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Tutbury Castle Ghost Hunts

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Tutbury Castle
Tutbury, Staffordshire

OVERVIEW

Tutbury Castle is a royal fortress built in the 11th Century, that has seen struggling sieges, visits of Kings and Queens, and the famous imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots who proclaimed Tutbury Castle as her most hated place. Not only is Tutbury Castle an incredibly historic site, but it's a place haunted by many ghosts who don't hold back on letting themselves be known to the living, including the Castle's most famous ghost, Mary Queen of Scots herself. Join Brookes Paranormal for chilling paranormal investigations at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, and see if you can brave the darkness.
 

HISTORY

Tutbury Castle is a medieval fortified castle built in 1068-9 by Hugh d'Avranches after he was granted Tutbury by William the Conqueror. It was on this high hill that he constructed a typical Motte and Bailey Castle, which would've been made out of timber wood before later being replaced by stone in the early 12th Century. However, there is evidence of the land having human activity as far back as 10,000 years ago, with the name 'Tutbury' deriving from a Scandinavian settler called 'Totta' and 'Burh' meaning 'Fortified Place', literally translating to 'the fortified place belonging to Totta'.

In 1071 the Castle was granted to Henry de Ferrers, a magnate and administrator who served both William I and William II, and was even tasked as a royal commissioner to survey for the Domesday Book. Him and his wife Bertha founded nearby Tutbury Priory in 1089. The Siege of Tutbury took place in 1153 during a period known as 'The Anarchy', a civil war between King Stephen and his cousin Empress Matilda. Matilda's son Henry of Anjou, who eventually became Henry II, besieged the Castle in this year, describing it as being "impregnably fortified". Tutbury was besieged again in 1173 when William de Ferrers joined a rebellion against Henry II, and the Castle was slighted in 1175.

In the late 12th Century a Chapel was built on this site, and the stone foundations of this chapel can still be seen today on the grounds. In November of 1251, Henry III spent several days at Tutbury Castle, but came under attack by a rebellion from Robert de Ferrers at Tutbury in 1263, with Henry's son Lord Edward attacking the Castle the following year, and by 1266 Robert de Ferrers had his estates confiscated and given to the King's youngest son, Edmund Crouchback. Edmund was made first Earl of Lancaster in 1267, and spent time and wealth restoring the Castle in which he visited in 1283. Edmund and his son Thomas funded a variety of structures and features on the Castle grounds over the next 20 years, including a large Hall, a garden, a fishpond, a vineyard and other small buildings on the south side. In 1313-14, Thomas of Lancaster spent £100 to build the Gatehouse. In December 1323, Edward II visited and stayed over at Tutbury Castle, with a fire breaking out in the 'high tower' just after he left. In 1362-3, John of Gaunt inherited Tutbury Castle and was permitted from Edward III to make repairs to it. Between 1372 and 1383, John of Gaunt repeatedly visited the Castle with his second wife Constance of Castile, establishing a Minstrels' Fair there every August.

In 1399, Henry of Lancaster became Henry IV and linked the Duchy estates to the Crown. Henry IV visited Tutbury Castle in 1404. In 1414, Tutbury started taking in prisoners into the Castle. It was around this time that new stone walls and towers were being built, with the South Tower being constructed between 1442-50. In 1449, Henry VI gave Tutbury Castle to his wife Margaret of Anjou as a wedding gift, and in circa 1457 the North Tower was built. Richard III visited Tutbury Castle in 1484, to inspect progress on some new buildings that were being built, including one that would later become known as Mary Queen of Scots' Lodge. After Richard was killed at Bosworth in 1485, the following year saw Henry VII continue to pay for the range of buildings that hadn't been completed. Henry VIII visited and stayed over at Tutbury Castle in 1511, but despite his royal visit, the Castle was deteriorating and in poor condition, with surveys describing it as "an old stately castle, decayed in many places". Repairs and restorations were carried out over the next 50 years.

