AUGILL CASTLE, BROUGH

CUMBRIA

Nestled under the Pennines where the rolling hills of Cumbria meet those of Yorkshire, Brough is a pretty village that sits on the edge of the A66, one of the most treacherous roads in the UK... but that’s a story for another day.

This story begins in the mid 1830’s, when brothers John and Alexander Peason from Kirkby Lonsdale become the beneficiaries of an inheritance in the village of Brough. To provide some background, John and his younger brother, Alexander, detested each other. Search their names and the opening line of every link will be about their bitter feuding and the rivalry between the two. Their resentment toward each other is the catalyst to this story and the spirit that lingers at Augill Castle to this day.

Back to the start of the story. Alexander, the younger of the two, inherited a farm on the outskirts of the village, and his older brother, John, received a generous amount of land, which overlooked the farm below. Incensed that Alexander had got the ‘better deal’ with a farmhouse, outbuildings, livestock and crops, John started to plan how he would use his land to out-do his younger brother.

As John’s land geographically dominated the skyline from Alexander’s farm, the plan was simple, he would build a monument on his newly acquired land that would put his little brother in his place. So began the construction of Augill Castle.

Described as a Victorian Folly Castle, Augill has imposing stone walls, towers and turrets, looking very much a grand and foreboding residence. Despite the incredible façade, what lay beyond the castle walls was rather more humble, in fact the ‘castle’ was built just one room deep. Its grandness is all at the front – designed to intimidate his younger brother. It’s what the French would call a tromp-d’œil, an image or structure designed to look significantly larger than it physically is. Vanity over practicality, one might say.

Jump forward to the 1990s and Augill Castle is in terrible condition. The current owners buy the dilapidated building and lovingly restore it to its former glory. Today, the castle is a popular boutique hotel and makes for a stunning wedding venue. It’s at a wedding in the summer 2018 that the following event happens.

Due to get married the following day, the bride arrives at Augill with her wedding party on the Friday evening. As she’s intrigued by the history of the place, upon checking in, she asks quite jokingly if there are any ghosts in the castle. The response is that there have been a few strange happenings, but not many people experience things here and they would rather not say where in the castle those things have happened in the past.

The wedding is a huge success and all of the guests have an amazing day. Shattered and a little tipsy, the guests make their way to nearby hotels and B&Bs, and the guests that are fortunate enough to be staying in one of Augill’s bedooms retire for the night.

On the Sunday morning, those guests that did stay at the castle make their way to breakfast. As the bride and groom make their way around their guests, thanking them for their attendance, the question of ‘did you have a good night’s sleep?’ arises. For two guests, the answer is ‘no, not great!’

The guests tell the bride that following a wonderful day and evening, they fell asleep as soon as their heads had touched the pillow. Then, at approximately 3:30am, they had heard a single loud click which woke them from their sleep. They would have thought nothing more of it and gone straight back to sleep, but the noise was followed by the sound of running water, which sounded like it was coming from their en-suite. Not thinking too much about it, the male guest, being on the closest side of the bed to the en-suite, steps out to investigate. As he flicks the bathroom light on and he’s shocked to see that the shower is running. He turns it off and heads back to the bedroom to ask his wife if she’d turned it on, as he steps from the en-site, his wife looks up from the bed to ask what was going on. Her husband’s frozen face is illuminated by the en-suite light, as is the rest of the bedroom. Her husband is staring toward the window. She follows his gaze to see a young woman, sat by the window, staring out to the farmland that resides below the castle. Within five second, the guests watch her fade away to nothing. As shocked as they are by the shower and then seeing the ghost in the window, neither of them feel frightened or threatened. It takes a couple of hours, but eventually they go back to sleep and then relay the story to the bride at breakfast.

Upon checking out at reception, the bride is asked ‘so, did you or any of guests experience anything unusual?’ To which the bride says ‘well, as you ask…’ and then repeats the story she has just been told. When it’s confirmed which room the guests were staying in, the hotelier nods and says, ‘yes, that’s the only room where we see her’.

As for the young woman seen at the window, back in the 1800s, she was a maid at the castle. John, ‘the lord of the manor’, had been attracted to her, so offered her a job in the hope that it would lead to a little more. She, however, was having none of it as she was madly in love with another – John’s younger brother, Alexander. After John’s rejected advances one evening and the discovery of her love for his brother, fuelled by envy and rage, it is said that John brought a premature end to the young lady’s life.

If you believe these things, it’s said that to this day, the young woman sits at the bedroom window, looking down onto the farm for a glimpse of her beloved Alexander, a love that cost her her life.

The aforementioned bride relayed this story to me.

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