In Chillingham church we have the finest tomb “outside a cathedral”. In the Chillingham church there is the gloriously serene, alabaster carved figures of Sir Ralph and Lady Grey, dated to 1440. Sir Ralph and his lady lie there so calmly, their adored animals at their feet. Yet in life Sir Ralph Grey was a conqueror. With just eighty-one men at arms, he captured Roxburgh Castle near Kelso. He then held it against the entire Scottish army, led by the furious Scots King. Grey held Roxburgh Castle for eight long days, till the English relief arrived. Sir Ralph had a fondness for the COACHING ROOMS (not open yet) and he wanders them still! Along with his father and his son, both heroes and conquerors too, and both executed for fighting for the wrong King. This is what happened.
In the 13-1400s the family was torn by The Wars of the Roses, which divided the country savagely (like overseas today) between the King Edward 1V’s Yorkists and the winning Henry 1V’s Lancastrians’.
The father of Sir Ralph Grey of the above beautiful tomb, was an equally gallant fighting man. He was finally trapped and terrifyingly hanged, drawn and quartered, for commanding the Yorkist cause of Edward 1V. Sir Ralph, also had his only son condemned to death, and we have all the documentation for the trial. Grey was condemned to be hanged drawn and quartered for holding Bamburgh Castle for the rival Lancastrian cause! Luckily for him, granddad had been executed for the King Edward 1V’s Yorkists, so he had his sentence commuted to merely having his head cut off. So, there are bound to be colourful ghosts aplenty, but the three Sir Ralph Greys like the COACHING ROOMS and they are not opened to the public as yet.
There was another famous Grey execution. One of the family actually signed the death warrant for Charles 1st. (Luckily for opinion today, his brother famously gave his life fighting for the King!). The signature, GREY, on the Royal death warrant is there to this day, clear and strong, third on a list of seventy. Then, when King Charles 11 arrived, all those signatories fled the country. All except Grey, who stood trial and was condemned. His headless body lies in a mass grave at Westminster, but because he bravely stood trial, his son kept the loved Chillingham Estates. His ghost walks these rooms too and I am sure he loved them well.
All those brave people and all their colourful families roamed these rooms in life. They loved them and wander them still. Along with their friends, their ladies and the heroes of their battles, they are constantly re-living their joys, conquests and triumphs.
The Blue Boy is well recorded as a phantom at Chillingham, but not so much known to the history books. He would cry out at midnight in agony, or was it in fear? The sounds came from a ten foot thick tower wall in the Pink Room. A soft halo of light would appear and an old four poster bed. A young boy, dressed in blue, would be standing, almost shimmering, beside it. In the 1920s, the bones of a young boy and fragments of blue clothing were actually discovered buried in those great thick walls. Workmen were cutting through to make a passage to the Tower rooms beyond.
The bones were duly buried in the Church, and the wailing ceased. But a blue halo or shaft of light is often seen in the small hours of the morning, flashing. Maybe some small bone is left behind in the wall as there is certainly no electricity in the stonework to explain it. People write down their experiences and always the descriptions agree. The “flashing” is also seen from the courtyard and usually dismissed as an electrical fault or Christmas light.
Another ghost, Lady Mary Berkeley from the great Berkeley Castle, searches for her errant husband. He was an able, fighting and brilliant Earl. Yet another war leader, he escaped no less than three death sentences to die in his bed at an old age. He became First Lord of the Treasury, or prime minister to King William 111. In his youth Lord Grey had lead the Duke of Monmouth’s failed rebellion to displace James 11. The beheaded Duke of Monmouth had once taken Lady Mary as his lover, so Lord Grey, coolly. ran off with his sister-in-law to remedy his loss. In later years Lady Mary, desolate and broken hearted, lived in the Castle by herself with her baby girl as her only companion. The rustle of her dress can often be heard as she passes in the South West turret stairs. She famously ‘lived’ in a painting, and would often come out from it, and the children would wait for her. Those children loved her and came to count on her smile and friendship.
There are so many more people here from past lives, loving the place and not wanting to move on. So, come and visit if you dare and discover for yourself, but keep mousy quiet if you want to see anything interesting.