The figure of an old lady with a walking stick has mysteriously appeared in the background of a picture taken at a castle in Wiltshire.
Wilton resident Carol Earl came across the photo from her trip to Old Wardour Castle, near Tisbury, while looking through some discs during lockdown.
The snap, taken with a digital camera, dates back to summer 2007, when she and her daughter visited the castle for the first time.
When the picture was taken, Carol, who can be seen leaning against a wall, thought she’d be the only person in the photo.
But when she returned home, much to her surprise, it was clear there was something, or someone, in the background.
‘There was absolutely nobody there’
“I was quite surprised, quite excited,” she said.
“There was absolutely nobody there at the time, nobody walking by, nobody in the vicinity.
“Just myself and my daughter who took the picture, so I don’t know how it could have happened.”
Asked what she thinks the figure is, Carol said: “I don’t know, I have absolutely no idea.
“I kept it to myself and put it away with the other photographs but when I found it I thought ‘maybe someone will be interested to see it’.
“At the time I was a lot younger, I can see it’s a lady and she’s got a walking stick and glasses.”
An old lady near the lake?
According to a former English Heritage employee at the castle, Carol is not the first visitor to come across a mysterious apparition.
Other visitors had reported sightings of a ghostly old lady near the lake but staff never saw anything.
Former employee Martin Hasted said: “It always seemed pretty unhaunted to me but there was a story of a grey lady who had been seen walking down to the lake.
“People said it was potentially Lady Blanche Arundell who defended the castle during the Civil War.
“Although all of the staff had never seen or heard anything odd during their many years of walking around in the dark.
“It only ever seemed to be visitors reporting things!”
So the staff, the people who knew the site best, had never seen anything.
And those who doubt ghostly goings on may also point out the figure in Carol’s photo also looks more modern than Lady Arundell surely would have done.
What, then, did Carol’s camera pick up?
A trick of the light, or something more spiritual?
Plan to return to historic site
That trip 14 years ago was the first and only time Carol visited the castle.
“It was a lovely place, I don’t know much about the history but it was a lovely day,” she said.
“When we can go there again we will go back.”
According to English Heritage, Old Wardour Castle was built in the 14th century as a lightly fortified luxury residence for comfortable living and lavish entertainment.
During the English Civil War, the castle was besieged twice – first by Parliamentary forces trying to take it from Lady Arundell and then by Henry Arundell, her son, who in March 1644 retook it after blowing up one side of his own castle with a mine.
The English Heritage website added: “The ruined castle was later confiscated, after the final victory of the Parliamentarians in 1648 and the execution of Charles I in 1649.
“Henry eventually recovered his estates in 1660 when the monarchy was restored.
“Instead of rebuilding the castle, however, he built a smaller house, now known as Old Wardour House, just to the south (now privately owned).”
The castle was later the inspiration for the one featured in the Kevin Costner film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’.
The site is currently closed. It will reopen when restrictions are eased.
Get more Salisbury news.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.