The lands around the present Berry Pomeroy Castle were originally bestowed upon Ralph de Pomeroy by William the Conqueror, as reward for his loyalty and support during the Norman invasion, and the subsequent battle of Hastings.
The History of Berry Pomeroy Castle
The Norman structure, still seen in the gatehouse of the present ruin, dates from the end of the 13th Century, when Henry de Pomeroy (the 9th generation of Pomeroy`s) started the construction of the castle. The structure had been completed by Henry`s death in 1305.
The castle remained in Pomeroy hands until the late 1540`s, when the castle was bought or acquired by other means by the influential Sir Edward Seymour. Edward was the Lord Protector, and the brother of Jayne Seymour, third wife to Henry VIII. Edward commissioned the building of a mansion house within the confines of the Norman castle, creating the resultant mixture of architecture seen today.
Edward Seymour made a lot of enemies as Lord Protector, and he was ousted by the Earl of Warwick and imprisoned in the Tower of London in October 1549. With 29 charges against him he was sentenced to death and executed on January 22nd 1552.
Somehow the castle remained in Seymour hands, and continued to be occupied by them up until 1688, when it was abandoned as an abode. There is some evidence that a proportion of the rooms remained inhabitable up until the reign of George the IV, and the castle has remained in guardianship of the Seymours, currently the 19th Earl of Somerset. In 1977 English Heritage took over the maintenance of the castle, and have continued to carry out restorations to the present day.
The Ghosts of Berry Pomeroy Castle
The Berry Pomeroy Castle has been the scene of numerous ghostly sightings and strange phenomena. The most enduring ghosts seem to be the terrifying apparitions of a White Lady and a Blue Lady. The White Lady haunts the dark dungeons, and rises from St Margaret`s Tower to the castle ramparts, where she has been seen beckoning to witnesses (as recently as 1987). According to the legend she is the spirit of Margaret Pomeroy, who was imprisoned in the dungeons by her sister Eleanor. Eleanor was jealous of both her beauty and her affections for the man she had designs upon. Margaret slowly starved in the dungeons, a long drawn out and painful death. Whether she is the source of the feeling of unease and horror some people experience at the castle is unknown.
The ghost of the Blue Lady is not confined to specific areas of the castle and is supposed to lure people into parts of the ruin. Traditionally she is seen as the ghost of the daughter of one of the Norman Lords of the castle. She was raped by her father, who then strangled the resulting child in one of the upper rooms.