LEONORA, Lady Tankerville, (Tankerville is an old 1400s Grey family title) lived at Chillingham Castle in the 1920's. She tells many haunted tales of her life at Chillingham Castle:
“The first time I ever saw Chillingham Castle was actually in the company of a ghost!
“I was abroad in France one early morning, asleep. Suddenly, I dreamed I was walking through what I now know is the Chillingham West Lodge entrance, and then proceeding along the avenue towards the Castle. I had never even heard of Chillingham at that time.
“In fact, I had made the acquaintance of my future husband some months before, but had no expectation of ever seeing him again. I knew nothing of his home and no one had described it to me, nor had I seen photographs elsewhere.
Finding myself there I was full of interest and curiosity, especially wondering why the Castle, if it was to be a Castle, was not visible from the end of the avenue. I later found this to be the case. Although asleep, I remember asking myself what this meant, and wondering if I should ever see this Castle in the flesh. Then, suddenly, a young man came forward, introducing himself as my recent friend’s brother. He said, “I have come to walk with you until my brother George is ready.” We turned and walked towards the park and then my future husband joined us. The brother then disappeared.
“In fact this brother had sadly died in Afghanistan fully two years before, but I had no difficulty in recognising him later from a photograph. Maybe he was dissatisfied to leave his old home without the fulfilment of seeing his surviving brother married and settled. I never saw him again, but I felt his mind was now at rest.”
The Dying Officer
“Those who have just left their bodies are so often seen by their friends that the recital of such an occurrence becomes a mere commonplace today.
“Only last spring such a ghost visited me. – He was a young officer who we knew to be seriously ill but never thought of his being at death's door. It was after midnight and I stood at the dressing-table brushing my hair, with most of my clothes lying on the sofa near at hand. Suddenly, I became acutely conscious of this young officer’s presence, and of being curiously scrutinised, and it was as if he were about to speak. Before listening or even looking, my first impulse was to seize my dressing-gown and throw it over me. Then, turning back, ready to hear what he had to say, he was suddenly gone. The room was empty and I stood alone.
“I told my husband that our young friend must be dead, and we heard next day that he had died at that very hour.
Ghosts of War
“The third type of ghost, where the figures moved as on films, appeared to me just before the Great War, when there was much occult disturbance of every kind in all countries.
“One morning, after an exceptionally busy time, I sat down for a few moments rest in a handsome room in the Castle overlooking the Cheviot Hills. The wind made sounds in the wide old chimney just like the distant boom of cannon. As I looked out on the restful formal garden, suddenly the waving branches and heavily drifting clouds assumed a menacing and warlike aspect.
“As I looked out at this wild scene, the form of a woman seemed to take shape before me, walking on the parapet of a tower apparently as solid as the one I sat in. She was in the garb of a Dominican Abbess. After looking eagerly towards the hills of Scotland, she knelt beside the battlements as if in prayer. A man stood beside her proudly upright, handsome and-richly dressed. He too was scanning the horizon toward the enemy country of Scotland.
“A few paces behind were two men in velvet court dress of the time of King Henry VIII. They were talking in subdued tones. In the background, on the further parapet, a halberdier paced up and down on sentry duty. I got up to watch the scene from the window, thinking I was about to witness some tragedy of former times.
“Presently I called to my son in the next room, but he was out. Then a housemaid came in to close the shutters and asked a couple of questions. I thought surely the vision would have disappeared. But no! Another woman brought the Abbess an ermine cape, and now the man's rich dress was covered by a surcoat. The atmosphere was tense with a feeling and sense of impending danger!
“I spoke to them twice, and asked if I could be of any service. When the man, who was now pacing back and forth, stopped and looked at me, it was the face of my husband. But he was in the garb of France four centuries ago! Then who was the Abbess? Was that myself? And why the anxiety? What was about to happen? If it was I, what was I praying God to avert? It was not long before we knew, and the din of battle sounded in our twentieth century ears. Shortly official directions were sent to us for action in the case of an invasion!
“I believe I had, quite inadvertently, 'tuned in' to a similar moment from long ago.
Just below the floor boards of my writing room, estate workers discovered two grinning skeletons! They were lying against great, gothic carved stones, hidden to us till then. The real mystery to me is that I always sense the occult, a strong gift I have, which is why I have been ‘sent’ to Chillingham. Yet, I sense nothing here. Nothing, all these years with my writing bureau scarcely two feet above these puzzling bones. Nothing! Not even as I gazed at those solemn restful features.
NOTE: It was nearly a century later that we discovered that these bones lay in the ancient Chapel. So they would have received the traditional burial encouraging the heavenwards journey!
Why we do not all of us see these invisible things? I believe there is no inherent reason, as we all possess the same senses. We just need some understanding of those senses, and of the discipline to put it all to use. The ghosts of Chillingham, as with a radio set, have helped to show me we have the choice, for instance, as to whether we tune in to deep depression -- to the horror against which we are powerless to fight-- or rise up to the fairest heights of which man is capable and join and fight?
LEONORA TANKERVILLE (1925)