SOMETHING MISTY THIS WAY WALKS
Set against a spectacular backdrop and surrounded by the most complete Roman Walls in Northern Europe, the prodigious keep of Portchester Castle towers over the northern extremity of Portsmouth harbour, a solid symbol of power with an eventful and chequered past.
Originally a Roman fort, Porchester Castle was constantly added to over the centuries and its impressive keep was probably raised in the 12th-century.
King John often stayed here; the ill-fated Edward 11 visited several times; Edward 111 used Porchester Castle as a base whilst assembling his army that would sail for France and victory at Crecy.
Following the peacemaking marriage of Richard 11 to Isabella, the seven-year old daughter of the King of France, a Royal Palace in miniature was constructed within the old walls.
Then, in 1415, Portchester Castle was the scene of another grand departure, as Henry V set off for his great victory at Agincourt.
Thereafter, the fortress declined in importance, and by the 18th century, its sole use was as a prison, in which capacity it was filled to bursting during the Napoleonic Wars when 5,000 French prisoners were crammed into its solid bulk.
By May 1814, the prisoners were gone and the castle was allowed to fall into decay.
Today the sheer magnitude of what remains is sufficient to set the imagination soaring into wild flights of historical fancy.
These are aided by a number past residents who occasionally return to the ruin in spirit form.
The misty shade of "something tall and whitish" is just one of the apparitions seen here.
A ghostly monk, who walks along the castle front, fading slowly into nothingness as he goes, is another.
Finally, there is the melancholic dark haired woman, whose fleeting phantom has been seen bending over a grave by the 12th-century church inside the castle grounds.