Dover Castle is situated at the shortest sea crossing of the English Channel, making it one of the most important defensive sites in Britain. Paranormal activity is abundant, especially in the war time tunnels below the castle's grounds.
There has been a castle at Dover since Anglo Saxon times. The castle was strengthened by William of Normandy, who built the first earthwork castle in 1066 before moving on to London. Between 1179 and 1188, Henry II had Dover Castle completely rebuilt. The massive keep and walls and towers of the inner bailey were built and work was started on the walls of the outer bailey. The castle was the first in Western Europe to be built to a concentric design (a series of defences, radiating in a succession of larger and larger circles from the central inner keep). The defences were completed by King John after Henry's death.
In 1216 Dover Castle was besieged by Prince Louis of France. King John left Hubert de Burgh in charge at Dover and even though the French managed to breach the defences by undermining the north gate, de Burgh's forces beat back the attack and Prince Louis called a truce. The truce was short lived as John died soon after and Louis again besieged the castle. Louis was eventually defeated by Hubert de Burgh.
Following the 1533 annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his subsequent excommunication by the Pope and the 1538 peace treaty between former enemies France and Spain, Henry VIII was isolated in Europe and a Catholic invasion of England seemed inevitable. A great chain of coastal forts was commissioned by the king, who came to Dover in 1539 to inspect the work personally.
At the end of the 18th century the Napoleonic Wars prompted a massive rebuilding program. Barracks were added and the defenses improved and Dover became a garrison town. With the Castle nearing capacity it was decided to build a complex of barracks under the castle. Up to 2000 soldiers lived in these underground barracks during the Napoleonic Wars.
At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the barracks and tunnels were used by customs to combat smuggling. This was a short term Endeavour though and in 1826 the headquarters were moved closer to shore. The tunnels then remained abandoned for more than a century.
In the twentieth century the castle played an important role in both world wars. The castle was armed with anti-aircraft guns and searchlights, supplemented during the Second World War with Radar.
In May 1940, the evacuation of 338,000 allied soldiers from Dunkirk was directed from a command centre in the converted Georgian underground barracks, at Dover Castle. New tunnels were built to house an underground hospital and the combined headquarters for the three services.
After the war the army remained in the castle until 1958; five years later the whole of Dover Castle was handed over to the Ministry of Works for preservation. Perhaps it's the castles long history or the violence that has surrounded it, that makes Dover castle one of the most haunted buildings in the UK. Dover Castle is associated with numerous ghosts and strange sounds.
A ghost has been reported in the King's bedroom, the lower half of a man has been seen walking through the doorway then vanishing. Very recently, two female members of staff saw the lower half of a man's body crossing the doorway of the King's bedchamber during the evening search of the keep. The two witnesses followed the figure into the chamber only to find he had disappeared, and there was no other exit. Other members of staff were close by in the main hall at the time. It is not known who this ghost is and why only its lower half is ever seen.
The ghost of a woman wearing a long red flowing dress has been seen at the west stairway of the keep. No facial features could be seen and the witness reported that a crying or sobbing sound accompanied the sighting. This apparition has been seen on more than one occasion in the vicinity of the west stairwell, and also in the mural gallery at the top of the keep. This apparition was reported by a male member of staff. There have also been sightings of a figure in blue being seen in the mural gallery, this figure has yet to be identified as male of female.
Visitors and staff have heard the sound of drumming coming from the Castle battlements and some even say they have seen a headless figure walking along them very late at night. This figure is believed to be Sean Flynn, a 15 year old drummer boy. He had been sent to the town of Dover late one night on an errand. Through the darkness he walked with only his drum to keep him company. Unfortunately, two greedy soldiers had heard that he was going to town and that he carried a substantial amount of money. They ambushed him and instead of just handing over the money to the robbers Sean tried to fight them off, one mighty blow from one of their swords took off his head and he lay dead only several hundred feet from the castle.
Recently the television show Most Haunted visited Dover Castle, and Medium Derek Acorah visited the Battlements. Derek seemed to be getting messages from Sean, and informed us that Sean was a proud and brave drummer boy but that he missed his mother and wanted to be with her. Derek said that he would help Sean to go to the light where he would be with his mother again, the drumming has not been heard since.
A handsome male figure dressed in early 17th century cavalier style clothing was seen by a female member of staff in 1990, around 8:30am while she was cleaning in the basement area of the keep. She described a man wearing a black wide brimmed hat with a purple cloak which draped to the floor. The witness also reported that the figure had long dark wavy hair and a moustache. The apparition stood staring at the witness for about 30 seconds then faded away into nothing.
Next we move to the tunnels under Dover Castle. The ghosts down here are sighted far more frequently than those that appear above ground.
The ghost of a 17th century pike man was seen in 1979 in the guardroom at the furthest end of the tunnels by a male member of staff. At that time the castle was owned by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. The witness described how a soldier wearing a helmet and carrying a pike walked into the guardroom through one wall and out again through another. This incident lasted only a few seconds and took place at about 6pm, while the witness was in the process of locking up at the end of the day. There have been no other reports of this apparition by any of the present members of the castle staff. The original report was made in June 1979.
A male apparition dressed in a blue cloak, has been seen walking along the passageways on more than one occasion, although it is thought that this figure may be the same figure in blue that has been seen in the keep. The underground tunnels also seem to be affected by sounds from the past. During the summer of 1991, an American tourist and his wife commented to a member of the castle staff about the "very realistic sounds" (screams and moans) which they heard while touring the passageways. The two visitors were the very last to leave the tunnels and thought they had been listening to an audio recording of sound effects. These sounds are thought to date back to the siege of the castle in 1216.
The most common phenomenon, which is reported quite frequently in the vicinity of the tower section of the tunnels, is that of the sound of banging doors, described by members of staff as "heavy wooden doors being slammed shut".
In the Hell fire (WW2) section of the tunnels there have been numerous sighting of the ghosts of servicemen who had worked here. In 1989 one witness saw a man dressed in Military uniform walk through a Metal plate door. The figure has since been reported by a number of visitors on some occasions it has been seen by multiple witnesses.
Reader's Email - The Dover Castle Cavalier
My paranormal experience relates to the 1990 sighting of the Cavalier near Dover Castle. My dad found your story only recently and has just told me of it. It has amazed us after what we saw, that someone else had such a similar experience. We had more or less ignored our sighting. It is so weird to have someone else with such a similar one.
We had spent the night in Deal seeing friends, returning late with my Dad driving. I was the front passenger and my mum was sat in the back. The sighting took place driving down the road leading to Dover castle, approaching the bend on road just after bus stop.
We all saw a tall figure, all dark, running up the hill towards us. Straight away I knew it was far too quick to make sense, the figures legs and arms were flailing and it passed us in a flash, as if travelling the same speed as the car.
I watched the figure as it approached and went past the car and watched it fading into the darkness in the wing mirror! It did not disappear only faded into the darkness as anyone would late at night (around 1.30am or so). The only features clearly visible for me were long cloak and wide hat. The Cloak was flapping away and hat was obvious on head. I did not know what to say and sat quiet for a few seconds, then asked 'did you see that'? Sure enough my parents confirmed it. My mum said she saw long hair flowing out from under the hat! None of us actually believe in ghosts, my mum is religious and so not so keen on stuff like that!
As my dad has said, how strange it is to have a similar figure description for Dover Castle, when we all thought that it had nothing but soldiers or drummer boys!
Sent in by Neil Stevens