Photography by Charlie Waring and Mark Phillips
Written by Barb Hogan and helped with research by Mark Phillips
We’ve been telling each other ghost stories since our ancestors first sat around campfires. Generally ghosts are thought to be spirits of the dead, destined to linger on Earth after their mortal life has ended.
Some ghosts in the tales told are terrifying or mischievous, some make their presence felt with noises – some make no sound at all. Whatever sort of ghost you encounter, there is a certain time of the year when they can all get busy…
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as we know it today, is believed to have its roots in Celtic harvest festivals, in particular Samhain. The Halloween that children and big kids enjoy today is influenced by American traditions from the late 20th and early 21st century, which had been exported across the Atlantic by Irish and Scottish immigrants.
Halloween is the time to unleash your inner ghost, goblin, or ghoul, don a spooky costume, and enjoy fiendish family fun in Arundel – on a ghost hunt. Arundel has plenty of ghost stories to keep you entertained. Do you dare to read on and find out where you can find Arundel’s spectres?
Arundel Castle has stood for a long time, about 1,000 years, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to several spirits.
There are reports of the distant rumble of canons aimed at the walls by noisy ghosts. The ghost of a little boy, thought to have worked in the kitchens about 200 years ago and tragically beaten to death by his master, scurries around the kitchen. He has been heard many times, scrubbing pots and pans.
Since 1630, a somewhat quieter gentleman, known as the ‘Blue Man’ because he wears a blue silk costume, has been spotted many times in the library. He is always seen reading a book and never stays long – he disappears after a minute or two.
A little dog can also be seen in the library. During the reign of Elizabeth I, he was owned by the 13th Earl of Arundel. When his master refused to renounce the Roman Catholic faith and spent 11 years imprisoned in the Tower of London, his little dog went with him. Several guides at Arundel Castle have been asked by children why there is a little dog wandering around! But so far, no grown up has ever seen this ghostly canine.
In the 1950’s a footman started working at the Castle and was turning out the drawbridge lights when suddenly a thick fog came down and he saw a figure approach him from the shadows. The figure had long hair and was wearing a grey tunic. Despite the footman asking who he was the figure came closer – and then completely vanished! Perhaps this gentleman was just guarding the drawbridge and was checking to see if the footman was doing his job properly!
It is said that a distraught young girl has been sighted, fleeing from the castle grounds towards Hiorne Tower – sheer folly, or is it? Her one true love had rejected her, leaving her so devastated she took her own life by throwing herself from the top of the tower.
Arundel Jailhouse which dates from 1836 and is hidden away down a little alleyway near the top of Arundel High Street, was once the Arundel Town Hall Prison. Inmates convicted in the court rooms upstairs would be taken down into the prison along a dark tunnel into their cells. It could be the last time they saw daylight.
The Arundel Jailhouse has so many resident ghosts it is a hotbed of paranormal activity and paranormal groups often visit to investigate the many strange goings on. Once the doors slam shut, it is pitch black inside. The original, tiny cells, where the prisoners lived and often died, are still there today. Two local lads once accepted a bet to stay overnight in the Jailhouse. They only lasted till about 3am and left terrified! Neither of them ever told a soul what spooked them that night. Maybe it’s best we don’t know!
In the 1970s the Town Hall basement was used to store artefacts that belonged to the Arundel Museum. When they were cleared out, a local photographer took photos of the room to show it had been left clean and tidy. He was all alone in the middle of the basement when he suddenly heard a loud banging right behind his head. He headed for the door as quickly as he could, and as he left, he said, “Thank you for allowing me to take photos of your home – I’ll be off now!” Perhaps the resident ghost simply wanted to ensure peace and quiet in his basement was restored.
The Norfolk Arms Hotel built in 1783, has a playful spirit who switches electrical items on and off and pushes kitchen equipment off the work surfaces. You might think he sounds annoying, but the hotel’s other ghost is much naughtier. Some people have reported a semi-naked man running around the building! Or have they simply drunk one too many pints of delicious beer in the Norfolk Tap.
Arundel Library also has a naughty ghost. Affectionately known as Betty, it is said she was a teacher in Edwardian times, when the library was a school. Betty delights in hiding and moving things around.
In St Nicholas Parish Church a phantom priest once appeared on a photograph, standing in front of the altar. A huge debate ensued. Was the photograph, taken by a local solicitor in the early 1940s, genuine proof of a ghost or trickery.
The image became very famous and was widely published but nobody has ever proved whether it is real or a fake. A ghostly nun has also been seen and heard walking in the bell tower, and a woman in blue has been spotted praying at the altar.
Pearson Road is just like any other quiet residential street, except that one house is home to a permanent ghost. A local gentleman and one of Arundel’s Mullets How much do you really know about Arundel? was born in this house in Pearson Road, where his family had lived since it was built in the 1950s.
When he was a teenager, he awoke one night to see a figure next to his bed, dressed all in black with a bowler hat on his head and a fob watch chain on his waistcoat. The young man was too terrified to move and broke out in a cold sweat. The hairs stood up on his neck and he stared at the apparition for a few minutes. As his room was lit by the streetlight outside, he could make out the figure clearly. As it stepped forward with outstretched arms, the frightened young man shut his eyes. When he opened them the man in black was gone.
This ghostly encounter didn’t put him off living in the house, which he later bought from the council. He, and his wife, have since seen the ghost many times, on the landing or standing at the bottom of the bed in another room. A nephew has even seen him in the garden. Builders who have worked on the house asked, “who is that bloke in the black outfit who wanders around?” The owner has discovered the house was built on woodland. No other building has stood on that spot. So, what do you make of this bowler hatted resident ghost? I think the answer is – whatever you wish.
Next time you drive along the A27 (Arundel Road) towards Arundel keep your eyes peeled for a ghostly smiling woman in pale clothing. She has been seen twice in recent years. On one occasion she was illuminated by a bright light coming from below her, the second time she stepped out in front of a car. The driver slammed on the brakes but didn’t hit her as she rose into the air and then disappeared.
Amberley, close to the The River is a little hamlet just a few miles from Arundel. Amberley also boasts a castle that dates back to 1103. You might see a ghostly lady there who was shunned by her family when she became pregnant and leapt to her death from the battlements. A young teenage girl, perhaps a maid, haunts the kitchen area. She died shortly after having had an affair with a bishop and her ghost is often seen crying.
The Old Rectory in Amberley has two ghosts who have been sighted several times over the past hundred years. These ghosts, of a little girl and old man, do not feel friendly and their appearance is accompanied by a sense of evil.
In Amberley & North Stoke the locals talk of a huge monk, who you cannot miss when he appears. He stands around fifteen feet tall! This giant of a ghost has been seen near Ecclesden Manor.
If you visit some of the places you have just read about, maybe you’ll think about them in a slightly different way now you know their ghostly stories. Anything unknown and mysterious can seem scary, but the supernatural could be completely normal. Perhaps it is simply something we don’t yet fully understand.
So, this Halloween it’s okay to be afraid. Or even very afraid! If ghosts do exist, take heart from this traditional Scottish Prayer…
From ghoulies and ghosties,
And long-legged beasties,
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!