By Kevin Goodman
As with many Castles, Dudley Castle has the reputation of being haunted by a number of ghosts.
The first report of ghosts at the Castle was in the 1870’s, recorded by Harry Bentham, a local man and avid collector of ghost stories. These ghosts were seen again in the 1930’s and were witnessed by a guide, along with two visitors.
The guide later reported: “It happened on a fairly quiet afternoon. I was sitting at the bottom of the castle Keep with two other people, in full view of the doorway, when suddenly two elderly people came around from the keep dressed in either Seventeenth or Eighteenth century clothes. They were walking arm-in-arm and the man held a crooked walking stick and wore a very tall hat. They walked straight past us and up into the keep. I went up after them, but there was no-one there – they had just disappeared.”
In October 1962, Zoo staff working in the Undercroft, which then housed the Zoo aquarium, were disturbed by strange moans and groans, icy blasts of air, doors that opened and closed of their own accord and footsteps which had no visible cause. A ghost hunt was held there in 1953 by the “Birmingham Psychic Research Society” and reported experiencing similar manifestations, as well as one of the team feeling a “light tap” on her shoulder.
Above the undercroft is situated the Castle Chapel, which dates from the Fourteenth Century, and is fronted by a large window which looks out onto the courtyard. It is within this window that the figure of a monk has reputedly been seen.
In 1966, a teenager working at the Zoo reported hearing “weird noises” which were accompanied by the “shape of a woman in a white gown”. He resigned soon after the incident. This could be the ghost of the “Grey Lady” who has been seen in various parts of the castle. It has been suggested that she is Dorothy Beaumont, the wife of the Royalist Second in Command, who died during childbirth when the castle was besieged by Parliamentary forces in 1646.
In May 1978, three workmen repairing a broken electric cable saw several hooded figures a short distance away from them. In August of the same year another ghost hunt was held, this time in the Keep. This time a photograph was taken of a “faint figure with its arms folded”, while a ghost hunter felt a cold hand touch her shoulder.
According to legend an old woman once lived in the keep. One story says that she hung herself from the battlements on All Hallows Eve and her black cat was found dead beneath her swinging body. Another says that a gang of youths climbed the walls and discovered the old woman and her cat about to fly off to the Sabbath. Tying a rope round her neck, they threw them both from the battlements. She may haunt the castle. In 1983, there was a medieval evening with a prize for the best medieval costume. In the crowd the judges saw an elderly woman wearing a sackcloth shift and grey shawl with feet wrapped in sacking. She looked very different from the others and so authentic that they awarded her the prize, but she disappeared. The officials on the gates were certain that she had not slipped past.
In 1982, I led another ghost hunt in the undercroft, with two members reporting “something invisible” touching them. In 2006, a re-enactor reported hearing voices in the undercroft while he was trying to sleep there one night.