chose an October evening to see what might be hidden in the castle's
ancient stones and who better to accompany us than the site's custodian,
Castle was once one of the most important fortresses in the land
(it has a fascinating history)
- a king was even murdered here. However, according to Steve, no-one
has yet spotted the ghost of Richard II.
tourists visiting the castle from
all parts of the world have reported the same sighting - a black monk
walking from the remains of the kitchen towards the steps up to the
ruins of the Queen's Tower. Strangely the monk is always seen walking
from west to east, never in the opposite direction. Steve says the
monk has been seen by quite a lot of people over a considerable period
of time and they are of all ages and different backgrounds and "when
you hear it from so many people you start to believe it."
a different world: the magazine beneath Pontefract Castle
sightings usually take place around 5pm (locking-up time in winter)
and people who see the monk are usually shaking and upset. Steve
adds: "When that starts happening, it makes you wonder if there
is something there."
God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,
Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed;
All murdered: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court, and there the antick sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp.
Richard II by William Shakespeare
because of the deaths known to have occured within the castle walls,
over the years the town earned the nickname of 'Bloody Pomfret.'
the castle's past most comes to life during a visit to its underground
magazine, built originally as the cellar for the Great Hall and
later used to store gunpowder and hold prisoners during the English
is here that Steve had a strange experience of his own. Although
he has never actually seen anything that could be described as strange,
on one occasion returning to his office after taking a school party
underground, he heard a loud knocking. Concerned he had left someone
behind, he returned to the magazine and unlocked the door but there
was nobody there. Steve learned later that a former custodian had
also heard the sound of knocking coming from the magazine.
Pontefract's Hermitage: You may not like to look too closely.
few months ago his colleague is convinced he saw a shadow going
down the stairs. It is with some trepidation then that we approached
the magazine steps armed only with a candle. It was certainly very
dark underground and we could hear a steady drip, drip, dripping
of water. We held our solitary light up to look at names inscribed
hundreds of years earlier by the prisoners held here during the
says, when it comes to people seeing things at the castle, "the
majority of what I'm told is laughable." However, the castle
may have another ghostly inhabitant. A girl, probably between 9
and 13 years of age, with long brown hair and ragged clothes, has
been seen reflected in the mirror at the visitor's centre on more
than one occasion but when the spectator looks round there isn't
is the Castle the only spooky building in Pontefract. Victorian
engineers working below what is now Pontefract General Infirmary
in 1851 discovered a tiny chamber built by monks who wanted to live
as hermits. It can only be reached by a spiral staircase and it
even has a skeleton in the ceiling.