St Braivels Castle Weekend Ghost Hunt Experience
Time & Location
About the Event
The castle was in royal possession by the 1160s and was rebuilt, with the small but impressive keep, by Henry II (r.1154–89). The Forest of Dean was important for another reason – it was one of the centres of the medieval iron industry, small scale by present day standards but a vital source of supply for the manufacture of weapons, especially crossbow bolts. The crossbow was the favourite weapon of the mercenaries who were employed in considerable numbers by Henry’s son, King John (r.1199–1216), who built a new hall (now vanished) and an elaborate chamber block at St Briavel’s.
In spite of this, John only visited St Briavel’s five times in the course of seventeen years, staying no more than eleven days altogether. John’s son, Henry III, also visited the castle from time to time, adding a small chapel to his father’s house. By this time the castle was functioning more as an administrative headquarters and workshop than a stronghold.
Under Edward I (r.1272–1307), thousands of crossbow bolts were produced at the castle in preparation for the king’s Welsh and Scottish campaigns. Edward took care to ensure that his arsenal was well protected, adding the massive twin-towered gatehouse to the castle in 1292.
With the conquest of Wales completed by the end of the 15th century, the castle’s importance declined rapidly and unused buildings were demolished in 1680.
The gatehouse became a prison where those accused of committing offences within the forest area were held while awaiting trial.
A number of prisoners’ inscriptions remain which testify to the unwholesomeness of the gaol but the legend that criminals were hanged from the battlements seems unlikely. Fines were a far more profitable form of punishment – or mutilation, which served as a public reminder of the consequences of breaking the king’s law.
The keep collapsed in 1752, by which time the great hall had also been demolished, and the east tower collapsed in 1777 destroying the adjoining buildings.
The castle was still being used as a debtors’ prison until 1842. After centuries of neglect and decay, the surviving buildings were restored and rendered habitable at the turn of the 20th century.
Today St Briavel’s enjoys a peaceful life as a youth hostel with visitors sleeping in the gatehouse prison.
The castle lies on the edge of a steep scarp above the river Wye.
Its irregular plan has led to the suggestion that it lies on the site of an earlier earthwork – perhaps a Norman ‘motte and bailey’ arrangement. By the later 12th century, a square stone keep, said to have been over 100 feet (30 metres) high, was built on top of the castle motte and in the 13th century a curtain wall was added, enclosing an area of 1.5 acres (0.61 hectares).
Other alterations included the construction of a two-storey domestic range, thought to have been the ‘royal apartments’ mentioned in documents of 1227.
A twin-towered gatehouse with a defended passage was also added and this, in turn, was replaced with the existing gatehouse by Edward I in 1292–3 to improve the defences against Welsh attack. It was designed as a ‘keep gatehouse’ – a gatehouse that could be closed and defended against attack from the rear as well as the front. There were three sets of portcullises that turned the entrance passage into a lethal ‘killing ground’.
The castle’s surviving fabric dates mainly from the 13th century and consists of a dry moat, curtain walls, fragments of the keep, a two-storey domestic range and chapel, the site of the hall, and the twin-towered gatehouse with defended passage and rooms over it.
St. Briavels Castle, St Briavels, Gloucestershire St Briavels Castle The Gatehouse
St Briavels Castle is a magnet for ghost hunters, and few who cross its threshold in search of ghostly encounters leave disappointed.
Indeed, such is its reputation for otherworldly happenings that it has been dubbed the most haunted castle in England.
The castle was begun in 1131 by Milo Fitz Walter, Earl of Hereford, to "curb the incursions of the Welsh."
THE ST BRIAVELS BREAD AND CHEESE DOLE
It was Milo who established one of the castle’s oldest traditions, that of the ‘St Briavels Bread and Cheese Dole.’ Each Whit Sunday, locals dressed in medieval costume gather outside St Briavels Castle to catch bread and cheese that is tossed from its walls.
A Tower of St Briavels Castle
Originally a ‘Dole Claimer’ was one who had paid a penny to the Earl of Hereford for the right to gather firewood from nearby Hudnalls Wood. Some believe that these titbits are imbued with magical properties – local miners, for example, thought they could protect them against accidents – and, therefore, preserve them for good luck.
