The Rich History of Amberley Castle
With tragic tales and ghosts that can’t seem to move on, Amberley Castle has become a hotspot for paranormal activity. But before we get into the spirits that reside here, let’s take a look at the rich and interesting history of this country house hotel…
The Bishops of Chichester
There isn’t too much known about what the early history of Amberley Castle encompasses. However, the castle’s origins can be traced back to a little timber hunting lodge that was constructed in 1103 by Bishop Luffa of Chichester. When the lodge was built, there was a parish church erected across from it as well.
Throughout the Norman period, the castle went through several transformations until, in 1140, Bishop Seffried I replaced the original building with an elaborate stone hall. Then, around 1200, Bishop Seffried II added an East Wing to the fortress.
Between 1305 and 1337, the castle kept expanding until it eventually became known as the ‘Bishop of Chichester’s Summer Palace’.
The Tudor era and the English Reformation
During the 16th century, the Amberley stronghold played a unique part in Tudor history. This is because, in 1526, King Henry VIII visited the castle to seek the advice of Bishop Sherborne about his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
Over the years, several estates and religious houses were dissolved and fell under the ownership of the crown as part of the English Reformation. Although the estate still technically belonged to the church, it was no longer used as a summer palace.
The Civil War and beyond
The 17th century wasn’t without its challenges for the castle – especially during the English Civil War. In fact, it was during this time that a Royalist tenant lived in the stronghold and refused to pay taxes to Parliament, which led to the fort becoming a Royalist stronghold.
In 1643, Oliver Cromwell ordered General Waller to destroy the castle’s defences. This caused an enormous amount of damage to the Curtain Walls and the Great Hall.
After the Civil War, Parliament ended up seizing Amberley Castle from the church and sold it to Mr John Butler, who was a cloth merchant from London. Butler went on to transform the fortress and began making the changes that have made it into the truly beautiful location it is today.
The 19th and 20th centuries
Between the 19th and 20th centuries, the castle exchanged hands numerous times. The owners and when they acquired the castle are as follows:
- 1872: Sold to Lord Zouche, who used it as a hunting lodge
- 1893: Purchased by the 15th Duke of Norfolk, who was known as ‘the builder Duke’ for his renovation of the fortress
- 1926: Sold to the Emmet family as a family home
- 1982: Hollis Baker, who reinstated the 2.5-tonne portcullis
Finally, in 1989, the castle underwent one of its final changes when it was converted into a unique luxury hotel by Joy and Martin Cummings. Today, the Amberley Castle Hotel is part of the Relais & Châteaux Hotel collection.
Amberley Castle Hotel
Amberley Castle continues to serve as an enchanting hotel offering luxurious facilities and rooms to its guests. It’s hidden in the picturesque village of Amberley and within the South Downs National Park. The current owners, Andrew and Christina Brownsword, describe the castle as having “900 years of romance and serenity in the South Downs National Park.”
If you choose to spend the night at this country house hotel, we’d highly recommend springing for a premier deluxe room. These rooms have gorgeous views of the 18-hole putting green and croquet lawn. Plus, you may even catch a glimpse of their resident peacock roaming the fort grounds!
The Spooky Spectres of Amberley Castle
Across the United Kingdom, you’ll find plenty of old castles that have been restored and repurposed. But perhaps one of the most beautiful castles is Amberley Castle. The castle is a unique luxury hotel located in the picturesque village of Amberley in West Sussex.
This wonderful building is just west of the town of Arundel (and the Arundel Castle). However, as popular as this beautiful location is, there are plenty of ugly secrets that are hidden behind its walls. In fact, it has been said that Amberley Castle is one of the most haunted places in the United Kingdom.
The tragic tale of Emily
One of the most bone-chilling (and unfortunate) ghost stories that originate within the walls of this now enchanting hotel is that of Emily. It’s said that Emily was a young woman who worked at the castle many centuries ago and became romantically involved with one of the handsome bishops who was living in the castle.
Their whirlwind romance started with innocent flirting and soon turned into clandestine meetings in the quiet corners of the stronghold. Eventually, their love led to Emily falling pregnant – a dire situation for an unmarried young woman at the time.
Emily believed that her lover, the bishop, would be overjoyed with the news and continue to love her despite their circumstances. However, when Emily mustered up the courage to tell the bishop about her condition, he rejected both her and their unborn child.
Overwhelmed by her heartbreak and in utter despair, Emily is said to have run to the highest point of the castle before flinging herself over the walls, staining the grounds with her innocent blood…
Now, it’s said that Emily still roams the grounds as a spirit, trying to relive the carefree days of stolen moments with her star-crossed lover.
According to guests who have seen Emily, her ghost brings an eerie sense of calm to anyone who encounters her. If you ask us, a friendly ghost is always better than one who’s destined to seek revenge forever!
Are there any other ghosts at Amberley Castle?
Although Emily is the most prominent spectral guest of the hotel, there have been reports of other horrifying hauntings at the castle. From disembodied voices who seem to be shouting at one another to footsteps with no point of origin, guests and staff believe that many of the spirits of long-dead soldiers still haunt these historic halls.
Can I book a paranormal tour or event at Amberley Castle?
Since Amberley Castle operates as a hotel, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the current owners don’t exactly offer ghost hunts here. Still, there are seasonal events and historic tours that you can take if you’re interested in seeing this haunted hotel. Just be sure to take some of your ghost-hunting equipment with you to take pictures of the gorgeous grounds (and maybe one of its ethereal residents).
Are there more haunted castles?
Yes, the world is full of haunted castles, each with its eerie tales and ghostly residents. Here are a few more notable ones:
- Hazlewood Castle – Located in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, Hazlewood Castle is known for its ghostly sightings, including the apparitions of monks.
- Chillingham Castle – Situated in Northumberland, this castle is famous for its chilling hauntings, including the ghost of the ‘Blue Boy’.
- Bodelwyddan Castle – This Welsh castle is reputed to be haunted by several spirits, including soldiers from World War I.
- Margam Castle – In South Wales, Margam Castle is known for its ghostly sightings, including the figure of a former gamekeeper.
- The Lumley Castle Hotel – This 14th-century castle-turned-hotel in County Durham is said to be haunted by the spirit of Lady Lumley.
With more than 900 years of history, Amberley Castle continues to intrigue and enchant paranormal enthusiasts and amateur ghost hunters around the globe. Luckily, this wonderful building is home to relatively harmless and friendly ghosts who don’t seem to mind sharing their eternal resting place with the guests and staff of the hotel.