Kenilworth Castle inspires author to write chilling ghost story

Kamila Shamsie was inspired to write her story after visiting Kenilworth Castle
Kamila Shamsie was inspired to write her story after visiting Kenilworth Castle

An author has penned a ghost story set inside the walls of Kenilworth Castle after being inspired during a visit to the historic site.

Kamila Shamsie, originally from Pakistan, was approached by English Heritage to write a story set in one of their castles.

And she jumped at the chance to write a story set in Kenilworth Castle due to her fascination with Elizabeth I as a teenager as well as the Walter Scott novel Kenilworth.

Her story will feature in a collection entitled Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories.

Kamila said: “When I was 15, there was no historical figure who intrigued me more, and whom I read more about, than Elizabeth I.

“One of the most appealing parts of her story to an adolescent was, of course, the love story with the Earl of Leicester, in which Kenilworth Castle played such an important role.

“So when I saw the name of Kenilworth among all the English Heritage properties I might use as a setting for my ghost story there really wasn’t any question of even looking any further.”

Kamila visited the castle for the first time earlier this summer for inspiration.

She said: “I went without really knowing what was there. I went in through the gatehouse, which was a really lovely surprise.

“The ruins themselves have a great ghostly feel about them. It was fascinating.”

While there, she asked some of the workers if there had been any ghost sightings at the castle.

They told her about a few unexplained events, such as the ‘smell of burning’ in the same place, and reports of a man wearing clothes from another century seen at night.

Kamila used this and more to write her story, which focuses on a refugee coming over to work as a night guard at the castle, and whether the ghosts that haunted him in his homeland will do so in Kenilworth.

She will be appearing at the castle on Tuesday October 24 to read extracts from her story and a tour of the castle with her at dusk.

Bronwen Riley, head of content at English Heritage, said: “The castles and stately homes of England have long inspired ghostly myths and legends.

“We wanted to challenge today’s writers to use these buildings and come up with a new twist on the English ghost story. Our writers have risen to this challenge magnificently.”

Tickets for the reading cost £36, which includes a copy of the book and light refreshments. Call 0370 333 1183 to book.