We spent the weekend being medieval people at Bolton Castle in a place up in the Dales called… Castle Bolton. Well, me and Nos 2 and 3 did. No 5 and dad came up to visit on Sunday and luckily 5 came resplendent in his 15thC kit. As you can see, he enjoyed some medieval experiences.
There was amazing food – not just the usual re-enactor rustic bread n cheese n pottage – but game (hare and pigeons), and I think they got through about 10 chickens – loads of other stuff. And apple pies, which most impressed my boys. No 3 is big on pie. He’s at that age.
I have so few photos, recently we realised I have had about as many pics taken of me as the Yeti. Although his are more flattering. The present Viscount took to remedying this, with an impromtu photoshoot as I had to produce a photo of self fast for something. Of all the shots the present Viscount took, only one was almost usable. I looked like a female impersonator in every single other one….
Back to the Castle.
We could choose wherever we wanted to sleep, Sat night. Me and Children 2 & 3 slept in the Nursery, where Mary Queen of Scots’ ladies in waiting were put when she was imprisoned there. Spooky as all hel. I think I slept maybe one hour. And once my head was in that sleeping bag, I wasn’t going to open my eyes or look out til dawn, let me tell you…
The group we were with have stayed there several times a year, for 15 years or so and almost everyone has seen or experienced something. That’s why most of them sleep on the floor of the medieval kitchen, in a big gaggle. But we had decided to take a room.
One story we heard was, they have a tape of monks chanting they play into the chapel in the day. Someone who was there overnight, asked the women who work there the next day why they’d forgotten to ‘turn off the monks’. They had heard them singing in the middle of the night. Only to be told they hadn’t forgotten and they definitely had turned off the monks.
Apparently, they have had big burly workmen, sent upstairs to fix something in the chamber where Mary Q of S stayed, come racing down the stairs and abandon their tools, vowing never to return or go back up to finish the job. In broad daylight. Also, a couple of weeks ago, one of the re-enactors saw an orb in borad daylight. Not a bit of dust in a photo but saw it with his naked eye. Apparently they got loads of photos a couple of weeks back, too.
We’d already done our Yvette Fielding/Derek Acorah thing, in the chapel, which was just next to the room where we slept. Part of the castle is intact, and part – including the chapel – a ruin. Anyway, on our way up to bed, leaving No 2 to continue dancing on the table singing Julie Andrews songs in the style of a Klingon, No 3 and I decided to do a Derek and Yvette re-enactment and stepped into the now utterly dark, deserted and 2am chapel. Or rather being the intrepid (stupid) one, I stepped in as No 3 waivered in the doorway.
“Listen, 3, I can hear ticking….”
“No you can’t mum, don’t be ridiculous”.
Looked a bit scared but he followed me in.
The sound promptly got louder. It had sounded like ticking (no clock on any of the towers) but now… sounded like footsteps, someone running, hard, on either the courtyard below on the other, (walled in, inaccesible) side of the chapel. .. And they were getting nearer.
You can imagine how fast we ran out of there. Like Shaggy and Scooby, if you’d seen us the legs would have been windmilling round furiously.
A while later No 2 came to bed and I decided to say nothing. In the middle of the night (by now I was wide awake with a crashing migraine), No 2 sat bolt upright and clutched me:
“Mum, I’m terrified!”
He could just hear the others in the adjoining room coming and going to the loo. You could hear the camp beds creaking after the massive oak door opened/shut. So I knew it was nothing ‘phantom’. I reassured him, again not mentioning what No 3 and I had heard.
So passed a night of terror enlivened only by migraine so severe that 2 Migraleves did nothing to touch it.
In the morning, No 3 and I made a beeline back to the chapel. A bright, sunny September morning, clear sky. No longer scary. And we heard rooks. They were making a sound exactly like that ticking…
“But that still doesn’t explain the footsteps.” I said to him. “And remember, they were getting nearer to us even after we started running”. They had. As we stood at the huge oak door, trying to open it quietly so as not to wake the others, we’d heard it get nearer. Like it was following us.
Later, me and No 2 went right up the tower. I’d been so busy flat out all day demonstrating spinning on the Great Wheel to the public, and teaching lovely E., current Viscount’s colleague, to spin. But everyone told us we should see the tower. And high, high above Wensleydale, early in the Sunday morning, we felt so privileged to wake up in this special, beautiful place. There was the flag, cracking in the wind. It sounded – just like running footsteps. On a hard floor.
I think you know the moral of the story without me spelling it out, Gentle Reader.