FACE paint and pumpkins aside, Halloween – or ‘All Hallows’ Evening – traditionally marks a time of year dedicated to remembering the dead. It has also been recognised as a time when spirits find it easier to come into this world and are therefore particularly active.
This theory will be tested during a special Halloween Ghost Search taking place at Tamworth Castle on Thursday (October 31).
The serious paranormal investigation will be led by mediums from Tamworth Spiritualist Church who will be using various gadgets and equipment to pick up on any other-worldly activity.
And with such a long and rich history, marked by numerous tales of ghostly sightings and apparitions, the castle is unlikely to disappoint.
President of Tamworth Spiritualist Church, Karen Line-Jones, will be conducting this week's investigation.
“Tamworth Castle is a wonderful venue with lots of history. It has had a lot of activity associated with it; some good, some negative.
“All of the energy that has been created through the various events and the many people who have lived and died there has been left intertwined in the building’s very fabric.
“Many times over the years I have conducted these investigations and experienced some wonderful things, as well as encountering the sadness that some of the entities have experienced.
“With the use of various equipment we have established that spirits do indeed walk within the walls of the castle.”
Tamworth Castle is known throughout the country for its paranormal activity and has been featured on the Most Haunted series. Stories from staff members, photographs of supposed apparitions and video footage have all given much credence to the legends of the ‘White Lady’ and the ‘Black Lady’, who are both widely thought to haunt the Norman building.
The Black Lady is allegedly the ghost of the nun, St Editha, who founded her order in the 9th century. Her nuns are said to have been expelled from their convent at Polesworth by the baron Robert de Marmion when he took possession of the castle and its lands. The angry prayers of the nuns are thought to have called Editha from her grave. In a tale re-enacted to this day as part of the Castle exhibits, Marmion apparently saw a vision of St Editha in 1139, when she smote him with the point of her crosier and told him to restore the nuns to the abbey.
The vision of the Black Lady has reportedly been seen many times since in the ‘haunted bedroom’ and nearby staircase.
The White Lady was apparently captured and locked in the castle’s tower by the wicked Sir Tarquin, whom she later fell in love with. She can allegedly be seen walking the battlements, weeping over her lover who was slain in the meadows below the castle by Sir Lancelot du Lac who came to Tamworth to rescue her.
These ghosts, as well as any spirits which haunt the castle, will be the focus of the Halloween Ghost Search, although Karen points out a key difference between the two.
“We do have to differentiate between the types of activity that can take place,” she said.
“When we are talking about a ‘ghost’, we are in fact talking about a residual energy that can be tapped into at the right time. This is an energy that has been created by a specific traumatic event, and the energy that has been released by this happening does not dissipate, it remains forever in the fabric.
“It is like a film that we are watching on a DVD, we can keep looking at the various scenes again and again.
“A ghost does not attempt communication or interaction with anybody. It is not a tangible being, just a recall of the traumatic event and feelings associated with it, just like the scenes recorded on a DVD.
“There are many of these ‘ghosts’ at Tamworth Castle and emotions run high in certain areas of the castle, with people picking up sadness, tears, devastation, anger and the images of the people who were concerned.
“We also have spirit people who will attempt to make communication with us and let us know that they are there; they intentionally try and interact with us by the use of noise, moving things and temperature changes and these types of events are frequently experienced during the searches.”
Karen says Tamworth Castle has a good mixture of both spirits and ghosts – and she is certainly qualified to seek them out. She has been sensitive to the spirit world from a very young age, and like most mediums just didn’t know how to harness that ability at first.
She has been involved with Tamworth Spiritualist Church for more than 30 years and its president for five. She is also the paranormal officer for the West Midlands and is called to investigate any occurrences reported to spiritual churches across the region.
“There is a lot of activity in Tamworth, as well as the rest of the region,” Karen said. “Sometimes it’s just people who have been watching too many horror films, or they may have a deceased relative trying to contact them.
“Sometimes it’s related to something that has happened in their house, but it’s very rare that a spirit is there to cause distress. It’s generally just a matter of calming the energies.”
And while there are often occurrences during the ghost searches at Tamworth Castle, one thing Karen can promise is a realistic and genuine experience.
“One thing we will not and do not do is manufacture events and happenings. All that is perceived and done is with integrity and honesty. If something happens, it happens and if not then so be it. There is no play acting.”
Tonight’s event will include a ghost walk around the castle followed by vigils led by mediums conducted in reputedly haunted rooms.
From the Herald archive: Other spooky local tales
2007: GHOSTLY goings on at Tamworth’s Moat House scared a town carpet fitter into abandoning his job there.
Roy Sandbrook was taking a break from working in the manager’s rooms at the historic Lichfield Street building when he decided to explore – but got more than he bargained for.
“It’s a fantastic place and I wanted a look around,” said Roy, aged 39.
“I went up to the top floor and there is a tiny staircase into the top tower.
“There I heard loud shuffling like something was being moved in the room above, but there was absolutely no one there.
“I ran down the stairs like I never had before.
“It really shook me up and when I went to the bar everyone laughed at me.”
The Moat House is a Grade II listed building.
It was built in 1572 by William Comberford as a family home and the future King Charles I stayed there in August 1619 when his father, James I, stayed at the Castle.
In 1815 the Moat House became a lunatic asylum and it is rumoured that walking the second floor corridors is the ghost of a young girl named Emily.
It is believed she died in a fire that was caused by a candle as she was locked in the tower by her father.
“I should have finished the job but had to stop and return the next day – it put me off my stride,” added Roy.
“The landlord asked if I knew that the place was haunted.
He said he hears all sorts through the night”.
Tamworth Herald, Thursday April 26, 2007
2010: The latest ghostly apparition in a town centre hostelry happened at the RAFA Flarepath Club where Roy Clay, husband of club stewardess Kathy, recently had a startling meeting in the middle of the night.
He said: “I had got u p to go to the loo in the middle of the night. I was naked and half asleep and as I walked along the corridor I saw a woman in a long grey dress. She looked about 30 and had her hair in a bun.
“I could smell perfume. She turned round and looked at me and walked straight through a wall into the haunted bedroom.”
The bedroom is the same one in which Roy’s brother-in-law saw a woman in a white nightie who tried to steal his duvet as he lay in bed in 2007.
Other ghostly goings-on include a woman who is said to haunt the kitchen area worrying that her two children are not being fed – strangely, the smell of custard often pervades various rooms in the Lichfield Street building.
Tamworth Herald, Thursday October 28, 2010
2011:PHANTOM footsteps and a spooky sigh sent shivers down the spine of a Tamworth Castle guide when she arrived for work on Friday morning.
As Rachel Wanklyn put her key in the ancient door of the castle, she had assumed that another member of staff was already inside – and was shocked to find the castle completely empty.
She told the Herald: “I had just reached the door and I heard footsteps, the footsteps of a woman in heels. Then there was a long sigh. I said: ‘hello, hello!’ as I unlocked the door, expecting to find another member of staff there, but the castle was empty.
“My colleagues have all had ghostly experiences in the castle, but I’ve worked here for seven years and I’ve never seen anything and I’ve always been a bit sceptical.
“You do hear bumps and creaks which you expect in an old building, but this was the stone part of the building, so you don’t expect to hear anything.
“It was definitely a woman, it was the clip clop of heels and the sigh of a woman. I’m not sure I’d believe in a ghost unless I saw it standing in front of me, but there is no explanation for what I heard,” she added.
Tamworth Herald, Thursday July 21, 2011