My name is John Hamilton, my father often said to me that I was related to a Scottishfamily of Hamilton’s that goes back three generations, but I have never bothered to look into it. Both of my parents sadly died during the last few years and I never hadBrothers or sisters. I spend my life now looking into the history of famous NormanCastles. Some of them having very strange stories attached to them. Glen Morris Castlewas one of them.
The Castle was near Benbridge, in a small town near Castleford, I made a point of looking for any information I could find about the castle and its past and whether it is sometimes open to visitors. I discovered that it was usually open at the weekend, to visit, but you had to make an appointment with the Castle guide. The only way you could do that was to pay a visit to the Red Dog, an antiquated small pub in the town.
There were many different strange and frightening legends of the castles history told in the Red Dog from time to time. One of them was about the Hamilton family during the sixteen hundreds. The story concerned a secret room somewhere in the castle. It was said that this room contained a terrifying spectacle which the family were obliged to keep hidden from the world. I had a curious feeling to pay a visit to the Red Dog, which was quite close to the Castle. It was tucked away up a dark alleyway with its name sign lit up in red neon. The door squeaked loudly as I entered, and I made my way to the bar where I was met with a large bar tender. I ordered a pint of ale and sat at a table at the back of the bar. As I did so I heard a crack of thunder in the distance, followed by heavy rain pattering down and running down the windows.
The pub itself was a dismal building with stairs that creaked as a woman came down and went behind the bar. The floor was well worn and made of untreated floor boards and what looked like dry rot in places. There were only three other people in the bar two were sitting in a corner, engrossed in playing cards. The third was a creepy looking old man sat at a table opposite me. I felt he was watching and waiting for a chance to speak to me. After a few moments he came over to me and introduced himself as Jules Strangbourne, the castle’s official guide.
All of a sudden the bar entrance door blew open, accompanied with heavy rain andlightening which lit up the inside of the building. Jules Strangbourne was a strange looking man. He sat looking at me with evil looking eyes. He asked me
‘When would l like to visit the castle?’
l said, ‘ Before l decide, I would like to hear more about the secret room.’
He seemed scarcely to have heard me. ‘Yes yes, of coarse.’ he replied. l was puzzled and a little irritated by his air of detachment, l remained silent. He began to tell me the story of the Castle’s Secret room. He said that only three people were permitted to enter the secret room once in a generation. lt contained a terrifying spectacle which is being kept hidden from the world. The Earl of Mullhern had a male heir, and the Heir and one other male person, designated by the Earl as the Castle’s factor, was allowed only once to enter the room.” within three days after the male heir came of age he was conducted to the secret room by the Earl and the factor. The room was then sealed and never opened again until the Heir conducted his own son to the grisly chamber.
A legend indicated that the room was used by medieval Earls as a torture chamber. A popular mention through the ages was about a past female Hamilton ancestor a lady Glanville who reputedly made a pact with the Devil. She had been condemned as a witch, but somehow she managed to escape the stake. The date of her death was unknown.
I said; ‘Perhaps tomorrow you could arrange to take me for a tour of the castle.’ He seemed scarcely to hear me as he took another swallow of brandy, and then he looked straight at me.
’Yes yes, of course.’ he replied absently, ‘l am the Factor of Glen Morris Castle.’ The Factor said, ‘There are some distant male cousins living in the country. I have an idea not one of them will remember Frederick, the young heir, and now Thirteenth Earl and came of age just three days ago. To night is important that he be taken to the secret chamber,’
l gaped at the Factor in amazement for a moment, he had heard of my interest in Glen Morris Castle, and was purely pulling my leg for amusement in the belief that l was a gullible tourist.
‘It’s extremely unfortunate that l am asking you as one with the blood, to accompany the young Earl and myself to the secret room tonight.’ He said.
l gulped….Lightning flashed on the windows, l could here the rain swishing over the
stones outside. I managed a reply.
