Dutch ghost stories: Haunted castles
The Netherlands and the netherworld are more closely connected than you may think! The Netherlands has quite a few old castles and buildings, each with a history that goes back ages. Some of these structures have spooky stories to tell. So, let's explore them and get into the Halloween spirit!
Haunted castles in the Netherlands
This edition of Dutch ghost stories presents some tales about Dutch castles that were said to be hotspots for hauntings:
Faust’s home, castle Waardenburg
Faust is famous because of the story by Goethe, based on a German legend. However, few know that this character really existed. Johann Georg Faust was born in Germany around 1480. It was said that he preyed on his young male students and that he practised magic and alchemy.
His habits and different way of thinking resulted in the story that he had sold his soul for idle pleasure. The devil would be his servant for seven years and help him with his experiments. Faust is thought to have died in an explosion, caused by his own experiments. Some decided that this was the work of the devil, who had come to collect his soul.
Where Faust died is unclear, but in Dutch stories, it was Castle Waardenburg where he met his fate. At the top of the tower is a window with ancient bloodstains on the sides of the frame. It is said that this is where the devil dragged Faust away, and the place still feels like something remains to lurk there forever.
Whether Faust really lived in Waardenburg is not clear, but it is known that he spent some time in the Netherlands, and a very old Leeuwarden tale that the castle’s lord sold his soul to the devil existed long before the Faust legend became popular.
The walled-in nun of Singraven
The Singraven estate functioned as a convent for about 10 years around the 1500s. During this time, a nun was found guilty of interacting with the villagers and being unchaste. After a mock trial, she was put behind a wall of the convent as punishment. For days, the other nuns could hear her scream and moan, until she finally went quiet. But peace never returned.
The nun would appear above the splashing water of the moat’s watermill, and her spirit was said to bring bad luck to Singraven’s residents. This was true even after more than 300 years, when a man who lived there tried to light a cigar after dinner, tripped over an oil lamp, set himself on fire and burned to death.
To this day, the nun is sometimes seen as a pale, shapeless mist, or appearing behind a window of the Singraven estate. This legend gave the building the nickname "The Black House".
The rabid hunter of Castle Rechteren
Castle Rechteren has a room that no one dares enter, not even its residents. The key is right there in the lock, but it doesn’t get turned. There are probably precious antiques and religious robes located in the room, but still, people avoid it.
A long time ago, a local hunter was bitten by a rabid hound and he lost his mind. They lured him into that room and locked the door. People could hear him roar manically for days. Now, it’s silent as the grave and that’s why no one enters that room today, out of fear that the ghost of the rabid hunter will come storming out.
The vicious maiden of Grunsfoort
At Castle Grunsfoort, near Renkum, lived a nasty maiden. Even as a child, she was so vicious that she bit the midwife on the thumb when she was baptised. She made her servants sew silken white carpets to cover the ground wherever she went in town because she didn’t want to soil her shoes. She avoided the cemetery like the plague because she thought it was unclean. Even when her parents died, she refused to go.
In time, she died alone and was buried at the cemetery. Or so people thought, but the next day people saw crows circle the cemetery, and they found the woman’s coffin up on the ground, body and all. They buried her again and weighed her down with a heavy stone. The next morning, the coffin was right back up on the ground.
A local witch told the villagers that it was the maiden's own fault for avoiding the cemetery in life, so now she was banned from the place. They placed the coffin on a dung cart and chased the horse out of town. After a while, it fell off into a brook near the castle and everyone just left it there. It is said at night, when the moon shines and the water turns as white as a silken carpet, the maiden is seen walking over the brook, and she brings misery to all who come near her.
The dancing girl of the Grubbervorst ruins
The castle ruins of Grubbenvorst, by the Maas River, have been around for a very long time. One night, around the end of the 16th century, a young nobleman caught his beloved rowing over the Maas River with another man. When they came to shore and the nobleman confronted them, the other man killed him by pushing him into the recesses of the ruins. Before he died, the nobleman cursed the girl, promising her she would never find rest and that her spirit would be trapped by the ruins.
The girl was so shocked that she died three days later from a heavy fever. Now, the Grubbenvorst ruins are haunted by a spirit in a white shroud. The legend says that when a man walks by at night, the spirit will grab him by the arms and force him to dance with her until he dies of terror.
Halloween in the Netherlands
Halloween is right around the corner! What will you be doing this year? Make sure you check our events page for some spooky, fun things to do. Oh, and if you know any haunted castle stories, let us know in the comments below.
Want to indulge in more spooky stories? Check out the other articles in this series:
› Dutch ghost stories: Witches and wenches
› Dutch ghost stories: Spirits and apparitions
› Dutch ghost stories: Ghost ships