Ghost of beautiful witch said to haunt ancient Essex castle

Prince Charles will create 'slimmed down' monarchy says expert

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Hedingham Castle, is a medieval fortress that dates back to the 12th century, based in the village of Castle Hedingham. For many historians, it is considered one of the best preserved Norman keeps in England. After it was completed around 1140, William the Conqueror awarded the manor of Hedingham to Aubrey de Vere I. The keep, which is the only stone made structure left of its kind, has five floors that make up the towering 110 foot building.

While guests might be impressed with the unique architecture features Hedingham boasts, it’s also considered haunted by one notable spirit.

Polly Miles was considered by locals to be a witch back in the late 18th century.

However, unlike the stereotypical features of a magical, old ugly woman, she was actually considered to be attractive and very beautiful.

Despite her good looks, the townspeople were still wary to not be too friendly with her, as it was rumoured she had a mysterious lover.

On one winter’s night, a huge celebration was thrown in the castle grounds, where among the feasting and good tidings, Polly vanished and was not seen for the rest of the night.

In fact, the young woman was not discovered until the following spring, where her body was found floating face downwards, wearing a red cloak in a stream close to Hedingham Castle.

Rumours suggested that she had had an argument with her lover who pushed her into the water while others said Polly had committed suicided because a man did not want her anymore.

Visitors are still told today, if you go inside the castle and look up the high walls, there is a dark shadow looking down.

Folklore says it’s the ghost of Polly whose restless soul was not buried in the local parish but instead by a cross road.

It is said that every Halloween and Christmas Eve flowers appear at the crossroads where her supposed grave lies.

Another eerie tale is of a monk and a nun who tried to elope nearby, but were caught and killed by the elders.

There is also the supposed spirit of Matthew Hopkins (better known as the Witchfinder General) who supposedly lurks in this haunted Essex site, where he died of tuberculosis in 1647.

While Hedingham Castle may have a terrifying history, it’s still a family home now inhabited by the Lindsay’s, who are descended from the de Veres and the Earls of Oxford.

Today the castle mostly operates as a tourist attraction and wedding venue, where jousting, archery, re-enactment battles, vintage car shows and music concerts take place.

Those looking for a stand out wedding venue can tie the knot in a candlelit ceremony in the Ballroom Marquee surrounded by the beautiful landscaped gardens.

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