But l….that is ,,,,my relationship is very remote, l have the blood” by courtesy only you might say. The strain in me is very diluted.
He shrugged; ‘You bear the name, and you possess a few drops of Payne blood. Under the present situation, no more is necessary.’
There was no escaping the intensity of the pressure of those cold blue eyes they seemed to follow my mind about while it looked for further excuses. Finally, l agreed.. A feeling inside me felt that the meeting had been prior arranged for me to visit the secret chamber tonight.
He nodded and said; ‘Tonight. Myself, the young Earl and one other.’ l stared at him as he continued. ‘The other one is you. You will accompany us. That is the custom. The Heirs Father is dead. Shortly before he passed away, he instructed me to select someone, that person must be male and preferably of the blood.’
I said not a word. |I gulped…..We finished our drinks and put our coats on and left the pub. Once outside, sheets of heavy rain met us with the roar of thunder, which made any conversation difficult. As we walked along the factor said; ‘Frederick, the young heir, with the shock of his fathers death dreads tonight’s ordeal, which he knows must come.’
Stopping before a large embellished door with carved fleurs-de-lis and metal scrollwork, he gave a shadowed glance and then knocked. Someone enquired who was there, and he identified himself. Presently a heavy bolt was lifted and the door opened. The early Glen Morris family had been stubborn fighters in their day the warrior blood had become considerably diluted in the veins of Frederick, the young heir and now thirteenth Earl was before me. I saw before me a thin pale faced young man whose darkened eyes look haunted and fearful. He wore a dark green velvet coat and trousers, a green satin waste band, white lace around his neck and wrists. He beckoned us in with reluctance and closed the door. In one corner of the room there was an antique canopy bed. In another was a writing table with a writing-table lamp. After a brief introduction which included how I became to accompanying them, the Factor enquired whether his Lordship was ready to visit the Chamber,
‘yes’ he said with annoyance i his voice.
Fredericks face now lost every trace of colour and preceded us into a passage. The Factor opened a door to a cobwebbed supply room. Here he secured candles, a pick, chisels and a sledge hammer. After packing them all in to leather bag, which he slung over his shoulder. He then picked up a fagot torch from one of the shelves in the room. He lit the fagot and waited until the torch lit up into a steady flame. l-le closed the room and beckoned us to follow him. Nearby there were descending spiral stone steps. As we defended they became wet and cold, the air grew colder, but the cold was not the type that refreshes. It was laden with the smell of mould and dampness. At the bottom of the steps we were faced with a tunnel, pitch-black and silent. The Factor raised his torch and said;
‘Glen Morris Castle is Norman, but it is said that it was built over a Saxon ruin. It is believed that the passage ways with these depths were constructed by the Saxons.’
He hesitated briefly, I thought he was listening. Then glancing round at us he proceeded down the passage. I walked behind the Earl, shivering. The icy air seemed to pierce my bones. The stones under foot grew slippery with a film of slime. I longed for more light, but there was none save for the flickering of the bobbing torch of the Factor. The end of this passage brought us to more descending steps. We went down some fifteen and enter narrow tunnel which appeared to be cut-out of solid rock on which the Castle had been built on. At last the Factor lifted his torch and slid the leather bag from his shoulder. We stood before a wall made of some kind of building stone. Though damp and stained with nitre, it was obviously of much more recent construction than anything we had encountered before. Glancing round at us, the Factor handed me a torch.
‘Keep a good hold of it, if you please, I have candles, but….’ he drew the pick from his sling bag and began an assault on the wall.
He carried on with the demolition. After he had made a hole in it, he took out the sledge hammer and quicker progress was made. Finally, he was through, leaving a small step to walk over when entering the chamber.
