I have visited Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire on a few occasions twice for an overnight Ghost Hunt and once during the day for a 'Body and soul' psychic fair, where I spent an awful lot of money. It has been a little while since I have visited here, but I found the review I wrote on it a few years back in a bag in my cupboard and thought I had better type it up and think about posting it. I run a small development circle and we have all been talking about going on a ghost hunt, so it bought Tutbury Castle back to the forefront of my mind, so what a better time to write about it and finally get around to sharing the information with you all.
~~ A Little History~~
Tutbury Castle was built in 1061 a few years before the Norman Conquest of 1066, it is a spectacular castle with a large deep moat, that sits on top of the hill looking over the town. It enjoyed most of its royal splendours during the reins of Henry IV and Henry VI with most of its surviving architecture coming from this period. It has also been visited by Henry VIII during 1511.
It was also used as a prison to hold Mary Queen of Scots; she arrived on 4th Feb 1569 and found the place cold, draughty and unwelcoming; over the next 16 years she was moved in and out of the castle until her final visit from Jan 1585 until she left on 24th December of the same year, she was later beheaded on 8th Feb 1587 just two years later. The tower where Mary was held prisoner is one of the features that still stands today.
Tutbury Castle still has some habitable rooms which are closed off to the public (from what I remember from previous visits), but the majority of it today are in ruins, but I do have to say it is one of the nicest and well preserved ruins I have seen in a while. It is also noted to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain, it hosts numerous ghosts including Mary Queen of Scots who has been seen roaming around by many a visitor. The castle and its ghosts have appeared on a couple of TV programmes included the very popular Most Haunted.
~~Events Held at the Castle~~
Feel free to take a look at their website www.tutburycastle.com as they do hold various events throughout the year and the dates are on there for your perusal, here are a few of the events that they hold:-
Spirit of Destiny - This is very much like the Body and Soul one I visited a few years back, it is where you can visit the castle and also get the chance to look around the stalls, or pop and see a medium, palm reader, reiki healer, clairvoyant or some other specialist, there will also be demonstrations which you can sit and enjoy. Like I said earlier when I last went to one of these events I did spend a lot of money, but it was worth it as my daughter and I had a lovely day.
Master Dan and Mistress Eleanor - I haven't visited this event, but the site tells me that it is medieval stories and music.
Guided Tours - this is exactly what it says it is, a guided tour that gives you some facts and stories about the castle.
Ravencrest - this is medieval sword fighting, armour is worn; crystals books, pendulums and jewellery can be found on sale in stalls around the grounds so don't forget your purse.
Silver Fletching - another medieval event where you can see demonstrations of food preparation, archery and leather work. Learn more of the history and enjoy tasting some of the food as hot and cold food is available you tempt you.
A Traditional English Fate - this one sounds like fun with English Folk Dancing, music and stalls to spend your money on. Side shows, coconut shy's and lots of fun and activities for all the family to enjoy.
Tutbury Band - brass band music playing on an autumn night
Fireworks Spectacular - this sounds brilliant, not only a fantastic firework display, but you get to meet Guy Fawkes and the Kings men in costume as you watch them rein act the battle beneath 'the houses of parliament'.
Ghost Hunting - they also hold various haunted visits and overnight stays, some of the events are organized and you just buy your ticket and attend, others are where you can get a group of 20 people and hire it for your own haunted overnight stay.
The castle and grounds are also available for weddings and events if you want to get in touch with the organizers.
~~My Experience of the Overnight Ghost Hunts~~
As I said earlier I have been on two of these, the first one I attended with about 20 other mediums; we arrived at Tutbury Castle at around 2200hrs on a Friday evening, I did not know what to expect, but as we were mediums our tour guide said he would give us limited information and then in the morning he would discuss our findings with us. We were greeted on our arrival and taken into the cafe area and the evening events were explained to us.
