony that overlooks the tea room. People have been pushed down the stairs here. Other folks have been overcome by violent waves or nausea or stabbing pains in their head while in the gallery. Huh, kind of like PMS right?! Anyway, There is a legend that says when the tea room was being excavated, a massive toad like creature broke through the wall, took human form then disappeared. The legends says that it is this creature that haunts the area.
Then there’s the Chapel, where walls are covered with weapons of war and flags that the King’s men would carry into battle. The Chapel was also recently excavated and beneath the floorboards, relics and human bones were found. Maybe that would have something to do with the fact that cameras and recorders will not work here. Most of the time, batteries are drained completely before there is a chance to use the equipment, some of the time the equipment just will not work at all.
Next up is the Edward room, or more affectionately known as the killing room. Among the decor is a suit of armor bearing a two handed sword. The walls are covered with other varying types of war weapons, cow horns and flags. The most notable relic hanging on display in the Edward room are the documents that were found with the Blue Boy when he was discovered inside the wall.
The Blue is one of the more famous of ghosts here at the castle. Legend states that the Boy was found in possession of some documents that were given to him by the aristocrat that owned Chillingham Castle. The documents were to be given to the Spanish Armada in order to help them defeat the English. The documents never made it out of the castle, they were walled up in a passage way, along wit the boy they had been given to.
While having renovations and repairs made in 1920, his bones were discovered and with them were the documents along with shards of blue fabric from his clothes. The tips of all of his finger bones were missing. The kid tried desperately to claw himself free of his grave.
It has been reported for centuries that at the stroke of midnight the harrowing cries of the Blue boy can be heard echoing from the stone passageway adjacent to the castles “pink room” When the last of his cries fade away, it is said that a bright halo of light appears near the four poster bed. If you’re lucky enough to be the one sleeping in the bed, you will see the ghost of a small boy dressed in blue, illuminated by a bright halo of light. Blue Boy is said to approach the bed and stare at those laying in it, but only for a moment, he then walks away and disappears into the very wall he was discovered buried behind.
Another well known ghost is that of Lady Mary Berkeley. She wanders the corridors searching for her wayward husband, Lord Grey, who actually ran off with her sister. Dirty Bastard! Lady Berkeley doesn’t have much to say, but when she is near she definitely sends a cold chill up your spine. That’s her in the photo on the left.
Another lady ghost is an ancestor of the Grey Family. She has been seen stepping from out of her own paintings and following folks around the castle. There are documents of her having done so since the Tankerville’s inhabited the castle. Sometimes this unnamed lady is seen walking around on the grounds and throughout the castle and is often mistaken for a tour guide in period clothing.
In the library, beneath the upper chamber, the voices of two men can be heard talking. If someone is reading or writing in the library, the ghostly conversation continues. But if that person stops reading or writing to listen in, the voices go hush.
And then there is the white pantry ghost. So back in the day, there was what was known as an inner pantry. This is where the silver was stored, and a guard was assigned the task of sleeping in the pantry to protect it. One night the sleeping guard was awoken by a pale woman wearing white, she was begging him for water. Thinking that the woman was a lost guest, he stands up to go get her some water. He then suddenly is reminded that he was locked in the inner pantry, there was no way out and certainly no way anyone could have gotten in. He turns to confront the woman and guess what, you got it, she’s gone! The same pale figure can be seen in the pantry today, still begging for that water. Footnote here, it is thought that the insistent yearning for water is a sign of having been poisoned.
Also on the castle grounds is a picturesque and seemingly peaceful lake, yeah, not so much! Beneath the pristine surface of the water lies the remains of thousands of Scots killed during the war with the English. Their corpses would be piled high onto wooden carts that would be emptied into the lake. Legend has it that the water is cursed and if you put your hand in it, the spirits of those that rest there will pull you in with them. Impromptu Pool Party right!
The castle is presently being renovated by it’s new owner, a tremendous undertaking to say the least. But one never knows what will be discovered while excavations and repairs are ongoing. In earlier attempts to restore the castle, workmen discovered two skeletons, the bones of a man and child. They were found close to a trap door near the stone arches of the underground vaults. No one knows for certain who they were or why they were there. Some speculate that they had been hiding during a Border Reivers attack and may have wound up trapped in their hiding place.
Workmen also discovered a small chamber in the lower dungeons. When they opened the wall they found the perfectly preserved body of a man just sitting in a chair. Unfortunately once the cavity filled with fresh air, the body crumbled away like ashes.
The Castle has so many ghosts that there is actually an onsite paranormal investigation staff! It’s no wonder, the castle has been around for so very long. There were good times and of course bad, some really bad, right! With a record 18 knights there were bound to be problems, egos you know! There were 8 executions within the family itself. These were brutal events. Some were hanged, then, drawn and quartered. While they were still alive, they were cut down from the gallows to have their entrails removed and as if that wasn’t enough, before their heart beat for a last time, their bodies would be cut into quarters. Their heads were then hung on the city gates to serve as warning to others. The luckiest of those to have been executed within the family simply had their heads cut off. They got off easy right!?
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