The spirit of Pevensey Castle, East Sussex
Lady Joan Pelham seemed like my kind of medieval heroine. The information sign within her realm of Pevensey Castle - that large, lovely ruin that now overlooks meadows where once the sea raged in its defence - suggested that this doughty girl held the fort until her husband and his troops could return to save it from destruction.
Joan was the wife of Sir John Pelham, constable of the castle under John of Gaunt and later a supporter of Henry Bolingbroke, who usurped the English throne from Richard II. This story has it that the castle was besieged by Richard's forces while Sir John was campaigning with Henry and that Lady Joan wrote an impassioned letter begging him to return and save the castle. Which of course he did.
However, I was quite disappointed to find that the official guidebook makes no mention of this incident, merely attributing the letter to Sir John himself asking Henry for assistance as the castle was under siege. Sir John was duly given Pevensey Castle by King Henry as a reward for his services.
Lady Joan gets the last laugh, though, as she's said to be the grey lady who haunts the castle to this day. With its outer Roman walls and the magnificent medieval keep within, if I were to choose somewhere to haunt I think Pevensey would be a strong candidate.
My own award for the last chuckle goes to one of the following: the man who went up to the ticket clerk and asked for 'a family and two extra adults, please' (I half expected her to produce one from under the counter); or the lady just outside the gate who, deep in discussion with her friend, pronounced loudly, 'I always dry-fry my nuts - it's the proper way!'
Well, if you'd like to visit Pevensey Castle then one of our East Sussex holiday cottages or coastal apartments would be the perfect base - click here to view our selection. And since you'll be self-catering, you are most welcome to sample the local food on offer at the many smashing country pubs in the area or cook your nuts however you wish. Bon vacances!