Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Castle of Good Hope

The Goede Hoop or Castle of Good Hope is the oldest and largest of South Africa’s colonial buildings. 

The Dutch East India Company built it in the 7th century. It is located in Cape Town and was first occupied in 1674.
Castle of Good Hope

It was initially used as a replenishment station for ships passing through the treacherous waters near the cape. The castle's moat fills with water at high tide.

It contains an infamous dungeon known as the dark hole or Danker Gat. 

This chamber was used to torture prisoners. It was not unusual for these prisoners to drown, especially during winger floods, as they were chained to the dungeon's walls.

The first ghost noted at the castle was seen in 1915. This tall figure—a gentleman-- was seen on the castle’s battlements. The same man was observed for two short weeks again in 1947.

Battlements where the ghost is seen.
This ghost glowed and was seen leaping off one of the castle’s walls. He was then seen walking between the Leerdam and Oranje bastions. One witness reported seeing this figure leaning over a parapet, peering down on Darling Street.

Phantom footsteps have been heard along the battlements over the years.

Bell Tower
The old bell tower that overlooks the castle is also haunted. 

In the 1700s, a soldier was found hanging from a bell rope. After his death, this bell tower was sealed off. But witnesses since state they have heard one of the bells ringing at random times.

Some feel this haunting might be connected to the male ghost seen on the castle’s battlements.

Another famous ghost seen is known as the Lady in Grey. A female skeleton was unearthed at the old sally gates, during an excavation. It is believed these remains are connected to this ghost.

The Lady in Grey is seen holding her hands and crying hysterically as she runs through the castle.

One famous sighting of this ghost occurred in 1947, during a royal family tour. They were in Cape Town, celebrating Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday. Several members of this party, including Princess Margaret, saw this ghost.

This ghost is often seen today.

Lady Anne Barnard
Miniature by Cosway
The most romantic ghost at the castle is believed to be Lady Anne Barnard. She was a colorful character in the 18th century, who lived in the castle for five years. She married a man younger than herself—and was the colony’s first lady.

The Dolphin Pool, where she bathed, has been reconstructed from drawings she made of it. She was known to bathe nude. Her ghost has been seen in this area au naturel.

Her curly-headed ghost has been known to appear at parties, given at the castle to honor distinguished guests.

Other activity in the castle includes, lights going on and off in the dungeon area without cause. 

In the old guard room, both male and female voices are heard arguing. One evening, when this activity was investigated, a dark figure was spotted.

A ghostly black hound is seen at the castle as well. This dog has pounced on visitors, and then it vanishes from sight.

A curse connected to the castle, involves one former governor, Pieter Gijsbert van Noodt. In April of 1729, he unjustly sentenced seven soldiers to death for desertion. He overruled a court’s more lenient sentence.

One of these soldiers, a theological candidate—called for justice from the gallows. He demanded Noodt attend the hanging—he didn’t. So this man cursed him.

Later that day, van Noodt was found dead, slouched over his desk. It is said he had a “look of terror” on his face. He was buried in an unmarked grave—for no one wanted to bury him in sacred ground. It is said van Noodt haunts the castle to this day.

Read about Noodt's tyrannical governorship here.

Today the Castle of Good Hope is a museum, which houses the William Fehr collection of Africana.

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