In 1567, Mary Stuart known as Mary Queen of Scots, fled to England after being forced to abdicate the Scottish throne and sought refuge with her first cousin once-removed Elizabeth I. But Elizabeth had other plans, as she prepped to turn Tutbury Castle into a prison for her, sensing that she would be a threat to her own throne, let alone the Scottish one. From February 1569 to May 1570, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Tutbury Castle on three occasions under the watchful eyes of the Constable of Tutbury Castle, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick. Mary described Tutbury Castle as her most hated place, with it being very cold, damp and depressing. Over the years she would try to plan negotiations to return back to Scotland on the throne, even offering to make Scotland a Protestant country to get into Elizabeth's good books, but sadly for her these plans were rejected by Scottish councils. In January 1585, Mary returned to Tutbury Castle one last time with a new and stricter gaoler watching over her every thought and move, a man called Sir Amyas Paulet, a strong and severe Puritan. She stayed imprisoned at the Castle for most of the year, until she was moved to Chartley Castle and then Fotheringhay Castle. At 10am on Wednesday 8th February 1587 at the age of 44, Mary Queen of Scots was executed with three strikes of the axe to her head. It is widely reported her ghost haunts Tutbury Castle, with her full apparition walking the grounds. Between 1619 and 1624, Mary's son James I of England visited and stayed at Tutbury Castle three times.

At the start of the English Civil War, Parliamentary forces attempted to take Tutbury but failed. Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert resided at Tutbury Castle in May 1645 and took shelter there during the Civil War. In Spring of the following year, another three-week siege at Tutbury happened, leading to the surrender of the town on the 20th April, with one of the surrendering conditions being the destruction of the Castle. Parliament accepted this and in the following years they began dismantling the site. When the Monarchy was restored in 1660, Charles II ordered for some of the Castle rooms to be repaired, including the Great Hall and the King's Bedroom. At this point the majority of the Castle was in complete ruin.

In 1780 through to 1792, a Tower Folly was built on top of the motte and another Folly was built near where the South Tower stands. This was done by Lord Vernon of Sudbury who leased the Castle at this time. In the early 19th Century, some farm buildings were constructed, and these now house both the Kitchen and the Tearoom. In 1832 a plan was proposed to convert Tutbury Castle from a farm into a prison again, but this was rejected by the Duchy, probably given the troubled past. In 1952 the Castle ceased to be a farm, and excavations carried out by Sir Robert Somerville between 1955 and 1960 uncovered the lost 12th Century Chapel. In March 1952, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Tutbury Castle and planted two trees on the grounds, and Elizabeth II visited the Castle again in 1982. In 2000, the lost staircase to the Great Hall was re-discovered and re-opened. Tutbury Castle is presently curated by Lesley Smith and her family, who operate events, weddings and ghost tours on behalf of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is currently held by King Charles III.

GHOSTS & HAUNTINGS

Tutbury Castle is renowned for being one of the most haunted castles in the whole of the UK, with numerous hauntings and frightening paranormal activity.

Perhaps the Castle's most famous ghost is Mary Queen of Scots, who has been reportedly seen on numerous occasions around the Castle grounds. She is often seen by those in military uniform, and has also made appearances between the hours of 10pm and 11pm. In 1984, a serving marine had witnessed her apparition walking swiftly across the grounds, before fading away. On another occasion during one Summer, archaeologists who were excavating the site claimed to have seen her ghost walking the grounds as well. But more interestingly in 2004, a group of 40 men witnessed a lady in an Elizabethan white gown standing at the top of the South Tower. Jokingly they thought it was a member of staff dressed up, but soon found out that this was not the case. Several staff members have seen her apparition over the years, with some reportedly seeing her at the window of the Great Hall as they leave at the end of the day in their cars.

A male spirit dressed in elegant 17th Century clothing
has been seen and sensed in the King's Bedroom, with many visitors feeling disorientated and faint any time he comes into the atmosphere. Some say this male is Charles I who regularly visited the Castle in his time, and perhaps still does but residually. In August 2018 when Lynda and Jordan the two co-founders of Brookes Paranormal investigated Tutbury Castle, Jordan experienced a frightening time slip event in the King's Bedroom, where he blacked out in reality, but described walking the grounds in another time centuries before, with the sky being a Sepia haze, dead soldiers lying on the grass, and a short male seen looking out the window of the Great Hall. When he came around he was struggling to breathe and had to be taken outside. We recently learned from the curator Lesley Smith that in the 1960s a young boy had a similar experience.

A ghostly male figure dressed in a full suit of armour has also been seen on many occasions standing at the Gatehouse, shouting "Get thee hence!" at people, before vanishing. Re-enactments take place at Tutbury Castle and might be a possible cause of triggering his energy to manifest. His last known sighting was a few years ago, so will he make his presence known during your ghost hunt?

Located near the North Tower on the grassy bank, a humanoid white mist is sometimes seen, with many ghost hunters and visitors capturing photos of this strange phenomena.

