From mysterious prophesies, phantom ghost stories and even ghostly sightings, lo and behold the haunting tales and myths from over 900 years of history at Leeds Castle.
As Halloween looms, we have explored three weird, spooky and hair-raising ghost stories, as shared over the years by Castle Stewards and local residents.
The Fortune and Ill-Fortune of Two Dogs
A popular local legend of two ghostly black curly-haired retriever dogs. Their appearance shares two tales, one dog giving good luck and the other bad luck. Both seen appearing and disappearing within moments, often into a wall or through a closed door, these stories have been shared in the castle and local village for generations.
Sightings of this dog often forewarned bad luck, or even death, for the occupants. It is said when the dog was spotted in passageways and rooms, a death or tragedy would occur.
The dog’s origins are said to lie in the demonic dabbling of Henry VI’s aunt, Eleanor Cobham, the former mistress and wife of Prince Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Eleanor was said to be a witch of the castle after she used potions and practised witchcraft. Perhaps the dogs are the aftermath from an ancient spell cast by this formidable lady, and has lingered around the estate ever since.
The second dog is said to bring luck to visitors, owners and the local community. One story tells the tale of a person sitting in a bay window seat in the now known Henry VIII Banqueting Hall.
A peaceful moment quickly changed when a dog appeared barking excessively. After disappearing then coming back several times, it was clear the dog was desperately trying to get their attention. The moment after the person stood to tend to the dog’s barking, the window to which they were sitting suddenly fell into the moat. The dog is said to have saved them from falling.
So, next time you’re in the Castle, keep your ears peeled for pitter-patters of footsteps and even a faint bark in the background.
The Mysterious Staircase – a tale from two Castle Stewards
“It was late in the afternoon in the Lower Gloriette. There were no visitors around. It was very quiet until I heard footsteps running down the spiral staircase. At the point two thoughts came to mind – running, which isn’t allowed, and why would someone be coming down the staircase.
“Thinking it was a member of the public in distress, I quickly made my way to the entrance of the Banqueting Hall, where I could see the staircase. There I ran into Jon who heard the same noise as me coming from the Queen’s Bedroom.
“We saw nobody. We looked throughout the castle – there wasn’t anything to be seen. We radioed the Heraldry Room to see if the ‘person’ had gone in there, and again there was nobody there.
“To this day we are convinced we heard ghostly steps on the staircase… perhaps they were playing hide and seek or coming to say hello!”
The Predictions of Alice Wykeham Martin
Alice was the daughter of Charles and Jemima Wykeham Martin, whose portraits can be found at the bottom of the main staircase, adjacent to the marble lion. It has been said that Alice had physic powers, and shared tales of her superstitions with the family to keep them safe.
One superstition was, if a hawk was brought into the castle, the death of the owner would soon follow. One day in 1878, a new under-gamekeeper, who had not been told of the superstition, brought a hawk into the gun room.
The occurrence was kept under hushed conversations and not allowed to reach the ears of Alice’s Uncle and owner of the castle, Philip Wykeham Martin.
The following day, Philip returned to his parliamentary duties and within a few days, was taken ill in the house. Sadly, Phillip died in the Library of the House of Commons.
Are these stories just a coincidence, or is there something more going on? We’ll leave that for you to decide.