Standing majestically behind the square boundary of the Durham County Cricket Club's Riverside Ground is the imposing Lumley Castle. The wonderful 600-year-old piece of medieval architecture is now a plush hotel, a favourite venue for marriages and functions among the locals.
With the stadium a 5-minute walk, it is ideal for visiting cricket teams. But not many prefer to stay here. The Indian team is staying in Durham, which is 4-5 miles away. For all its old world charm and grandeur, local lore has it that the castle is haunted. For those who fear the supernatural, it can be unnerving.
“The Indian team stayed here when they came to play the ODI in 2002. When it was time to come here, the first thing Rahul Dravid, who was part of the 2002 team along with Tendulkar, checked was whether we were staying at the haunted hotel,” a member of the team management said.
In 2005, there were reports the Australian cricket team were haunted during their stay at the castle. Shane Watson got so spooked he slept on the floor of Brett Lee’s room.
Australia are not the only team to have been left shaking in fear. In 2000, three West Indies team members checked out of the hotel because they were scared. Nathan, who has been part of the hotel staff since 2006, says apart from cricket teams, Manchester United used to stay there for matches against Sunderland and Newscastle. There haven't been reports of any Man U players shrieking but they haven't stayed there since 2009. The castle has creaky floors, a dungeon, and a well where Lily of Lumley, wife of the castle’s creator Ralph Lumley, is said to have been murdered and where her ghost is believed to reside. “I haven't seen any ghost but some visitors have said they heard strange noises; others say they saw figures and some have seen shadows behind them. Several Aussie cricketers were uneasy and preferred to spend most of their time in the open courtyard,” says Nathan.
“The national teams have not stayed since the Aussies did, but the incident was a big hype with a lot of fans asking about it. This place was a favourite of ex-England manager, the late Bobby Robson, who would enjoy his Sunday lunches and a lot his evenings here.”