We would be given a tour and shown all the places we can go into and see, then we would be left to explore the castle and grounds on our own, we were advised that most of the activity occurs before 0200hrs and we could sleep on the floor (or on our own camping chairs which you need to bring with you) in the 'Kings Room' upstairs. I would like to say that the Kings Room is renowned for a lot of spirit activity. Breakfast would be at 0700hrs followed by discussion and departure (I believe breakfast is now around 0400hrs).
As we are in the cafe area we are told about the history of the room, but at this stage no ghost story this he will be saving for the morning. We were then taken up a steep staircase to the Kings Room where we are told a brief history and a few spooky stories of previous experiences and information about 'The Drummer Boy' ghost (this was the one ghost we knew about prior to our visit off the internet).
Now apart from the toilets on this floor this and one other room are the only rooms you have access to on this floor; downstairs you only have access to the cafe area and a small kitchen where you can make tea/coffee throughout the night, any snacks, cold drinks you need to bring with you.
We were taken back through the main front door to look around the ruins and one small torture chamber. Our guides take us around and point to the area where the 'Grey Lady' has been seen. We were told that many bodies are buried under our feet and we were taken to the dungeon which you have to walk down a worn staircase and go through a thick oak door. We were advised to bring our own torches with us, which was a good idea as apart from your torches and the moon there is no light there and it does get very dark and spooky. Our guide told us that this room was haunted by a malevolent ghost that hated men. He told us how this ghost had physically pushed him across the room when he visited here once on his own and he strongly advised us not to come down here on our own, but to come in groups of 3 of more. His stories were fascinating and did help to create the scary atmosphere; he also mentioned that he believed there was a hidden staircase and he challenged the group of mediums and psychics to find it, again he would let us know in the morning.
Back outside he pointed out the old chapel and set us the challenge of picking up the story that goes with the chapel, he showed us the rest of the grounds and then lead us back to the cafe, where he left us to our own devices telling us how we could contact him if we had any questions or needed any further help. As it happens he stayed in the cafe all night talking to anyone that would listen or who just wanted to talk. He was exceedingly knowledgeable on his history.
We split up into small groups and took our own tour of the place; there were four of us in my little group from the circle that I was in at the time. We were encouraged to 'tune in' (this is what they say when you want to pick up spirit activity) and see if we could pick up any information or maybe a 'spirit link'. We told each other what we picked up and felt the atmosphere, we took lots of pictures with our digital cameras in the hope of picking up orbs etc.
I found the whole experience fascinating, exciting and frustrating as I would have to wait until the morning to know if what I had picked up on was true or not, and when you are a novice you really do want those answers NOW, lol. Our first visit was in the February so it was a cold night so after our tour we sat in the cafe to drink hot tea/coffee. We were all sitting quietly when we heard a piercing scream from upstairs we dashed up the stairs to find that someone had played a trick on one of the group waking her rattling some keys. Well that woke people back up and livened the night up again, the majority of the groups starting going to sleep around 0230hrs. Myself used to doing night shifts stayed up and at around 0530hrs most of the people there were starting to wake up and it is not very comfy trying to sleep in chairs and on a hard floor.
As we were all up very early our guide asked if we wanted an early breakfast and discuss our findings, we all jumped at the chance as it was an hour journey home. I was so excited about what we had got right that when I woke up in the afternoon I was already arranging a return visit, for the summer. On this next visit I took a group of 6 around with me including my sister, my niece and my daughter. Our guides on this occasion dressed in authentic costume adding to the excitement of our visit. Everything else ran the same as the first visit but this time I took my group round and encouraged them to tell me what they sensed and felt. To me the second visit was even better than the first maybe that was because I knew what to expect and I was helping others develop and seek out what we had found out. (This was an early indication I think as I now teach in a development circle helping people with their spiritual skills).
Finally our visit to the 'Body and Soul' psychic fair (which I believe is now called Spirit of Destiny), we spent loads of money having readings. Aura graphs etc most cost between £20 - £30 each, Also on our visit Derek Acorah and his team were doing a guest appearance, there was also staff members on site in period costume doing enactments to keep you entertained, it really was an entertaining and a great day out.
Costs vary depending on what attraction that you go to visit, the ghost hunts can get rather expensive, but are definitely worth it.
