Berkeley Castle - the ghost of Edward II
21st September 1327

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Edward II's reign was overshadowed in terms of achievement by those of both his father and his son. The defeat of his army at Bannockburn by the Scots left the north of England at the mercy of Scottish raiders and to many this was seen as an unconscionable sign of military weakness, unbefitting an English king. Worse than that, he was surrounded by dark suspicions around his sexuality. While he fathered five children to two women, the open favours he gave to two male courtiers - Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser led many, then and now, to assume that they were actually his gay lovers.

Eventually, he was arrested and forced to abdicate in favour of his son. He was imprisoned in various castles, but finally met his end in Berkeley Castle. According to legend, he was pinned between two mattresses and a red hot poker forced up his anus.

The room alleged to have been his cell - and the place where he met his death - is still shown to visitors to this day. On the anniversary of his death, it is said to echo to the sound of his dying screams.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 31st July 2013 | © Weird Island 2010-2018
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