Friday, October 9, 2015

Dragsholm Castle and the Ghosts Who Chose to Stay...

Near Copenhagen, on the islet by the draugh (or small stretch of land), proudly stands the Castle known as Dragsholm. Peder Sunesen, the Bishop of Roskilde erected the original fortress during the 12th century, but the imposing structure has changed many times since its first medieval design. 

Dragsholm Castle in Winter, by Niels Elgaard Larsen

As one might imagine, over the centuries, the castle served as a home to a variety of noblemen and kings. Then from the 14th to the 15th century, Dragsholm became a prison to men of no small reputation, such as the last Catholic Bishop in Roskilde. Joachim Rønnow, a former owner, was imprisoned within her walls. So was the 4th Earl of Bothwell, the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. We also have Ejler Brockenhuus, deemed a raving lunatic…but was he really?

The castle now serves as a hotel, and if you’re thinking of booking a reservation any time soon, you might prepare yourself for encountering a few things from the past during your stay. No, I’m not talking about the antiques. I’m talking about those who call Dragsholm Castle home and have called it home for centuries.


These otherworldly residents are encountered quite frequently, all things considered. We have two stories surrounding the “white lady,” both, equally sad. One tells us that she is the daughter of a nobleman who lived at the castle (possibly Celina Bovles), who fell in love with a common man. Pregnant with his child, her intolerant father locked her in the dungeon, and left her there to die. The second tale casts her in the role of commoner who dared fall in love with the nobleman’s son. The smitten lad’s father murdered her outright, thereby ending the affair. Now before you go and dismiss either story, consider this: In 1930, construction workers, engaged in the installation of new toilets, discovered a skeleton within the wall…wearing a white dress. Those who have seen her say that at night she haunts the castle hallways looking for her lost love. Some of them have been privy to her mournful wails, and surely she cries because she has yet to find him.

We have a “grey lady” as well. According to various reports, the young maiden was a servant during her mortality. One day she arrived for work with a terrible toothache. The lord of the castle had a poultice prepared, which took away her pain. Nonetheless, she died shortly thereafter and for the love of the castle, and in deepest gratitude for the kindness she received, she continues to serve even in death.

Of course, you could just as likely run into the Earl of Bothwell as he travels in his horse-drawn coach about the castle grounds. Many have heard the clop of horse hooves as they echo along the cobbled roads. Perhaps he's looking for revenge for his barbarous imprisonment and death...

James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney and Shetland, 4th Earl of Bothwell, Public Domain

Remember Ejler Brockenhuus, the raving lunatic mentioned earlier? They call him the “Mad Squire.” The thing is, did he go mad before or after his cruel imprisonment? Either way, he probably isn’t the happiest ghost you might encounter.

There are other ghosts as well. Some say as many as a hundred or so, but the others are seen far less frequently. Perhaps that’s a good thing, or guests might not want to stay. The question is, would you?


2 comments:

  1. I love that photo of the castle. It's so....foreboding and ominous. Very easy to imagine all those specters lingering about inside. I most definitely would not want to be an overnight guest. Not even sure I'd brave it in the day.

    Love all the tales about the different ghosts. The Grey Lady especially, because she lingers out of kindness, not sadness. Great post for Halloween, Debbie!

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    1. Thanks Mae! I have wanted to explore the castles outside the U.K. for awhile now. This Halloween season seemed like a good time and Dragsholm seemed like a good place to start!

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