kissed the girls and made them cry.
Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Helmsley Castle has stood on this site for over 900 years. During this time, it's belonged to many a Lord, Earl and Baron – even Richard III for a period. It has also seen its share of trials and tribulations.
During the English Civil War, the Castle was used to garrison Royalist troops. In 1644, Parliamentarians attacked the castle, but unable to penetrate its walls, they decided upon an alternative tactic. For three months the Roundheads held a blockade, cutting off all supplies to the castle.
Many of the stationed Cavilers refused to surrender in fear of torture or execution. As a result, most died of starvation, some of fever - the rest, too weak to fight, were eventually butchered by Cromwell’s men.
16 years later, with the monarchy restored to England, the castle was gifted to George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, for his support in the Royalist fight. The Duke was quite a character – he was the antagonist to the first (and last) stand up brawl in the House of Lords and he had a keen eye for the ladies – especially other men’s wives. In later life the Duke was immortalised in the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,’ who as we all know, ‘kissed the girls and made them cry’.
The Duke met his demise when he caught a chill whilst hunting one day. Unable to make it back to the castle; he died in a pauper’s bed in Kirkbymoorside. His final words, a testament to the life he had led - “Despised by my county and I fear forsaken by God”. But many do not believe that that was the end of Georgie Porgie. Or indeed the girls that he made cry.
There have been numerous sightings of two particular ghosts at the castle. Firstly, there is the figure of a soldier in full Royalist uniform that is frequently seen sitting on the battlements – always looking pitiful. The ghost of a starved Cavalier from the 1644 blockade? The uniform would certainly suggest so.
Secondly, the Green Lady - so-called due to her long flowing green silk dress. Many visitors have seen this spectre near the castles Keep. There have also been a number of accounts where visitors have felt someone brush past them and heard the rustle of silk as they swept by. When looking to see who had made contact, all accounts state that there has been no one to be seen. Could the Green Lady be one of the girls that Georgie made cry?
And then there is the third ghost. A spirit that refuses to be seen. In 2006, English Heritage (who own the castle) asked a team of paranormal investigators to spend two nights at the site following a number of complaints from visitors that had been hit by stones – thrown by an unseen force. During the investigation, the team recorded mysterious flashing lights, trigger objects being moved and true to form, a bombardment of stones being hurled at them… but not a soul was to be seen.
When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.
Image by Spectral Isle.