By: Danny Rigg …..
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! has returned to the ruined Gwrych Castle overlooking the coastal North Wales town of Abergele as the Covid-19 pandemic prevents a trip to the Australian bush for a second year running.
Celebrities including broadcasters Louise Minchin and Richard Madeley, Olympic gold medallist Matty Lee, and Emmerdale star Danny Miller are among the celebs taking part in this year’s series.
The viewers may be glad to hear that trials will be much closer in scale to those in Australia.
What they may not know is that there is a real-life tragedy behind the creepy castle.
The castle was asset-stripped around 1990 after changing ownership several times, and it was vandalized in the following years as the property fell into ruin.
It was eventually bought in 2018 by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, headed by historian Dr. Mark Baker, and, following some restoration had rooms used by writing groups and its formal gardens opened to the public before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Now, for the second year in a row, the castle has been temporarily transformed for the ITV reality show.
But celebs living and sleeping inside the ruined building will want to keep an eye out for the Countess of Dundonald, Winifred Cochrane, who is said to haunt the castle at night in fury at her tyrannical husband, according to the Mirror.
The wealth heiress’ fury was sparked in death,
She tried to leave her castle to King George V upon her death in 1924, ending 1,000 years of private ownership, but her gift was refused and put to auction.
Her husband, Douglas Cochrane, 12th Earl of Dundonald, then sold all her possessions so he could buy the castle for himself.
Now the fuming Countess returns each night due to her husband’s betrayal.
Her haunting is said to have caused a stir among the ITV crew working in North Wales during filming for last year’s series.
Presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly noticed some bizarre goings-on themselves in the castle’s dungeon crypt.
Ant spotted something in the distance and jokingly started to run away as he clutched his chest while filming an Instagram video in the trial area.
Panting, Ant said: “It was the woman from props. It wasn’t the Countess.
Dec added: “Sorry, someone’s put the willies up us. Which was an experience in itself.”
But the Countess isn’t alone in terrorizing the castle grounds.
Workers claim to have experienced the presence of an old gamekeeper, a distressed dairymaid, and a butler, while some locals believe the spirit of a servant girl who died falling off a horse haunts the land.
Even the tyrannical Earl of Dundonald himself is said to creep along the castle corridors.
Guests take part in monthly ghost hunts in Gwrych Castle, where real-life ghost encounters by staff and visitors are said to be commonplace.
The Countess’s Tower sat in the gardens, which are said to be haunted by the Countess herself, is one of the most paranormally active areas in the castle, according to the castle’s website.
In September 2018, a volunteer was flung up the stairs on the staircase where a butler had met his end.
Jenny said: “The handrail gave way to nothingness and I felt something propel me up the top three stairs.”
She added: “Seconds later, my colleague told me the butler died right there on that same staircase. I hadn’t told her what just happened!”
Graham Jones once heard the sounds of a horse snorting and clopping on the cobbles behind him while walking home from the castle, but there was nothing there.
This was one of many spooky encounters he had on the castle grounds.
Speaking of another experience, Graham told the BBC: “After the siege show, the castle’s manager asked me to get a flag pole on the roof.
“I went up to do it, out through a little doorway in the roof and there was an old woman sitting on the floor.
“She snapped ‘You can’t go this way!’ so I went the other way and somehow she got there before me. She kept saying ‘You’re not allowed up here!’.
“When I got back I asked the manager about the old lady and he said ‘What old lady?’.”
He later saw the mystery lady in an old, black and white photograph of the castle’s former staff, a photo so old that she would have died long before his encounter on the castle roof.