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Herstmonceux Castle

A "White Lady" has been seen swimming in the moat at night, or standing beside the water, where she is described as wringing her hands. It is said that she was a girl from the village who Sir Roger de Fiennes, the builder of the castle, tried to have his way with. She escaped him by jumping into the moat, but she was soon recaptured where he raped and then murdered her. Another version of this tale is she is Georgiana Naylor who was obsessed with the colour white but was one day left disfigured by some misfortune and lived overseas in seclusion, returning to the castle in death. A "Grey Lady", named by some as Grace Pelham, is seen wringing her hands in the courtyard (perhaps mistaken with the "White Lady"?) due to the fact that she died from self starvation possibly to fit into the corsets of the mid 19th century. Another phantom, but with no details given, is that of a member (or members?) of the clergy. A famous spectre is that of a phantom drummer, seen on the ramparts at night, with the story going that he is 9 feet tall with blue sparks flying from his drumsticks. It is believed that he was a boy who died at Agincourt; others stories claim that he signalled to smugglers that the coast was clear; while another legend claims that he is Lord Dacre who faked his death and lived secretly at the castle with his wife, and who pretended to be a demonic drummer to fend off potential suitors for his "widow". The story goes that she became tired of this charade and that she locked him in his room, where he starved to death. Another legend is that of the third Lord Dacre who is seen riding a horse. They approach the castle but they both vanish after leaping into the moat. Dacre was executed when he and some friends went on a drunken poaching expedition on a neighbouring estate but they were stopped by gamekeepers, one of whom was killed in a scuffle.

Update 3/3/22: Guy Lucas, the Gardens and Grounds Manager replied to my email; "Unfortunately there haven't been recent occasions like this that I have been made aware of."

Link: SussexLive

Link: Hastings and St Leonards Observer


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