On a normal day it costs £4.50 for adults, OAP and children between 5 and 12yrs £4.00, under 5's are free, Family ticket (2 and 2) is £14.00
There is a charge for parking £1.00 for cars and 50p for bikes.
This is not really disabled friendly as with most ruins you are very limited to what you can see and do.
~~How to Get there~~
It is just off the A51 between Burton on Trent and Derby.
= = = WHAT WAS SARAH_LOUISE DOING AT TUTBURY? = = = As some of you already know, Sarah_Louise is a huge fan of the paranormal. Having started a paranormal research society just before Christmas 2002 I’ve now got over 50 members who regularly attend overnight investigations into haunted locations around the country with me. Sometime in early April I heard about a charity ghost hunt. It was due to be the worlds biggest ghost hunt and was to take place at Tutbury Castle. On April 22nd I saw an episode of Most Haunted, this particular episode came from Tutbury Castle. It was one of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen. Watching Phil Wyman and Yvette Fielding freak out at tapping noises on the window in the Great Hall made for great viewing. I then took great delight in taking the p*ss out of Phil after the show. You see normally he claims himself to be someone who “sits on the fence” when it comes to believing in the paranormal. He’s normally quite calm in ‘scary’ situations like that and normally is left to calm Yvette down. That is all but at Tutbury Castle. The speed those two ran out of the room when the tapping noises started, I tell you, it looked to be 0 to 60 in 0.5 second! I thought it looked good there and so I was looking forward to spending the night there myself. It was out of the blue, on April 23rd, when I received an email. The email was from a guy called Martin Jeffrey. I recognised his name but couldn’t quite fathom out who he was. So I proceeded to open the email. I then remembered. He runs the Fright Nights company. It was indeed off him. He’d heard I was a good paranormal investigator and was enquiring as to whether I’d like to do some filming for an event due to be taking part on April 30th. Never one for turning a filming opportunity down I eagerly replied with a resounding “yes!” It just so happened that I
was scheduled to be attending the Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt on that very date at Tutbury Castle. I was put in touch with the producer of the programme (who also is the producer of the Most Haunted Live programmes on Living TV). It all came together nicely (barring the bit when we broke down..... more on this later!) Myself and two of my members were to be filmed for the night. We filmed a video diary of the night along with being filmed by the proper film crew. The night was a great success for everyone involved. They beat the world record with over 750 visitors and nearly 200 people reported experiencing something paranormal. After midnight people started to leave, people were chucked out of the grounds at about 12:30am. Some people chose to camp the night just outside the castle grounds while others left completely. The night improved dramatically after the members of the public had left. We were filmed just before being locked in the Undercroft. We were then left in there for an hour with the video camera. An hour later we were collected again and taken into the Great Hall and Kings Bedchamber. This was the bit I’d been looking forward too. Would we have a repeat performance of Most Haunted? I was hoping so! I was slightly worried though because I knew if we freaked out it’d be shown on the TV (it makes for interesting viewing doesn’t it?) I also knew that Phil Wyman would be watching. If I went and freaked out running around saying the f word like he had done while filming that particular episode of Most Haunted then it would only be fair if he’d taken the p*ss out of my too! I was hoping for some paranormal activity but I was also hoping that it didn’t scare me too much! I won’t tell you what happened – for that you’ll have to watch the programme yourself. It’s going to be an hour and a half in length and is due to be shown on Living TV on July
