Ghostly Goings-On in the Court of Edward II

In the spirit of the season, I thought that I should note that Richard Felix, who evidently hosts a British TV show called “Most Haunted,” spent the night of September 21, 2007 (the 680th anniversary of Edward II’s death, as faithful readers of this blog know) in Edward II’s cell at Berkeley Castle. Disappointedly, according to this account, Felix said that his night was uneventful. Maybe if Felix had done some midnight roof thatching, Edward II might have joined him?

Other spirits associated with Edward II’s reign are reportedly less quiet. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s first favorite, is reported to haunt Scarborough Castle, where his headless spirit reputedly tries to shove visitors off the battlements. (This may simply be revenge for Braveheart.)

Not to be outdone, of course, is Queen Isabella, whose ghost is said to haunt Castle Rising. Some say Isabella shrieks and yells, others that her ghost assumes the form of a wolf. As a Google search will indicate, almost every other site claims that Isabella was shut up by Edward III in Castle Rising for life (which she wasn’t) and/or that she went mad (which she didn’t). It may be that with all of this shrieking, poor Isabella is simply trying to set the record straight once and for all.

Isabella, in fact, is quite the ghostly go-getter. Not only does she hang out at Castle Rising, she also can be found in London, at the site of her burial place at Greyfriars, where she clutches Edward II’s heart. One site claims that a hapless watchman quit his job after hearing her ghost quarreling with that of Alice Hungerford, who was executed in 1523 for killing her husband. Sadly, the site doesn’t indicate the subject of the ladies’ quarrel. (“No, I hated my husband more!” “Did not!”)

Less famously, perhaps, Roger Mortimer’s ghost is supposed to haunt Nottingham Castle. Reasonably enough, he lurks in the underground passage William de Montacute and his band used to enter the castle and seize him.

One would think that the Despensers would be good for some hauntings also, but their survivors must have commissioned enough prayers to keep their souls happy and quiet. (Though I confess that when I was at Tewkesbury several years ago, standing near Hugh the younger’s grave, some church volunteers dragging heavy objects around put something down with a loud noise. I jumped a good two inches.) The closest I found was this rather peculiar legend about Isobel Chandos, supposedly a lover of Hugh le Despenser who inadvertently led him to be hung at Hereford Castle. Perhaps a ghost that pushes deeds in front of people and tries to get them to sign land over to them just isn’t all that interesting?

7 thoughts on “Ghostly Goings-On in the Court of Edward II”

  1. Hm, perhaps that proof that Edward II wasn’t in his cell the day of his – alleged – death. After the shoals of smelly fish surrounding his death Alianore keeps discovering, he might have been anywhere but Berkley castle that night. *grin*

  2. I love to hear ghost stories! Just a little thing though, Richard Felix used to be the Historian for Most Haunted, but left a couple of years ago. It was one of my favourite shows!

  3. “I hated my husband more!” “Did not!”

    If Alianore is right, Edward’s ghost is happily ensconced in a deck chair somewhere in Italy drinking wine with a handsome Giovanni, and has much better things to do than wander around draughty English castles scaring TV presenters 🙂

    Maybe you have to have a certain critical amount of the body in one place to get a ghost, and poor Hugh’s scattered remains don’t achieve critical mass?

  4. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks for stopping by, all! Alison, thanks for the correction. Carla, I love your theory about Hugh!

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