You can’t throw a stone in England without hitting an old castle. Go inside the castle and you can’t throw a stone without disturbing some ghost. Dean Buckley is not a stone thrower but a ghost hunter who not only manages to find ghosts in old castles, he and his partner Veronica Buckley take some great pictures of the spirits and the locations as well. The Buckleys were recently at the ancient and historic Tickhill Castle and managed to take some pictures to add to their collection from previous visits, and were kind enough to share some along with their experiences.
“People seeing a shadow figure walking outside the castle gates the entrance to Tickhill Castle and on the lane in front of it next to Tickhill duckpond; they also report hearing the sounds of horses over the years and unexplained voices in the area on quiet dark nights.”
Dean Buckley says tales of ghosts at Tickhill Castle go back at least 150 years, but the story of the castle begins long before that. It starts with Roger de Busli, a Norman baron who fought with William the Norman who became William the Conqueror. After the Norman conquest, William granted Roger 174 estates in Nottinghamshire, and he built what weas originally known as Blythe Castle on the Nottingham/Yorkshire border (he held authority in both) on a motte-and-bailey foundation -- a ‘motte’ is a raised area and a ‘bailey’ is a walled courtyard surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. Blythe Castle (it later became known as Tickhill Castle due to its proximity to Tickhill on the South Yorkshire side – Tickhill means either "Hill where young goats are kept" or "Hill of man called Tica") towered over two acres inside the bailey, but Roger died without an heir, so William II granted his estates to Robert de Bellême, Earl of Shrewsbury. However, being on the border, the castle was fought over with King Henry I emerging victorious.
“I was standing outside the entrance on the left of the entrance with my mate and medium Gail Buckley we heard a lot of shuffling towards the right hands side threw the trees side of the moat for around 30 seconds.”
Dean was investigating the Tickhill Castle grounds with his mother, medium Gail Buckley, when they heard some unusual noises. With the amount of conflicts fought over Tickhill Castle, it could easily have been the spirit of one of the soldiers or leaders involved. Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester who owned it from 1151 to 1153, was poisoned. King Henry II expanded it in 1192, and his sons Richard I (Richard the Lionhearted) and John fought over it. It was successfully besieged by Hugh de Puiset in 1194, unsuccessfully in 1321 by Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster during a rebellion against Edward II, and in 1343 was the prison of the exiled Joanna of Flanders, Duchess of Brittany, who had been declared insane. Did the Buckleys hear one of these spirits returning?
“Then all of a sudden I took a photo and I caught a bowman soldier leaping across the wall outside of the castle. Then suddenly it disappeared. The three of us were talking about what we just heard when I looked at the photo taken on my camera. I showed the other two who were there with me and we not believe what we caught on camera.”
Who was the bowman? It could have been someone fighting when Tickhill Castle was attacked by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster as part of his rebellion against Edward II. Thomas successfully withstood attacks by royal favorites Piers Gaveston and the Despenser family, but was defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge (1322) and executed by Edward II.
“Later that night, as we was sat in the car, we saw an old guy in different clothes not from our time period walk past on the driver side. As I was sat in the passenger side, we saw him come up close, turn and look in at us both as the window was halfway down. Then he turned away and carried on walking past the car and then disappeared in front of the driver side of the car. I got out the car and looked around but there was nobody there -- we could see from the street lamps no one was in sight. He was a oldish man late 60s, rough looking with grey hair with ragged clothes that looked like a black suit jacket and old cords with a green scarf around his neck and white shirt on. The clothes looked like torn rags that he had been wearing them sometime.
Perhaps the mysterious old man seen by the Buckleys was from the English Civil War which began in 1642. Tickhill Castle was then owned by Sir Ralph Hansby, who died there in 1643. Major Monckton took over and kept the castle on the side of the Royalists. Unfortunately, John Lilburne and 200 Dragoons from the Earl of Manchester's army marched to Tickhill, and accepted the castle's surrender in 1644. on 26 July. The castle was razed in 1648 to prevent its use as a stronghold in the future.
“On another night of investigations, we were on the bridge on the duckpond looking over to the castle entrance. There we heard a few strange sounds coming from the location – they sounded like drums being pounded and male voices talking.”
Could the Buckleys have been hearing the spirits of the Dragoons marching to take over Tickhill Castle? That event and the destruction marked the end of Tickhill Castle as a military fortification. It remained in the Hansby family, which kept the house and remodeled it in the Georgian style in the eighteenth century. The grounds were landscaped, a footpath around the outside of the curtain wall, and the castle remains a residence to this day on a long term lease by the Duchy of Lancaster.
We’d like to thank Dean Buckley and Gail Buckley for the great photographs and accounts of their investigations of the historic and haunted Tickhill Castle.