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Pevensey Castle, East Sussex

Ghost of Lady Pelham of Pevensey Castle

A structure has existed on the current site of Pevensey Castle for over 1,700 years. Initially, a Roman fort was built during the third century. In 1066, William the Conqueror landed at Pevensey and ordered construction of a prefabricated wooden castle within the ruined stone walls of the old Roman fort. Thereafter, he moved to Hastings and erected another wooden castle before departing to ultimately acquire the English crown from Harold II at the Battle of Hastings.

Stone replaced wood sometime in 1246, which resulted in a less vulnerable structure. Pevensey Castle withstood many sieges, the most notable occurred in 1399 when it was besieged by an army in support of Richard II. During the prolonged siege, the constable of the castle, Sir John Pelham, was away fighting alongside Henry Bolingbroke. As a result, defense of the castle was left to his wife, Lady Joan Pelham. She wrote to her husband regarding the siege and begged for his return. He returned to end the siege and rescue both his wife and Pevensey Castle.

The ghost of Lady Pelham is said to still haunt the castle. One evening she appeared to four local boys wandering about the castle grounds. The startled the boys reported the incident to the castle custodian who was so impressed with the details of their account that he made an official entry in the castle records. Again in September 1984, she appeared to a group of twelve young visitors as she appeared in medieval clothing at the bottom of Castle Hill. The visitors were even more amazed when she vanished as they approached her.

As Richard Jones tells the story ...

"The anguish of the siege lingers at Pevensey Castle still, and many people have seen the misty form of a pale lady gazing anxiously from the upper walls. It is believed, though not proven, that the forlorn phantom is that of Lady Joan Pelham, whose spirit has been trapped by the trauma of those angst-filled days, when she would scan the horizon seeking a distant speck that might signal her husband’s approach and the end of her ordeal."

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.