On Christmas Day 1143 Milo was killed by a stray arrow whilst hunting and St Briavels Castle passed to his son.
Over succeeding centuries, the castle became the administrative centre for the Royal Forest of Dean and the residence of the Royal Constable.
KING JOHN VISITS ST BRIAVELS CASTLE
It was visited by several kings, most notably King John (1167 – 1216) who used it as a hunting lodge, and who is today commemorated by the Solar being named King John’s Bedroom in his honour. This room was later used as a courtroom, and notches on the stone of its huge fire place are reputedly the result of it being struck with a sword whenever someone was sentenced to death
Those awaiting sentence, and those who had been sentenced, would be kept in the prison room situated in the gatehouse.
A STRANGE ATMOSPHERE
Many who enter this room today comment on its decidedly "strange" atmosphere, their feelings of unease no doubt compounded by its walls being adorned with graffiti carved into them by long ago prisoners. 'Robin Belcher. The Day will come that thou shalt answer for it for thou hast sworn against me, 1671,' reads one intriguing example.
Since 1947, St Briavels Castle has been one of Britain’s most unique Youth Hostels where seekers of rural solitude can bed down for a restful night.
Meanwhile, those who come in search of more ethereal pursuits can most certainly look forward to a decent night’s unrest.
THE PITIFUL CRIES OF A GHOSTLY BABY
King John’s Bedroom is home to one of the castle’s most persistent ghosts, an unseen baby whose pitiful cries frequently disturb the slumbers of those sleeping in it.
THE HANGING ROOM
In the Hanging Room, so called because it was where prisoners who had been sentenced to death were brought to await their fate, the psychically inclined often experience the terrifying sensation of been gripped by the throat.
THE CASTLE'S OUBLIETTE
In the Oubliette Room a rug conceals one of the castle’s most chilling secrets. Pulling it back, and lifting a wooden trap door, you find yourself looking down into a sinister oubliette - a small dungeon, the name of which is derived from the French word oublier meaning ‘forget’ – into which unfortunate captives would be cast and left to die.
OTHER CASTLE GHOSTS The Interior of St Briavels Castle
Visitors to the room have felt their clothes being tugged at by unseen hands, whilst guests sleeping in here have been known to suddenly depart in the middle of the night unable to stand its oppressive feel any longer.
Other spirits that lurk at the castle include a black dog that trots around the rooms; a grey lady who glides along the top corridor; and a knight in burnished armour who appears in the grounds.
THE MARK OF HISTORY
History has most certainly left its mark on the time-wearied walls of St Briavels Castle, and tales of its ghostly goings-on help illuminate dark corners of its brutal and eventful past. It is a place of creaking floorboards where the past and present co-exist and occasionally merge with truly alarming results.
Friday 28th you will arrive at the castle and be directed to where you will be sleeping. When all the guest have arrived we will gather in the great hall and have a brief of the history of the castle and the spirits that haunt the place over supper.
Saturday 29th everyone will recieve training on how to investigate the paranormal and how to use the equipment properly. You will then have full access to the castle to hunt throughout the night with your own teams and a top paranormal expert from The Paranormal Emporium.
Sunday 30th we will all met for breakfast where The Paranormal Emporium will host an award show for the best teams and various categories where you will all have the chance to win some top prizes.
This is a very unique opportunity to stay in the most haunted location in the UK, with the elite paranormal investigation team who are trusted by governments and police across the globe. The weekend itself is a very unique experience not for the faint hearted. You will stay in a castle and have free run of the whole location. Breakfast, lunch and supper will be provided. (We do not and can not provide alcohol, however you are more than welcome to bring your own, there will be designated times on certain days which you can let you hair down and drink, however any intoxicated can not participate in any spiritual activities)
The whole weekend consists of various activities such and paranormal investigation training, haunted games (TOP SECRET AND WILL BE REVEALED ON THE HUNT), overnight ghost hunting in the most haunted location, various competitions with huge prizes.
Book now as there is only a very little amount of tickets due to the nature of the weekend. Its on a first come, first serve basis. Once we have received your booking a member of our team will be in touch to talk about your dietry and accessibility requirements (please note that this is a 12th century castle, and not suitable for anyone with restricted mobility)
Any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weekend Hunt£159£1590£0