Haunted Powderham Castle in Devon is home to sombre, aggrieved souls that are truly terrifying…
We tend to think of castles almost exclusively as fortified, defensive points for use in repelling attacks. While this is one of their best uses, most castles were in fact not quite as exciting as this. they were manor houses or administrative centres, places for regional governors to oversee the administration of their region.
Powderham Castle in Devon falls very much into this category; while it saw some military use later on in its life, for some three centuries it was primarily the seat of a powerful local family.
History of Powderham Castle
The castle was much changed in the 17th Century during the English Civil War, when castle fortifications were added and a military garrison was stationed.
Nonetheless, throughout the centuries, the Courtenay family held this as an ancestral home in what was then known as Exminster in Devon.
Despite its comparatively tame military history, the castle is not short of horrors. Many anguished spirits have been sighted within the castle grounds, some almost too gruesome to imagine.
Hauntings of Powderham Castle
Doubtless, the most famous case associated with Powderham Castle suggests that the castle is haunted by the ghost of a woman and her baby.
While the castle was being renovated in the 19th Century, workers found a hollow wall in the guard tower, one of the oldest standing sections of the castle.
When the wall was removed, a secret room was discovered containing the remains of a woman and a baby. The identity of the woman is unknown, and this was likely the effect her murderer wished. She was left to starve alone, in the dark, her baby dying beside her—it is no wonder their spirits wander the castle.
The Courtenays were, as you might guess from owning such a grand estate, quite wealthy and powerful. Marriage in such families was strictly controlled for the purposes of political alliances, which is our best explanation for the woman bricked away in the guard tower—she was someone’s shameful secret.
But it is not just the spirits of the mistresses who have not been able to leave the castle.
Another very common sighting at Powderham is the Grey Lady. Her solemn visage has been seen many times wandering the castle or strolling to the church, an icy breeze following behind her. It is believed that this is the spectre of Lady Frances, who was married to Viscount Courtenay in 1741. She died 20 years later, at the age of only 40.
Powderham Castle is not the home to great hordes of spectral armies or the disembodied cries of pained prisoners of war, but its sombre aspect and tragic history make its ghosts more than simply haunting.
Sometimes, it is hard for us to conceive the pain of such spirits, detached from their lives as we are. But we still have words to describe a mother’s tears, or the curtailed desire for long life.
Powderham Castle is not only a terrifying haunted spot, it embodies many of our deepest fears.
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