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Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire

Ghost of King Edward II of Berkeley Castle

Located in Gloucestershire England, Berkeley Castle was built in 1153 by William FitzOsbern after Henry II granted permission to construct a castle of stone.

Over the centuries, Berkeley Castle served an important role in English history with its Earls participating in many famous wars. The castle was damaged after being battered by Lord Oliver Cromwell.

For approximately 850 years, the castle has been inhabited by the Berkeley Family and resides as the oldest inhabited castle in England.

The castle is best known for the royal figure who was imprisoned and murdered there.

As Richard Jones tells the story ...

"Visitors to the castle can still see a deep dungeon in the old keep, into which were once thrown the rotting carcasses of animals, accompanied every so often, it is said, by the corpses of common people who had offended the powerful Lord Berkeley. The stench rising from this disease-ridden and malodorous pit must have been unbearable, but it also provided an exquisitely horrific way to punish those of noble birth who had incurred the wrath of the Berkeley family. A windowless cell can be seen close by. Here, unfortunate nobles would be locked away, with only the stinking air from the nearby dungeon to breathe. It provided a convenient method by which to dispose of those who could not be seen to have been murdered, since few people could survive long in the dreadful and fetid atmosphere.

It was this living hell that Edward II found himself confined in 1327, after he was deposed by his wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. It was their intention that a few days in the dreadful chamber would bring about the king’s death. But his constitution surprised them. He did become ill, but he recovered and managed to survive five months in the loathsome cell. Clearly a more direct approach was required, and so the queen instructed Edward’s jailers, Sir John Maltravers and Sir Thomas Gurney, to dispose of her husband as they saw fit. Edward II's cell at Berkeley Castle

And so on September 21, 1327, Edward II suffered the most horrible death of any British monarch. The two men seized Edward and pinned him face down to the bed, whereupon 'a kind of horn or funnel was thrust into his fundament through which a red-hot spit was run up his bowels'. Such was the king’s agony that his screams are said to have been heard far beyond the castle walls, and have echoed down the centuries on the anniversary of his death ever since."

Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland

This ghost story was taken from the book "Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland" by Richard Jones. We would like to thank Richard for graciously allowing us to use his text on Great Castles for some of the ghost stories presented on this site. You can find other stories by Mr. Jones on his web site, Haunted Britain.

About the Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland book: Region by region, ghost-seeker Richard Jones reveals, explains and delights in the tales of tortured phantoms eager to restage their dark and turbulent pasts. The cast of characters ranges from ghostly queens that hurl themselves from the ramparts to malevolent monks that wander the corridors. This authoritative and accessible guide to haunted sites is illustrated throughout and includes extracts from original documents.