Weird Suffolk: Phantom footsteps and mysterious ghostly faces at Framlingham Castle
- Credit: Archant
It was here that Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England and also here where a multitude of restless spirits still appear to scare the living daylights out of visitors and staff alike.
From a pair of black boots worn by an invisible owner that walk up stairs that lead from the bake house to children’s faces appearing at the attic windows, footsteps of a condemned man making an eternal journey to the prison where he would die to ghosts plunging from the prison tower to the dungeon, this is a castle full of stories.
Built in 1148 but later destroyed by Henry II in the aftermath of the revolt of 1173/4, its replacement was constructed by Roger Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk. Besieged by King John in 1216, by the end of the 13th century, Framlingham had become a luxurious home set in lush parkland which was used for hunting. By the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was at the heat of the estates of the powerful Mowbray and Howard families and boasted two artificial meres built around an extended castle.
There were beautiful pleasure gardens and luxuries were aplenty for guests who visited – but when the final Howard owner fell on hard times, the castle began to decay and in 1636 was given to Pembroke College in Cambridge.
Many of the internal buildings were removed and it became a workhouse until 1839, when it became a county court and drill hall until in 1913, it became part of the regional defences against a German invasion.
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Today it is a tourist attraction and no longer a place of residence: unless you count the many ghosts said to wander the site. On Framlingham Castle’s own Facebook page, there are a raft of spectral sightings noted by staff and visitors alike.
“We regularly encounter ghostly happenings at the castle, some of the most frequent spirit sightings include black boots on the stairs leading up from the bake house, someone coughing or clearing their throat and children’s faces at the attic windows,” it reads.
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“One very spooky story happened whilst the Red House was still a private home. The custodian’s grandson was staying and was woken by footsteps on the gravel path outside, thinking that it was his grandfather awake early he fell back to sleep.
“He was told in the morning that it was in fact the ghost of a man who was imprisoned in the prison tower and subsequently died. The footsteps being his final walk through the Postern Gate into the tower before their death.”
A comment from Tony Leech reads: “My Grandmother was the Custodian of the c
Castle in the late 1940s/early 1950s, and my side of the family lived in the house in the grounds to assist her.
“What is now called the Red House was known to me as the Captain’s House, as this was the original house for the Captain of the Poor House that was built on site after the inside of the Castle was demolished.
“My Brother remembered the apparition that would often be seen in the bedrooms of the house, and no dog would enter what was then the Tea Room.
“My Grandmother told me that on occasions she had seen soldiers walking the wall-walk at night, and my Father had seen just a pair of legs coming up the path that leads from the 'Flat Bit' up to the main bridge. Others have seen a ghostly figure falling from the top of the prison tower into the dungeon below.
“For a very young me, I would often hear what can only be described as a noisy crowd in the Poor House (now often called the Great Hall) and the workmen would send me to tell the 'visitors' that the Castle was closed, but no one was ever there!”
In 2013, reports of children’s voices were heard coming from the empty courtyard and in 2017, Andrew Wells, historic properties steward at Framlingham Castle, told the Eastern Daily Press of his unsettling experiences at the historic building.
“There were three of us in the admissions building and all of us were on one side of the room. All of a sudden, we heard the storeroom door handle move as if someone was trying to open the door – we looked to see the door open, but none of us were anywhere near it and there was not any wind blowing,” he said.
“It was the end of the day and I was in the shop on my own when I had a feeling that I was being watched, I tried to ignore it. Then, in the corner of my eye, I noticed what looked like a boot walk itself out of the bake house door, then round behind me, until it went into the fireplace and disappeared.
“I was in the attic looking for something when I heard a noise sounding like a small stone being kicked across the floor. The longer I stayed up there the more frequent the noise became, it was at that point I decided something or someone did not want me up there and left.
'Another time, when I was going into the attic, as I was going up the stairs and turning to go round the corner, I noticed in the corner of my eye a dark figure standing over me. As I got into the attic, I turned to see nothing there.
“On one evening I was up on the wall walk, walking over the gate towards the house. All of a sudden, I felt like someone was following me.
“When I turned round expecting to see a colleague behind me, I saw a dark figure with a white face walking towards me about 10 metres away. I double-took and the figure had disappeared, I then turned back and headed down to ask a colleague if it was them, but they had not got that far round…”