KENILWORTH Castle is the setting for a new ghost story.
Author Kamila Shamsie’s short story Foreboding is one of the chilling tales penned by different authors which feature in Eight Ghosts – set at eight different English Heritage run sites.
Kamila said: “When I was 15, there was no historical figure who intrigued me more, and whom I read more about, than Elizabeth I – one of the most appealing parts of her story to an adolescent was, of course, the love story with the Earl of Leicester, in which Kenilworth Castle played such an important role.
“So when I saw the name of Kenilworth among all the English Heritage properties I might use as a setting for my ghost story there really wasn’t any question of even looking any further.”
Kamila saw the castle ruins as “like a bombed-out building” which made it the perfect backdrop for her tale of the castle’s night security guard, who has arrived in England from an unnamed war-torn country, and is facing the horrors of his past during a night in which the events may be real or imagined.
The author added: “I drew very much on the ghost stories that the English Heritage staff at Kenilworth told me – stories of voices from behind locked doors, presences felt in the kitchen.”
Her imagination was also fired by a specific architectural feature of the castle, which was partly destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1649 to prevent it being used as a military stronghold.
Kamila added: “I noticed that the guidebook kept referring to unusually large windows built into Kenilworth Castle through the centuries – it raised the question: did they want to let in the light or were they afraid of something in the dark?”
Kamila will be reading from her story at a special meet the author event at Kenilworth Castle on October 24. Visitors will also get the chance to experience a twilight tour. Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk to book and for full details.
Other tales in the book include Sarah Perry’s tale of possession at the Jacobean mansion Audley End House in Essex; Mark Haddon’s
post-apocalyptic The Bunker, drawing on the author’s visit to the York Cold War Bunker; and Jeannette Winterson’s story of love and loss at Pendennis Castle in Cornwall.
Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories – which also include an essay on the tradition of the English ghost story by Andrew Martin and a gazetter of those English Heritage sites with ghostly associations – is available now.