The Factor lifted his torch and peered into the black depths of the Chamber. Fearfully Igazed around his shoulder. There was no sound at first, I could see only nitre encrusted walls and a wet stone floor, however in a far corner just beyond the flickering halo of the faggot torch I saw two tiny fiery spots of red. I tried to convince myself that they were two red jewels, two rubies shining in the torchlight. But I new at once – I felt at once -what they were. They were two red eyes watching us with a fierce unwavering stair. The Factor spoke softly;
‘Wait here.‘ He crossed towards the corner, stopped halfway and held out hi torch at arm’s length. For a moment he was silent. Finally he emitted a long shuddering sigh. When he spoke again his voice had changed. Now it was only a whisper.
‘Come forward.’ in a strange hollow voice.
I followed Frederick until he stood on the either side of the Factor. When i saw what was crouched on a stone bench in that far corner, I was sure I would faint. My heart literally stopped beating, in two seconds. the blood left my extremeties I reeled with dizziness, I might have cried out, but my throat would not open. The entity which rested on that stone bench was like something that had crawled out of hell. A red smear or blotch of some sort covered the wizened slit which served it as a mouth.
It was impossible to stare back into those monstrous red eyes. Glancing aside, I saw that the Factor was now supporting Frederick. The young heir had sagged against him, staring fixedly at the fearful apparition with terror. The Factor lifted his torch and peered into the black depths of the Chamber. Fearfully I gazed around his shoulder. There was no sound at first, I could see only nitre-encrusted walls and a wet stone floor, however in a far corner just beyond the flickering halo of the
faggot torch I saw two tiny fiery spots of red. I tried to convince myself that they were two red jewels, two rubies shining in the torchlight. But I new at once – I felt at once -what they were. They were two red eyes watching us with a fierce unwavering stair. The Factor spoke softly
‘Wait here.‘ He crossed towards the corner, stopped halfway and held out his torch at arm’s length. For a moment he was silent. Finally he emitted a long shuddering sigh. When he spoke again his voice had changed. Now it was only a whisper.
‘Come forward.’ in a strange hollow voice.
I followed Frederick until he stood on the either side of the Factor. When I saw what was crouched on a stone bench in that far corner, I was sure I would faint. My heart literally stopped beating, in two seconds. the blood left my extremeties I reeled with dizziness, I might have cried out, but my throat would not open. The entity which rested on that stone bench was like something that had crawled out of hell.
A red smear or blotch of some sort covered the wizened slit which served it as a mouth. It was impossible to stare back into those monstrous red eyes. Glancing aside, I saw that the Factor was now supporting Frederick. The young heir had sagged against him, staring fixedly at the fearful apparition with terrifying own glazed eyes. The Factor sighed again and then spoke once more in that low voice,
‘You see before you,‘ he said; ‘Lady Susan Glanville. She was carried into this chamber and fettered to the wall in 1473. ‘
The thrill of horror coursed through me; I felt that we were in the presence of malign forces from the pit itself. The hideous thing appeared sexless, but the sound of its name, the ghastly mockery of a grin contorted with the puckered, red smeared mouth noticed for the first time that the monster actually was secured to the wall. The great double shackles were so blackened with age; I had not noticed them before
‘Tanceste.r.’ the Factor went on ‘Lady Glanville’ was a maternal ancestor of the Chikton Paynes. She had commerce with the Devil. She was condemned as a witch, but escaped the stake. Finally her own people forcibly overcame her. She was brought in here and left to die.’
The factor lowered his torch until its flame illuminated the floor at the foot of the stone bench where the vampirism monster was fettered. Strewn about the floor was the scattered bones of a skull of an adult male, red with fresh blood. And at the same distance were other human bones, brown and crumbling with age. At this point Frederick began to scream. His shrill, hysterical cries filled the chamber. Although the Factor shook him roughly, his terrible his terrible shrieks continued, terror- filled, and nerve – shaking. For moments the corpse-like thing on the bench watched him with its frightful red eyes it uttered sound, finally a kind of an animal squeal which might have been intended as laughter. Abruptly then, and without any warning, it slid from the bench and lunged towards the young Earl. The blackened shackles which fettered it to the wall permitted it to advance only a yard or two it was pulled back sharply; yet it lunged again and again squealing with a kind of hellish glee, which stirred the hair on my head. William Cowath ( the Factor) thrust his torch towards the monsters. But it continued to lunge at the end of its fetters. The nightmare room resounded with the Earl‘s screams and the creatures horrible squeals, best of all laughter. I felt that my own mind would give way unless i escape that afternoon of hell. For the first time during an ordeal which would have sent any lesser man fleeing for his life and sanity, the iron control of the Factor appeared to be shaken.
