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Warwick Castle's Ghost Tower

by Jean Bellamy

The atmosphere of magnificent Warwick Castle is redolent of secrecy, mystery and intrigue, and to enter the spooky, fourteenth century Ghost Tower is a somewhat scary experience. Decorated in Jacobean style, with a gateway leading from the base to the river, this tower is said to be haunted by the restless spirit of Sir Fulke Greville, who was murdered there by his manservant.

Warwick Castle

A prominent Elizabethan-Jacobean courtier, Greville lived from 1554 to 1628 and was a gifted poet. Warwick Castle was granted to him in 1604 by James I, and he was at one time Chancellor of the Exchequer. On leaving this post in 1621, he was raised to the peerage and given the title of Baron Brook.

Warwick CastleThe castle had fallen into a state of advanced decay, and from the date he acquired it until his death, Greville devoted his time and fortune to its restoration. The gardens he planted were said to be unparalleled in this part of England, though during the Civil war they were dug up for gun emplacements by the garrison defending the castle.

Inside the gloomy Ghost Tower, creaks, groans and mutterings emanate from dark doorways as one explores the two rooms, one up one down, in which Greville lived whilst the castle was undergoing repairs. As one climbs the stairs to the bedroom, low voices, recounting the chilling tale of the murder, penetrate the inky blackness. They tell how, while Greville and one of his man-servants are away in London, an argument breaks out between the two men. It concerns the contents of Greville's will, Ralph Heywood, the manservant, being convinced that his master, however generous in his plans for the restoration of the castle, has been less so towards himself. Believing that Greville has not bequeathed to him his rightful due he draws a knife and stabs Sir Fulke; after which, realizing the enormity of the deed he has committed, he turns the blade on himself and dies immediately.

Greville, however, lingers on in agony, until after 27 days, despite the efforts of his surgeons, he too succumbs. His body is brought from London back to Warwick Castle, and he is laid to rest in St. Mary's Church in the town. His ghost, it is said, still haunts the tower that was once his home; for dying an unnatural death, his soul is said to be unquiet. On his death, Greville being unmarried and without heirs, the estate goes to his adopted heir, Robert Greville, the second Lord Brooke.

Exploring Warwick Castle takes the visitor back over thousands of years of history. In particular, one may tour the recently opened 'Kingmaker's' exhibition with its realistic scents and smells. Here is brought to life a medieval household preparing for the final battle of Warwick the Kingmaker, who is shortly to die.

Warwick CastleBy way of contrast, the luxury of the state rooms presents a very different aspect of life at Warwick castle. For here the waxwork figures, which came into being when the castle was sold a decade or so ago to Madame Taussaud's, transport the visitor back to Victorian times. In the gardens, peacocks display in front of the Conservatory, the latter built in 1786 to house the Warwick Vase, an enormous piece of ancient Roman pottery excavated near Tivoli in 1771. A replica of the vase now occupies the conservatory which has reverted to its use in Victorian times as a glasshouse growing exotic plants.

Across the bridge lies the island where the river Avon separates and flows on either side. On this large area of land is a Victorian boathouse, and here during the 1890s the Countess of Warwick kept a small menagerie comprising a baby elephant, some Japanese deer, a flock of Chinese geese, an emu, raccoons, and an antbear. When the elephant grew too large, it was given away to an animal trainer in Lymington, while the emu achieved fame when it chased a bishop through the castle grounds.

For the energetic, exploring the ramparts and fortifications and climbing the towers with their numerous steps is another option. Or one may visit another eerie location -- the silent dungeon and torture chambers. Always provided one has survived the traumas of the Ghost Tower, that is!

More Information:

Warwick Castle: Britain's Great Mediaeval Experience
http://www.warwick-castle.co.uk/

Warwick Castle Tourist Information
http://www.warwick-uk.co.uk/

Warwick Castle (Wikipedia)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwick_Castle

Warwick Castle
http://www.everycastle.com/Warwick-Castle.html
Some great photos on this site.

The Ghost Tower of Warwick Castle
http://great-castles.com/warwickghost.php


Jean Bellamy has been writing since 1970, and is the author of over 300 published articles and short stories. She has written three children's novels (all with a "West Country flavour"). A resident of Dorset, she is the author of several local history books, including Treasures of Dorset, A Dorset Quiz Book, Second Dorset Quiz Book, Dorset Tea Trail, Dorset as she was spoke, Little Book of Dorset, 101 Churchces in Dorset, and Cornwall: A Look Back. Jean loves to explore and write on all things British.
Article © 2006 Jean Bellamy
Photos courtesy of Britainonview.com

 

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