Ghost of King Edward II of Berkeley Castle

Located in Gloucestershire, England, Berkeley Castle was built in 1153 by William FitzOsbern after Henry II granted permission to construct a stone castle. Over the centuries, Berkeley Castle served an essential role in English history, with its Earls participating in many famous wars. The castle was damaged after being battered by Lord Oliver Cromwell.

For approximately 850 years, the castle has been inhabited by the Berkeley Family and is the oldest in England. The castle is best known for the royal figure who was imprisoned and murdered there.

Berkeley Castle


As Richard tells the story ...

Visitors to the castle can still see a deep dungeon in the old keep, into which the rotting carcasses of animals were once thrown, accompanied every so often, it is said, by the corpses of common people who had offended the powerful Lord Berkeley. The stench rising from this disease-ridden and malodorous pit must have been unbearable. Still, it also provided an exquisitely horrific way to punish those of noble birth who had incurred the wrath of the Berkeley family. A windowless cell can be seen close by. Here, unfortunate nobles would be locked away, with only the foul air from the nearby dungeon to breathe. It provided a convenient method to dispose of those who could not be seen to have been murdered since few people could survive long in the dreadful and fetid atmosphere.

It was this living hell that Edward II found himself confined in 1327 after he was deposed by his wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. They intended that a few days in the dreadful chamber would bring about the king's death. But his constitution surprised them. He did become ill, but he recovered and survived five months in the loathsome cell. A more direct approach was required, so the queen instructed Edward's jailers, Sir John Maltravers and Sir Thomas Gurney, to dispose of her husband as they saw fit.

And so, on September 21, 1327, Edward II suffered the most horrible death of any British monarch. The two men seized Edward and pinned him face down to the bed, whereupon "a kind of horn or funnel was thrust into his fundament through which a red-hot spit was run up his bowels." Such was the king's agony that his screams are said to have been heard far beyond the castle walls and have echoed down the centuries on the anniversary of his death ever since.

- Richard Jones