He looked beyond the wild lunging thing; towards the wall where the fetters were fastened I sensed what was on his mind. Would those fastenings hold after all those of centuries of rust and dampness? On a sudden resolve he reached into an inner pocket and drew out something that glittered in the torch light. It was a silver crucifix striding forward, he thrust it into the face of the twisted face of the leaping monstrosity which at one time was lavishing Lady Susan Glanville. The creature reeled back with an agonized scream, which drowned out the cries of the Earl. It cowered on the bench, abruptly silent and motionless, only the pulsating of its wizened mouth and the fires of hatred in it’s red eyes, giving evidence that it still lived.
William Cowarth addressed it grimly, creature of hell, ‘if you leave that bench we will quit this room and seal it once again, l swear that hold this cross against ye.’
The thing’s red eyes watched the factor with an expression of abysmal hatred. I suddenly became of the silence that had descended on that room of the dammed. lt it lasted only a few moments.The Earl had finally stopped screaming, but now came something worse. He began to laugh, lt was only a chuckle, but somehow worse then all his screams. It went on and on, softly, mindlessly. the factor turned beckoning me towards the partly demolished wall. Crossing the roam I climbed out. Behind me the Factor led the young Earl, who shuffled like an old man, chuckling to himself. There was then what seemed to be an interval during which the Factor carried back a sack of mortar and a keg of water which he had previously left in the tunnel, Working in torch light, he prepared the cement and proceeded to seal up the Chamber, using the same stones which he had displaced.
While the ‘Factor’ laboured, the young Earl sat motionless in the tunnel chuckling softly there was silence within, Once only, I heard the the thing’s fetters clank against the stone. At last the Factor finished and ted us back through those niter-stained passage-ways and up the icy stairs. The Earl could scarcely ascend with difficulty, the Factor supported him step to step. Back in his tapestry-paneled chamber, Frederick sat on his canopy bed and stared at the floor, laughing quietiy. With Horror,l I noticed that his black hair had actually turned grey. After persuading him to drink a glass of liquid which I had no doubt contained a heavy dose of sedative, the Factor managed to get him stretched out on the bed. William Cowath then led me to a nearby bed chamber. My impulse was to rush from that hellish pile without delay, But the storm still raged and I was by no means back to the village without a guide. The Factor shook his head and said;
‘Sadly l fear his Lordship is doomed to an early death. He was never strong and tonight’s event’s my have deranged his mind …… ..may have weakened him beyond hope of recovery. I expressed my sympathy and horror. The Factor’s cold blue eyes held my own.
‘Maybe,’ he said;
‘that in the event of the young Earl’s death, you yourself may be considered.’ He hesitated.
Might be considered, I wanted to hear no more I gave him a curt good night, bolted the door after him and tried-quite unsuccessfully – to salvage a few minutes sleep. But sleep would not come. I had feverish visions of the red eyed thing in the sealed chamber escaping it’s fetters breaking through the wall and climbing up those icy, slime —covered stairs. Even before dawn I softly unbolted my door, and like a marauding thief, crept shivering through the cold passageways, and the great deserted hall of the castle. Crossing the cobbled courtyards and the black moat, I scrambled down the incline towards the village. Long before noon I was on my way to London, luck was with me I was now on a boat bound for the Atlantic run.