1st. I don’t know what time yet. I’ll update this when I do know. So, that’s enough about me, what about the castle? = = = HISTORY = = = Originally built in the 1070’s for one of William the Conqueror’s Barons, it has known, and been involved in some of the most dramatic events in almost 1,000 years of English history. A bloody place of siege and battle as well as a mighty prison holding Mary, Queen of Scots on three occasions. The Castle has been visited by some of the greatest names in English history, including Henry IV, King John, Richard II and James I. Tutbury also offered shelter to Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert during the Civil War for which it paid heavily because after the war ended Oliver Cromwell ordered an Act of Parliament to 4 be passed to dismantle the Castle that had harboured the king. Some of the ruins were repaired after the restoration in 1662 leaving the Castle as you see today. With such a history it may come of no surprise to some of you that the castle has its fair share of ghosts…. = = = THE PARANORMAL = = = As you’ll already know, the castle has its fair share of ghosts, the most famous ones include: A phantom drummer boy - near the North tower a soft drumming sound can be heard, possibly coming from the ghostly drummer boy. If you hear the drumming it is said to be a good omen. Unfortunately it did not bring good fortune for the drummer boy - he was killed by an arrow to the head while drumming the warning that the castle was under attack. Another ghost of a child has been seen on occasions running past visitors of guests to the castle and on odd occasions touching them. Annually, in the King's Bedchamber there are accounts of people reporting that they have seen orbs of light, strange spark effects and also someone holding their hand in this room. Recently during a tour one g
entleman told the guide that he had really enjoyed a ghost walk and what made it special was the little boy in costume sitting at the top of the stairs. This was news to the castle's management team - there are no little boys in costume on the tour! Another ghost at Tutbury Castle is that of a little old woman. Many visitors have seen her outside the Great Hall and floating outside the Hall's window. She has also been seen in other the areas of the castle including the top of the cellar where she has removed keys and moved furniture around. If you’d like to go on a ghost hunt/supper yourself you can contact Fright Nights on: 0114 2513232 or email: email@example.com Tell them Sarah from North Wales Occult Research sent you - you never know, you might get a discount (its worth a try innit)! :o) I’m hoping to conduct my own investigation here myself soon. You’d be more than welcome to join us if you’re feeling brave enough! = = = WHY VISIT TUTBURY CASTLE? = = = The castle caters for people other than paranormal investigators, in fact they host a wide variety of events. Forthcoming events include: 18th May - Sunday: ROBIN HOOD DAY Archery Demonstrations and the Mummers will perform the famous George and Dragon play which toured England throughout the Middle Ages. Robin Hood & his Merry Men will be there! 21st May to 24th May: TUDOR WEEK A week to celebrate the lives of the Tudors. Events on each day - call for details on the days you plan to visit. Sunday 25th, Monday 26th - Bank Holiday: THE WILD CLAYMORE CLAN The Clan will be storming the Castle walls. Wild Gaelic speaking Highlanders are so exciting to watch and there are battle scenes and musket firing at this event. Others include: 19.06 - Ascot Ladies Day 25.06 - Tudor Cookery 28.06 - Victoria's 80th Regiment
06.07 - Mediaevel Day 12.10 - Wedding Fayre 31.10 - Halloween Ball 01.11 - Viking Spectacular and Fireworks Tutbury Castle features include: · 3,000 years fortified site. · 35 acres perched high for spectacular views. · Some of the greatest names in English history stayed or lived here. · Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned here. · Award winning standard food · Pretty, airy tea-room. Specialising in Cornish cream teas and light lunches. · Children’s costumes available. · Picnic site. · Children’s playground. They also provide the following for groups: · Weddings and Special Occasions · School and University Groups · Special Interest Groups and Clubs · Corporate Events and Training Days · Ghost Hunts and Suppers · Murder Mystery Evenings and Jack the Ripper NIghts = = = OPENING HOURS = = = Open Wednesdays to Sundays 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Open Sundays and Bank Holidays Open Easter Sunday to mid-September. = = = PRICES = = = I'm not sure how much it is to enter the castle on a normal basis. I can't find it on the website. For the Worlds Biggest Ghost Hunt you had to pay £3.30 or £5.50 if you chose to camp there for the night. = = = FACILITIES = = = ~ The Queen's Garden Tea Room ~ Open for light lunches and old-fashioned teas, visitors can also, on occasion, enjoy the tastes and smells of Tudor recipes. ~ Gift Shop ~ A majority of the gifts and cards you see in the gift shop are unique to the Castle being specially commissioned in 2000. A funny incident occurred in the shop involving Derek Acorah, the spiritualist medium, while they were filming Most Haunted, typical Derek moment I tell you! ~ The Secret Staircase ~ Early in the year 2000, during the restoration project, the Castle gave up o
