A Ludlow Castle story

If you visit Ludlow Castle and suddenly hear a loud scream or bump into a ghostly white figure, you would be proud of meeting one of “the oldest” ghosts in English history. Her name was Marion La Bruyere, and she committed suicide almost 900 years ago.

It all started when King Henry I died in 1135 with no male heir. He expected his barons to accept his daughter Matilda as their new queen, He even made them swear an oath… twice. However, immediately after his death, many of them broke their oath and supported his nephew, Stephen, as the new king.

Matilda did not plan to give away her title, and that led to a 20-year civil war that we now call “the Anarchy”. In this period that was also known as the “19 years of winter”, Ludlow Castle was owned by a knight who was married to Sybilla De Lacy, the descendant of the man who built the castle. He belonged to a group of barons who supported Matilda. At the same time, a knight named Gilbert, from another branch of the De Lacy family supported Stephen, and this was his opportunity to take over Ludlow.

His second in command was called Sir Arnold de Lyse who had a secret affair with our ghost Marion La Bruyere. She was one of the ladies who served Sybilla De Lacy. Maintaining such a relationship was not easy when the lovers belonged to rival factions, but they did discover a way to meet each other. Marion would lower a leather ladder from her window at the top of Ludlow Castle tower (known as the Pendevin Tower), and Arnold would climb up to her room. On one of those occasions, Arnold rose to her room but made sure that the ladder stayed out, which allowed Gilbert and his men to climb up into the tower and surprise its defenders, killing them all and conquering the castle “for Stephen”…

During the battle, Marion realised what had happened and how her lover had betrayed her. In her grief, she grabbed his sword and stabbed him to death. She then climbed to her window and jumped.

So is this story real? Well, some people believe it is. Lionel Fanthorpe was a researcher of paranormal behaviour in Cardiff and spent 25 years interviewing people about strange encounters they had experienced. He created a map of the spookiest places in Britain. According to him, numerous eyewitnesses have spotted Marion walking around the grounds of the castle dressed in white. Other witnesses have claimed that they saw a woman leap to her death from the top of the Pendover tower,  others just heard her scream…

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