Two spiritual energies of a young boy and a young girl have also been sensed in the main building, with the little girl being a playful spirit who grabs people's hands and tugs on their clothing, and the little boy showing himself sat on the stairs in the Great Hall. He's described as being so life-like that people genuinely believe he's a real boy. There's also been some claims that the little girl might actually be a boy but with long mousy brown hair, and so at a quick glance he might appear as a little girl to the naked eye.

Other paranormal activity reported at Tutbury Castle include blue lights and orbs seen in the Great Hall whenever Lesley Smith dons the Mary Queen of Scots costume and performs her monologue. Loud bangs and taps have been heard in the Great Hall, and lights strangely flicker whenever ghostly activity has been happening. During our daytime walk around of the Castle, Lynda, Jordan and Lesley all witnessed the lights in the King's Bedroom flicker heavily soon after Lesley spoke of the history of the room. Could this be the ghost of King Charles letting us be aware of his presence?


In April 2003, Most Haunted filmed an episode at Tutbury Castle for their second season, and it is still today one of the most intriguing episodes in terms of activity and evidence captured.

 

YOUR GHOST HUNT EXPERIENCE

Your night of ghost hunting with Brookes Paranormal is guaranteed a fun, safe and spooky one. Experience this historic location with exclusive access after dark, as you explore the eerie rooms and areas in search for the ghostly spirits that haunt here. Here at Tutbury Castle, you will get to investigate the Great Hall, the King's Bedroom, the Tower Folly, the Undercroft in the South Tower ruins, the Chapel Foundations, and the Medieval Torture Chamber in the North Tower ruins.

Our team are friendly, professional, approachable and knowledgeable with paranormal investigating, and we will guide and support you to make sure you get the most out of your investigation. We welcome everyone from all walks of life, as our events are a safe space for all who love and enjoy the thrill of ghost hunting. Whether you're a paranormal novice or an experienced investigator, you'll be well-looked after and treated like family.

This is an honest ghost hunting experience, so there won't be any fakery or trickery during the night. We believe that if activity happens, it happens for real.

On your ghost hunt, you will be split into smaller groups to give you the best, personal experience possible. You will also get hands on with various pieces of ghost hunting equipment and participate in interesting paranormal experiments.
​ While we encourage everyone
to get involved in the night's vigils, you don't have to partake in experiments like Ouija Boards and the Estes Method if you don't
want to, we have plenty of other equipment for you to use.


You will also have a couple of breaks throughout the night, where we provide you with unlimited refreshments and snacks.

 

YOUR EVENT INCLUDES

  • Group photo of all guests which gets published to our page

  • Small group extended vigils

  • Refreshments and snacks like teas, coffees, hot chocolates,
    bottles of water, biscuits, crisps and chocolate bars

  • Full use of ghost hunting equipment like K2s, EMF Meters,
    REM Pods, Mel Meters, Spirit Boxes, Motion Detectors,
    Dowsing Rods, Laser Grid Pens, ITC Apps and SLS Cameras

  • Paranormal experiments like Ouija Boards, Glass Divination,
    Table Tipping, S
    éances, Estes Method and Human Pendulum

  • An introduction to ghost hunting equipment and techniques
    for guests new to the paranormal

 

PLEASE NOTE BEFORE BOOKING

  • All attendees MUST be 18 years or older

  • Heavily pregnant women are NOT allowed on these events

  • This location is NOT wheelchair accessible

  • This location has NO sleepover facilities

  • We operate a STRICT No Alcohol/Drugs Policy on our events, and if caught or believed to be under the influence of any alcohol or drugs, you will be removed from the event immediately and banned from all future events - No refunds

  • All attendees MUST bring a torch to the event, as we will be investigating in dark areas and low light conditions

  • Sensible footwear is required for the location's environmental conditions

  • In the colder months we advise to wear warm layered clothing, and bring a warm coat with you as the night will get cooler as the event progresses

  • History tours are NOT provided at this location, but we will talk briefly on the location's past

  • Ouija Boards are NOT brought to events at this location

  • Please ensure you are able to attend this event; deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable, and full payments and remaining balances are non-refundable and non-transferable
    four weeks prior to the event date

ADDRESS, EVENT TIMES & PARKING

ADDRESS: Tutbury Castle, Burton-upon-Trent, Tutbury, Staffordshire, DE13 9JF

EVENT TIMES: 8:00pm - 1:00am (arrive at 7:45pm. Please wait patiently outside the Gatehouse until a member of our team greets you there)

PARKING:

  • Car Parking Onsite - grass area before the Gatehouse

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