A haunted castle

These days, Muncaster castle in western Cumbria is probably better known for its owl sanctuary. But it has a much longer and more varied history than that. According to Muncaster’s own website, the castle was built in the later 13th century, but records suggest there was already a house of some sort on the site – and the 14th century pele tower was quite probably built on Roman foundations.

A home with that much history is always going to have its fair share of ghost stories, and not surprisingly Muncaster is described as one of the most haunted castles in Britain. There are tales of boggarts and white ladies, crying children and noises in the night, and one particular room upstairs, the Tapestry Room, seems to be the centre of much of the paranormal activity.

We visited Muncaster a few years ago now (when I took the photo above) and were able to enter the Tapestry Room ourselves. Many people have reported feeling ‘cold for no apparent reason’ in the room and it certainly had a chilly air. Then again, unlike much of the rest of the house there was no source of heating, and the walls were painted in a particularly cold dark shade of blue. It’s possible that this ambience influences visitors’ experience of the room, so I’m keeping an open mind.

Interestingly, I did feel a frisson of something in another bedroom (which I seem to remember had a fire going and cheerful yellow walls) and in the vast dining room downstairs. Was that ghosts? Or just the cold and damp in an ancient stone building? Hard to tell, but the castle runs ghost tours and overnight ‘ghost sits’, so if you’d like to find out you can always go along and see for yourself. It’s a wonderful old place to visit anyway – and there’s always the added bonus of those owls…

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