Travel to the north eastern coast of England, and you will find Alnwick Castle. The building of this mammoth structure began in 1096 and was completed in 1136, after the Norman conquest of the region. The home to the Duke of Northumberland, it was the second largest inhabited castle in England. But the Duke and his family are not the most interesting of the castle’s residents. Somewhere within the many rooms and chambers, there is the domain of one of England’s oldest vampires, the Alnwick Castle Vampire.
Medieval historian William of Newburgh was well-respected and of great importance during the 12th century. William wrote extensively on vampires, the reanimated dead and included occultism and folklore into his historical accounts of the castle. For the next several centuries, William became a trusted source, cited in the works of writers researching real life occurrences of the dead returning to life and specifically vampires.
William was the first to chronicle the tale of the Alnwick Vampire when he wrote HISTORIA RERUM ANGLICARUM in the late 12th century. According to William’s account, the Alnick Vampire was the reanimated corpse of the Lord of the Estate. The vampire began his life as a man who caught his wife in bed with another. Her tryst was uncovered when this future vampire was seated on top of the castle while his wife was in congress with another man in the room below. During the act, the roof gave-way, and the man fell through landing hard on the floor below. The wife immediately took to caring for her now-severely-injured husband. His wife declared herself innocent and claimed that his suspicions were just the result of his terrible fall. He was so preoccupied with the trying to piece together what he saw and whether or not his wife was actually unfaithful, that on his death bed he forgot to confess his sins and therefore died unrepentant. From that point on, he was cursed to walk the earth an injured, and now hunchbacked, vampire.
At night, this hunchback would rise up from the tunnels beneath the castle which he inhabited and wander the grounds of the estate looking for victims. On some nights, he would go into town and cause terror. It should be stated here that during this time the plague had come to Alnwick and was doing a swift number on the population.
Many blamed this recent arrival of death on the vampire stating that the plague victims were actually just victims of the vampire. It wasn’t until one Palm Sunday when a local priest assembled a posse and went out with torches, shovels, and pitchforks to dig up the supposed vampire’s bones. That night the remains were removed from their burial site, taken to town, and burned.
For a long while the curse seemed to be lifted. However, some have claimed that this evil specter still haunts the grounds and still gets the blame for all of the town and castle’s misfortunes. The current Duke and his family still reside in a portion of the castle. But for those of you who would like to find out if the castle’s other inhabitant still lives there, the castle offers tours throughout the summer.