Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Peele Castle

Peele CastleThe Isle of Man derives its name from the ancient British word mon, which means "isolated." Around this singular place there are many rocky islets, also isolated, and upon one of the most picturesque of these, where art and Nature have vied in adding strength to beauty, is built the castle of Peele, off the western coast, overlooking the distant shores of Ireland. This castle is perched upon a huge rock, rising for a great height out of the sea, and completely inaccessible, except by the approach which has been constructed on the side towards the Isle of Man, where the little town of Peele is located.

After crossing the arm of the sea separating the castle from the town, the visitor, landing at the foot of the rock, ascends about sixty steps, cut out of it, to the first wall, which is massive and high, and built of the old red sandstone in which the island abounds; the gates in this wall are of wood, curiously arched and carved, and four little watch-towers on the wall overlook the sea. Having entered, he mounts by another shorter stairway cut out of the rock to the second wall, built like the other, and both of them full of portholes for cannon. Passing through yet a third wall, there is found a broad plain upon the top of the rock, where stands the castle, surrounded by four churches, three almost entirely ruined; the other church (St. Germain's) is kept in some repair because it has within the bishop's chapel, while beneath is a horrible dungeon where the sea runs in and out through hollows of the rock with a continual roar; a steep and narrow stairway descends to the dungeon and burial-vaults, and within are thirteen pillars supporting the chapel above. Beware, if going down, of failing to count the pillars, for we are told that he who neglects this is sure to do something that will occasion his confinement in this dreadful dungeon.

This famous castle of Peele even in its partly-ruined state has several noble apartments, and here were located some of the most interesting scenes of Scott's novel of Peveril of the Peak. It was in former days a state-prison, and in it were at one time confined Warwick the King-maker, and also Gloucester's haughty wife, Eleanor; her discontented spectre was said to haunt the battlements in former years, and stand motionless beside one of the watch-towers, only disappearing when the cock crew or church-bell tolled: another apparition, a shaggy spaniel known as the Manthe Doog, also haunted the castle, particularly the guard-chamber, where the dog came and lay down at candlelight; the soldiers lost much of their terror by the frequency of the sight, but none of them liked to be left alone with him, though he did not molest them. The dog came out by a passage through the church where the soldiers had to go to deliver the keys to their captain, and for moral support they never went that way alone. One of the soldiers, we are told, on a certain night, "being much disguised in liquor" (for spirits of various kinds appear in the Isle of Man, as most other places), insisted upon going with the keys alone, and could not be dissuaded; he said he was determined to discover whether the apparition was dog or devil, and, snatching the keys, departed: soon there was a great noise, but none ventured to ascertain the cause. When the soldier returned he was speechless and horror-stricken, nor would he ever by word or sign tell what had happened to him, but soon died in agony; then the passage was walled up, and the Manthe Doog was never more seen at Castle Peele.

1 comment:

  1. This place is a very interesting spot in Englad. It holds many historic events under its name.