For over 500 years, the Pennington’s are said to have their fortunes protected by the Luck of Muncaster. This is a talisman in the form of a 6-inch diameter clear green glass bowl, decorated with colours of gold, purple and white. There is a verse that relates to the legend.
Five ghosts reputedly haunt Muncaster Castle. These include Henry VI, an apprentice carpenter, a jester, a vengeful ghost in white and that of a lion!
Henry VI was sheltered at Muncaster following his defeat at the battle of Hexham, and is now said to frequent the castle. An apprentice carpenter was decapitated whilst sleeping in the old stable block. The crime was committed by a jester named Thomas Skelton (nicknamed Tom the Fool). Tom received such orders from Sir Ferdinand Pennington, because the carpenter was having a love affair with Pennington’s daughter, Helwise.
The ghost of Skelton has been reported, as has that of Mary Bragg - a foul-mouthed local girl who was murdered by being hanged from the Main Gate by drunken youths in the 19th Century. Apparently, they kidnapped her for a joke, but it all went disastrously wrong. Those responsible were never brought to justice.
There were even accounts that a lion shot by the last Lord Muncaster in Kenya, and whose skull is kept in the castle, was sometimes heard prowling and growling around as darkness falls around the castle.
Skelton was a jester at Muncaster at the end of the 16th Century - reputedly one of the last court jesters in English history. Apparently a friend of William Shakespeare, he was “a dark character responsible for a number of deaths during his time at Muncaster”. His sick sense of humour was highlighted when it alleged that if anyone asked him for directions to Ravenglass, if he disliked the look of you he would send you towards the hidden quicksand near the River Esk - some were never seen again. Tom died around 1600, according to legend in the very marshes where he'd sent so many to their deaths when trying to return to the castle whilst drunk. His portrait hangs in the Castle, and it contains his Will. Witnesses have reported hearing footsteps approaching where his portrait hangs.
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For further information, please read Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe; Britain's Haunted Heritage by J A Brooks; Haunted Britain by Richard Jones and Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland by Richard Jones.