Castell Coch: Guide to History, Hauntings and Horrors

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Castell Coch’s haunted walls are drenched in almost 1000 years of ghostly history and horrors, says RICK HALE

Castell Coch in Wales
Castell Coch in Wales

Among the many ghostly entities that haunt Britain, phantom white ladies appear to be the most commonly encountered.

The countless ancient castles and timeless manor homes that dot the English countryside harbour at least one of these nameless lost souls forced to wander our realm for all time.

Reportedly they continue their post-living existence due to vengeance, lost love or because they just might not know they have shuffled off their mortal coil.

Nestled atop a leafy hill in Fforest Fawr near Cardiff, Wales is Castell Coch, a 19th century Gothic Revival castle believed to be the domain of one of these mournful ghosts.

And like the other white ladies of British ghostlore, it is unimaginable grief that keeps her tied to this world.

All who visit Castell Coch can not help but fall in love with this wonderful example of red stone Gothic fantasy.

History of Castell Coch

“The red castle” as it is known is not the first castle to stand on this land.

The first known castle was built in 1081 by the Normans as a stronghold to protect Cardiff and the road leading to Taff Gorge.

Taff Gorge is a river that was the lifeblood of this region in south Wales 

For two centuries the original castle sat until 1267 when the Lord of Glamorgan, Gilbert de Clare ruthlessly seized the town of Senghenydd from the native Welsh ruler.

In an act of vindictiveness, de Clare razed the original castle to the ground and replaced it with a more fortified stone structure.

When de Clare died his son, Gilbert took over in130 7. His lordship lasted a mere 7 years when he was struck down in the battle of Bannockburn.

His death lit a powder keg of long deep seated resentment and touched off an uprising with the native Welsh.

In their violent frenzy the rebels laid siege to Castell Coch and destroyed it. The red castle was no more and was considered a complete loss.

The castle sat in ruins until 1760, when it fell into the hands of the Earls of Bute.

For whatever reason, the Earls failed to rebuild until 1871 when the Marquess of Bute commissioned William Burges to reconstruct the red castle.

Initially Burges attempted to make the case that they should conserve the ruins for posterity. Or perhaps turn it into a quant country estate for the Marquess and his family.

Marquess Bute wouldn’t settle for either and William Burges put his considerable talent to work and built the castle we see today.

When Marquess Bute died in 1901, his wife took up ownership but rarely ever visited it. When asked why she neglected her home, she matter of factly responded, the castle was haunted.

Today, Castell Coch is maintained by Cadw, a Welsh government service that sees to tourism, as well as preserving the culture of Wales and its people.

Perhaps due to its fairy tale feel, Castell Coch is a popular wedding venue. 

And several movies have been filmed at the Red Castle along with a number of episodes of the wildly popular science fiction TV show, Doctor Who. Even the immortal Timelord is drawn to this timeless castle.

Something else is said to have taken up residence behind the red limestone walls of Castell Coch.

Ghosts of Castell Coch

The ghostly figure of a woman in white has been seen wandering the halls and grounds even back when the castle sat in ruins.

The identity of this spectral entity may have been lost to time. Nevertheless, it’s believed she walks the castle due to an unimaginable tragedy that occurred there centuries ago.

According to legend, the white lady was a former resident who resided in the castle with her beloved little boy.

One day her son, who had a love for exploration, went missing. In a fit of panic, she desperately searched the castle and its surrounding grounds calling out his name.

When she couldn’t find him, the stark feeling of terror gripped her heart when she remembered a dark pool of water that sat on the property.

When she arrived at the pool, her eyes were met with a horrific sight.

Laying still at the bottom of the pool was the lifeless body of her boy.

In one moment of time, fate managed to destroy everything she loved.

The devastated mother never managed to get over the sorrow and she eventually died. Alone and brokenhearted.

Historians in the area regard this story as nothing more than myth and legend. A cautionary tale for parents to be ever mindful of their young ones.

While this may be true, it still remains that the apparition of the grief stricken woman has been witnessed floating about the castle sobbing as her hands cover her face.

It is also said that on still nights you can hear the faint voice of a young woman calling out, carried on the breeze.

The legend could be a fabrication, but the haunting of Castell Coch appears to be anything but.

Castell Coch is an integral part of Welsh history and culture. It is open to the public and should be treated with the utmost respect by all who visit.

And if you’re lucky you may just hear the voice of a long dead mother calling out to a son who is lost to her forever.

Have you seen a ghost at Castell Coch? Tell us in the comments below!

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Rick Hale
Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.


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