One of South Africa’s oldest colonial buildings, the Castle of Good Hope was constructed in the 17th century. Originally built to help replenish ships sailing through the Cape and protect local settlers, it was converted into a prison during the Second Boer War between 1899 and 1902.
The castle is now home to several spirit residents – many who have been tortured and executed on its grounds.
If you love to bump into spooks, you might just meet one of the Castle of Good Hope ghosts when you visit.
The Cursed Governor
A former governor in the 1720’s, Pieter Gysbert Van Noodt was famous for his cruel punishments for soldiers who dared to disobey him. The governor sentenced seven soldiers to death for deserting the military, overturning a more lenient, official sentence by the council.
It is said that one of the soldiers cursed Van Noodt with his final breath as he stood on the gallows.
Later that fateful day, the governor was found dead slumped in his chair, which is on display at the Koopmans-De Wet Museum exhibit.
Today, the ghost of Van Noodt has been heard cursing under his breath while walking around the castle grounds. Perhaps it is a little too late to regret his harsh sentence.
The First Lady
Lady Anne Barne is another regular spirit who lived in the castle as its First Lady in the late 18th century. Turning one of the large halls into a ballroom to entertain special guests and dignitaries in the old days, the curly-haired ghost of Lady Anne still pops up uninvited at parties with important visitors now.
This is one strong spirit who takes her duty as a hostess seriously.
Ghost hunters may also find the Lady’s ghost in the secluded Dolphin Pool, where Lady Anne enjoyed her leisurely bathes when she was alive.
Leaving her mark, Lady Anne hung a cursed painting above the fireplace in her drawing room. The beautiful painting of peacocks in a garden can fool anyone into thinking that it is harmless, but it is now covered with a cloth as it is said that anyone who moves it will die.
Ghost of The Bell
A soldier who committed suicide by hanging himself on the bell-rope can still be heard today. Even though the Bell Tower has been walled up since the soldiers’ death, the bell can still be heard ringing by itself.
Some link this soldier’s spirit to the two meter or 6.5 foot ghost who walks between the Leerdam and Oranje bastions on the castle grounds.
The Lady in Grey
Not to be confused with Lady Anne, the other womanly spirit who haunts the castle is connected with a skeleton found near one of the castle’s old gates.
First spotted in 1860 by a young woman, the Lady in Grey was dressed in a long grey cloak and was often found crying while covering her face.
Recognized by her grey hood, this spectre was seen by several people in 1947 including the royal family member, Princess Margaret. The Lady in Grey has not been seen since her bones were found, may her spirit rest in peace.
Don’t be alarmed if you come across a large, dark hound in the castle grounds. The ghost of the black dog is all bark and no bite, and has been known to leap at visitors before disappearing just inches away.
Visitors can hear voices and footsteps along narrow corridors and the windowless dungeon that used to be a torture chamber. Also known as the ‘Donker Gat’ or dark hole, prisoners chained to the dungeon walls were at the mercy of sea.
Strong waves would lap up and flood the dungeons, drowning them in seconds. You can imagine their angry spirits still haunting the castle as they were left with no chances of survival.
Convicts, rebellious natives and escaped slaves were regularly executed within the castle grounds – adding to the spirit community.
A ghostly couple is often seen quarrelling in the front courtyard just beyond the gate, although they vanish from sight when anyone approaches.
The lights in the Buren bastion are often switched on and off, no doubt by the ghosts who want to make their presence known.
The Castle of Good Hope ghosts are still haunting the pentagon-shaped building today, so be careful when you next pay a visit to one of the most haunted buildings in the world.