Thomas Skelton

(See also Muncaster Castle)

Thomas Skelton courtesy Vance PenningtonThomas Skelton is reputed to be the origin of the phrase ‘tom foolery’ and ‘tom fool’. He was a ‘fool’ or jester for Muncaster castle in the 1500s, and his ghost is said to haunt the castle. A painting of him hangs in one of the castle corridors.

Skelton was deemed to have an ‘evil’ side according to a legend which said that he sat under a chestnut tree by the castle door and directed travellers who asked for directions to London. But those he decided he didn't like, he sent to the marshlands and quicksands of the area instead of to the ford.

Another legend states that he was ordered by Sir Ferdinand Pennington, lord of the castle, to cut off the head of the local carpenter who was unwise enough to fall in love with Helwise, Sir Pennington's daughter.

Muncaster Castle
On the A595 near Ravenglass
Tel. 01229 717614
Fax. 01229 717010
Open: Gardens, Owl centre and Maze, 2nd week Feb-end Oct, daily, 10.30am-6pm (or dusk if earlier); Castle, 2nd week Feb-end Oct, Sun-Fri, noon-4.30pm, also every Sun in Dec; darkest Muncaster event, various dates in Oct, Nov, Dec, dusk-9pm (check website for exact days)

Note: Please check opening times and dates before visiting in case of changes.

Photo courtesy Vance Pennington

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