Haunting Christmas tales at Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle.
Lancaster Castle.

Lancaster Castle’s ancient walls will echo to the sounds of ghostly goings on when a haunting festive event comes to the city.

The acclaimed writers’ collective ‘Curious Tales’ is bringing its latest work to the historic castle, the scene of the infamous Lancashire Witch Trials, as part of a winter tour of festive, ghostly performances across the North West.

The limited edition book sees seven contemporary writers uphold the tradition of the Christmas ghost story, bringing an anthology of brand new chilling tales for winter - including one by the Booker-shortlisted writer Alison Moore, and another by Lancaster University lecturer Jenn Ashworth.

The spooky stories take seemingly commonplace occurrences and unlock a hidden seam of menace and chaos, where the spectral and the subconscious become indistinguishable, and where the living break bread with the dead.

As the latest part of the festive tour, four of the stories in the anthology will be performed by their authors in atmospheric rooms and haunted dungeons of Lancaster’s historic castle, in what promises to be the most theatrical and haunting performance to date.

Audiences can listen to a tale about poltergeists in the infamous Drop Room, where they can see the old execution stage – the site of over 200 hangings.

They can also hear a story about war time grief and letters from beyond the grave in Hadrian’s Tower and experience the macabre tale of the Spite House in the castle’s Gothic criminal court, which is still used as a court today.

Jenn Ashworth said: “We’re really excited about the festive tour and particularly the Lancaster Castle date, which is the nearest event to Christmas.

“Given the setting, it promises to be our most atmospheric performance of the winter tour and it’s certain to send shivers down the spines of the audience.

“These are one-of-a-kind events, with no two being the same. It’s fun and often it’s very scary, it’s the halfway point between Jackanory and a séance, if you will.”

She explained: “Curious Tales is a collective of authors that publishes stories of the supernatural, the uncanny and ones that use landscape in interesting ways.

“We also pride ourselves on using our original fiction and artwork to produce limited edition, beautifully-designed print-only books, which include bespoke artwork and cover design by the landscape artist Beth Ward.”

Jenn continued: “As a group, we enjoy giving theatrical performance events and we also develop digital projects and interactive fiction.

“The reaction to our winter North West tour has been fantastic so far and we’re really looking forward to a haunting welcome at our next event in Lancaster.”

As well as Jenn, there will be readings from fellow collective members Richard Hirst, Tom Fletcher and Booker-shortlisted Alison Moore.

The performance will take place on December 19, to find out more about the work of ‘Curious Tales’, visit www.curious-tales.com.