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Gallery 1 > North-East of England > Lumley Castle, Chester-Le-Street

It is named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas. By the nineteenth century, the castle had become the residence of the Bishop of Durham, after Bishop Van Mildert gave his residence of Durham Castle to the newly founded University of Durham.


The castle is believed to be one of the most haunted places in County Durham, which includes a story about a woman named Lily Lumley who married Ralph Lumley. In reality, the said Ralph de Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (c. 1360 – January 1400) was married to Eleanor Neville. But in a tale called The Lily of Lumley he has a previous wife. She was supposedly thrown down a well in the castle grounds by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith, who then told Baron Lumley she left him to become a nun. Her ghost is said to float up from the well and haunts the castle. A contemporary romance of Medieval times, the tale was based on a legend of a lady of Lumley who was murdered. This woman is not identified in family pedigrees. Nevertheless, in 2000 and 2005, visiting cricketers staying at the castle claimed to have witnessed paranormal activity. Several members of the 2005 Australian tour party recounted the strong effect its reputation and setting had on them.

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