ne of its many secrets by revealing a secret staircase behind a cupboard. With the last few treads re-built visitors can now go up this extraordinary stairway right through the floor and in to the Great Hall. ~ The Great Hall ~ Charles I spent much time in this room, some of it with his nephew Prince Rupert at the start of the Civil War. The fireplace is reputed to have been built specially for King Charles on his instruction. After the ravages of Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II, the King visited this room and no doubt considered how it had offered shelter to his martyred father. In this room you are able to walk about and know you are seeing how a room of that period looked and felt. Maybe you'll experience something paranormal? ~ Healing Herbery ~ A herbery such as you see at Tutbury would have been an essential part of life within the castle walls. It is likely a herbery would have existed within the first few years of the castle being built, providing flavouring for foods and medicines as well as perfumes and cosmetics. The range of herbs grown was surprisingly varied with influences from far shores brought to England by Crusaders and trade ships. Although England had fallen in to the Dark Ages after the Romans left, not all they had taught us was forgotten and the skills of the herbalist continue today. = = = HOW DO I GET THERE? = = = ~ Directions ~ By Road: Tutbury Castle is situated conveniently near the A50 road, accessed from Junction 24a on the M1 Motorway or Junction 15 on the M6. (NB. Don’t rely on the AA in this neck of the woods – we broke down on the M1 (or the M6, I’m not sure, it was a motorway though I know that much!). We were due to be meeting Ross, the producer, to run through the filming schedule and such like at 3pm however we broke down at 2:30pm and didn’t get to the castle until 6:00pm! Ah well, thank God for mobile phones,
poor Ross was having mini-panic attacks as to where we were! By Public Transport: You can get a train from nearby Hatton and Bus service from Burton-upon-Trent. The car park takes up to 300 cars and coach parking is available. = = = SPECIAL NEEDS = = = Being an 11th Century Castle there are very obvious difficulties in terms of access to some areas, they do try to provide visitors who are disabled with the best possible visit. The path can take a wheelchair on the flat from the top car park right to the main body of the building where there is a ramp and then double doors into the tea-room. The tea-room has the gift shop within it. Both wheelchair and frame users will find the tea-room accessible. The main compound of the Castle is grassy and flat (bumpy in parts) so in dry weather the whole compound, ruins and box gardens are accessible. The Herbery is a sensory garden and entrances are made so a wheelchair or frame can get right into the herbery. The same applies to the boxed flower gardens. The Great Hall of the Castle is not accessible as stairs are the only access, but they have a policy that a guide will go down to the tea-room or terrace with artefacts and spend time with a disabled person, answering questions and explaining elements of the Castle that may be of interest. Toilets with bars can be found in the main car park. Guide dogs are welcomed and water is provided. = = = GROUP VISITS = = = You can book for group visits (e.g. school trips) and attend lectures on: · The Curator, Lesley Smith talks about the Tudors · Various Speakers talking about the Vikings · Various Speakers talking about the Late Medievals · Dr. Gareth Williams British/English currency British Museum · Lesley Smith talking about sex and contraception in the 1580s Curator (suitable for 16+) (I wonder how many people attend this lecture?!)
And many more topics. = = = MORE INFORMATION = = = www.tutburycastle.com www.worldsbiggestghosthunt.com http://www.frightnights.co.uk/pages/tutbury.htm http://www.marie-stuart.co.uk/Castles/Tutbury.htm http://www.derbyphotos.co.uk/ghostwalks/ and last, but by no means least, you can read what happened to us at Tutbury Castle and see a photograph we took of some orbs in the Great Hall here: www.occultresearch.chaosmagic.com (Click on "NWOR Investigations" and follow the link to our "Paranoramal Investigations") Although if you don't want the surprise ruining don't read it until after you've seen the programme! :o) Although there are bits that happened that I've not mentioned in the report. Plus of course we caught at least one orb on video camera so you'll just have to watch the programme to see that!