Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle 01

LOCATION: Oxford, England, UK

DATE BUILT: 1071

GRADE LISTED: Grade I

ORIGINAL PURPOSE: A Norman motte and bailey castle

OTHER USES: The castle became a jail and criminal court for Oxford during the 14th Century. After the English Civil War of 1642, Oxford Castle's primary role was the town prison and execution site.

PREVIOUS BUILDINGS ON THE SITE: There has been evidence of an ealier Anglo-Saxon habitation on the site. However, the Domesday Book shows no record of any demolition, which suggests the site was clear when the castle was built. However, houses may have been destroyed during the Norman seizure of the town. 

CLAIM TO FAME: In an article written by the BBC, Oxford Castle is home to Britain's 'most seen' ghost. That being of Empress Matilda, who stayed at the castle before her escape in 1142, when the castle was beseiged by her cousin King Stephen. She had returned to England in 1125 after the death of her husband, King Henry V. Being Stephen's rival to the thrown, when he attacked, she was forced to flee. 

 

INTERESTING FACTS: 

Oxford Castle Prison A Wing 1852 56 C IMG 6850

Many people met their death at Oxford Prison. But not many can say that they survived their execution. But Anne Greene did. She was a scullery maid at the manor house of Sir Thomas Reede. She bore a child after being raped by Reede's grandson. The child was stillborn, but Greene was arrested and charged with murder, despite medical evidence proving the contrary. On Decemeber 14th, 1650 Greene was hanged at Oxford Prison. She was pronounced dead by the prison doctor, and handed over to medical students for dissection. Before the students began their work, it was discovered that Anne had a faint pulse. After treatment, she made a full recovery and was pardoned of her punishment.

If you are brave enough to spend the night in a former cell, then why not book yourself into the Malmaison Oxford Castle. The fromer A Wing of the prison became a hotel in 2006. Malmaison translates to 'bad house. Gulp! 

 

GRIZZLY HISTORY: Oxford Castle is said to have been subject to its very own curse. A plague, known as The Black Assize of 1577, broke out after the trial of Rowland Jenke. He had both ears removed as a result of his 'injurious words against the Queen'. Jenke cursed the jury, the court and the city. At least three hundred people lost their lives as a result of the plague, or 'Oxford Castle Curse'.

Oxford Castle in 1832

 

DEATHS: Mary Blandy is one of the most well known prisoners of the castle. She was hanged on 6th April 1752 for poisoning her father with arsenic. In her defence, she claimed she thought she had bought a love potion to encourage her father to approve of her relationship with William Henry Cranstoun. She was found guilty but speculation around her innocence continued on into the 1800's. Thomas Hadden was one of the prisoners who didn't wait for impending sentence. He hanged himself in his cell on 16th July 1782 after being found guilty of robbing mail. These are just two stories of many. There have been more deaths at Oxford Castle, and the grounds it stands on, than we will ever know. From battles of the Norman Conquest, to deaths from poor prison conditions, executions, murders and suicide. 

RESIDENT GHOSTS:Mary Blandy

• Empress Matilda

• Mary Blandy See Image 

• A monk in the crypt known as 'Bernard'. Others say it is a darker energy in disguise.

 

REPORTED PARANORMAL ACTIVITY:

Audible: Footsteps heard. Suffling sounds. Screams and groans heard from empty cells. 

Visual: Full bodied apparitions. White mists seen.

Intelligent: -

Sensory: People report feelings of being watched and followed.

Poltergeist: Heavy doors opening on their own. Stones thrown at investigators. Items have been mysteriously damaged around the castle. 

Technological: -

 

HAUNTED HOTSPOTS: • Castle Mound - previous execution site • Prison cells • Crypt

 

TIMESPAN OF HAUNTINGS: There have been many reoprts of experiences over the past 100 years, at least. 

 

PHOTOS & VIDEOS OF INTEREST: 

  • Photographer: Keiron Brown
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EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS: 

"Whilst holding a vigil in the upper floor of the debtors prison area - I was relating what I was seeing/feeling - in this case a guard doing his rounds. we then (as a group) heard the heavy footfall on the concrete steps leading up from the ground floor, it sounded as a person wearing heavy boots. The door to the stair case was closed (it takes a little effort to close the door as it is an inch thick metal) to our surprise the door was flung open, and no one there - (physically) - the group were stood agasp."

Ian Doherty

INVESTIGATION FOOTAGE: Watch the investigations of those who have braved Oxford Castle for themselves.....