A good ghost story has its roots in a verifiable take of betrayal, jealousy and most of all, blood thirsty murder. All three of these ingredients can be found in most of the haunted places that dot the English countryside. The legend of Ruthin Castle Hotel in Wales is no different.
The original castle was built in 1207 for King Edward I as a retreat house to get away from the daily intrigues that overwhelmed the monarchy. However, peace and quiet would elude the young king, as the daily trials and tribulations of running an empire would follow him everywhere he went.
Although the castle and its hotel can claim three restless souls, the most active is a young woman dressed in a flowing gray dress who walks the halls weeping. The legend of the gray lady of Ruthin Castle can be traced back to over eight centuries ago in 1213 with a bloody murder that left a psychic scar on the castle to this day.
Edward’s second in command, a handsome and roguish soldier, was a well-known philanderer who could bed any maiden he charmed. One night, as he was locked in the throes of passion with a chambermaid, his wife returned early from an outing. Upon hearing the moans coming from their bedchamber, she silently cracked the door open. To her utter dismay, her suspicions of her husband’s infidelities became all too real. As she turned and walked down the stairs, she felt her sanity beginning to unravel. She determined that he must pay for this shameful act and only blood could pay that price.
When she entered the library, she discovered a razor-sharp ax sitting on the table. When the clock struck midnight, she found the couple laying sound asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. Rage took hold and the man’s wife brought the ax down hacking the lovers to death. When her reason returned, and she realized what she had done, she fled into the night.
It did not take long for the murderous wife to be captured and dragged back to the castle to face the King’s judgement. Without thinking, the King decided the punishment must fit the crime. The wife was dragged kicking and screaming to the executioner’s chopping block. With one mighty blow from the executioner’s axe, her screaming came to an end and she was sent off to eternity.
With the crazed woman dead, the king doubled down on his punishment and had her buried in unconsecrated ground. Her soul was now forced to spend all eternity haunting the building that brought shame on her for all time.
According to both hotel employees and guests, two different versions of the gray lady of Ruthin Castle have been encountered. The first version entails the gray lady wandering the halls, her face buried in her hands, weeping inconsolably. The second version is far more terrifying to behold. Several people have claimed to see the gray lady rush out of the shadows, her dress covered in blood as she holds an ax over her head. Before she delivers the death blow on her terrified victim, she vanishes.
The gray lady of Ruthin Castle isn’t the only ghost that haunts this eight centuries old castle. She is joined by a soldier from the English Civil War who is witnessed wandering the grounds wearing one glove. The third and final ghost is a playful little girl who is seen playing and skipping down the halls of the hotel.
While Ruthin Castle Hotel is a lovely hotel known for its hospitality, it’s hauntings should not be taken lightly. If you should find yourself roaming the ancient corridors of the old castle, remember to keep your head down, lest you lose it.
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