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Castle's ghostly reputation leads to expansion plans

CHILLINGHAM Castle is increasing its guest accommodation to cater for the growing number of ghost seekers visiting the medieval fortress.

The 14th century castle's reputation as one of Britain's most haunted houses has grown in recent years as a result of cult television shows such as Living TV's Most Haunted.

As a result, owner Sir Humphry Wakefield has decided a conversion of the 1799 coach house is required to meet demand.

He said: "We kept the ghosts under wraps for a long time but I think they were squeaking to get out so we released them and decided to welcome visitors and that has proved very popular."

However, guests are being warned to watch out for a screaming banshee that allegedly haunts the building.

"According to legend someone was murdered in this building in centuries past and it has been said to take the form of a screaming banshee," said Sir Humphry.

"Having said that, many of the ghosts at Chillingham are gentle, loving, welcoming and happily spellbinding."

The most famous of Chillingham's ghosts is the 'blue boy', who as midnight rang out would cry and moan in agony (or maybe fear). The noises could be traced to a spot near a passage cut through a ten foot wall.

When the bloodcurdling wails die away a soft halo of light appears around an old four poster bed. Anyone sleeping there, even today, can see the figure of a young boy dressed in blue, and surrounded by light. Behind the wall the bones of a young boy and fragments of blue clothing were discovered.

Another ghost, Lady Mary Berkeley, searches for her husband, who ran off with her sister. Lady Mary, desolate and broken hearted lived in the castle by herself with only her baby girl as a companion. The rustle of her dress can be heard as she passes you by in the turret stairs.

The plan to create eight apartments was approved by Berwick Borough Council's planning committee on Tuesday. The extra accommodation will also be used for weddings, corporate hospitality, celebrations, banquets and private functions.

Although the building will be transformed inside, Sir Humphry said the fabric of the building and its exterior will remain exactly as it is.

Plans to convert a theatre into a museum were also approved. It may feature the family history of the Wakefield and Grey families as well as artefacts and information about the unique herd of wild cattle on the estate.

e-mail: iansmith@tweeddalepress.co.uk

 
 
 

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