Chepstow Castle is a Welsh fortress that has been a stronghold of power, a prison for the condemned and a haunting ground for spirits that refuse to rest, writes CHRISTINE MILLER
The construction of Chepstow Castle began in 1067 following the orders of William FitzOsbern, the formidable Earl of Hereford. Over the centuries, this imposing fortress situated in Monmouthshire, Wales, underwent various expansions and fortifications, establishing itself as a vital bastion along the Welsh border.
Its formidable walls bore witness to sieges, wars, and the imprisonment of many unfortunate souls. Yet, beyond its rich historical tapestry, Chepstow Castle has gained notoriety for another aspect of its legacy…
For over a century, visitors have been spooked and enthralled by the supernatural events that unfold within the castle’s walls.
Everything from disembodied voices to spectral figures wandering the grounds have been witnessed. While some may dismiss these encounters as mere products of the imagination, the sheer volume of chilling stories from both staff and tourists suggests otherwise.
The Ghost of Henry Marten
Among the numerous ghostly figures that roam the castle’s ruins, the ghost of Henry Marten stands out as the most famous. Marten was no ordinary man; he was an English lawyer and politician deeply involved in the tumultuous political landscape of the 17th century.
As a staunch Roundhead, Marten played a significant role in the trial and execution of King Charles I, affixing his signature to the king’s death warrant in 1649.
However, the pendulum of history swung back with the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II in 1660. Marten’s fortunes would take a dire turn when he was captured and incarcerated at Chepstow Castle to await his own trial.
In 1662, at the age of 59, he managed to escape the gruesome fate of being hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. Instead, he was to face the rest of his life in imprisonment at several locations across the country. He would see out his final 12 years on earth at Chepstow Castle, where one evening he choked to death whilst eating his supper.
Legend has it that Marten’s spirit still haunts the castle’s hallowed halls, with reports of ghostly encounters dating back over 100 years.
Tales of slamming doors, echoing footsteps along the cold stone floors, and mysterious shadowy figures lurking in Marten’s former prison cell abound. Some even claim to have glimpsed Marten’s spectral visage peering out from the castle’s windows and wandering the castle grounds.
Castle staff often speak of feeling an eerie presence in areas closely associated with Marten. Lights flicker, temperatures plummet, and objects move as if guided by an invisible hand in these haunted areas.
Could it be that Marten’s restless spirit remains trapped at the site of his downfall, more than 350 years after his execution?
Other Paranormal Activity at Chepstow Castle
Apart from Henry Marten’s ghost, both the castle’s staff and visitors have experienced a plethora of unexplained paranormal phenomena over the years. These eerie happenings have been documented across the expansive castle grounds and within the crumbling ruins themselves.
In the castle’s Great Hall, visitors frequently report sudden drops in temperature, accompanied by cold spots that defy explanation. Disembodied voices of unknown men and women have also been heard, as have phantom footsteps in seemingly empty chambers. And, on occasion, the sounds of feasting and revelry echo through the hall, evoking the castle’s vibrant medieval past.
The castle’s subterranean cellars, with their dark and foreboding atmosphere, have witnessed objects moving inexplicably, baffling staff.
Among the overgrown castle grounds, shadowy figures have been spotted moving among the ancient trees, vanishing as they turn corners. Could these spectral sentinels be the restless spirits of medieval soldiers, forever guarding their post?
Apparitions have also been spotted in the ground, fitted out in garb consistent with the castle’s historical period. Eerily, they are said to glide silently, rather than walk.
Have you visited Chepstow Castle and have a spooky story to tell? Let us know in the comments section below.