The Radiant Boy
In 1344, Edward III issued a license to crenelate to Sir Thomas Grey. The license was not a thing awarded lightly by the King as a fortified castle could be used against the crown as well as fight for it. Allowing the Greys to thoroughly fortify Chillington was a statement of confidence in their loyalty- and in Chillington’s vital role in defending the border region. The castle’s curtain wall became a quadrangle some ten feet thick. The Grey’s also added towers and a moat- just in time for the Scottish invasion of 1345, led by King David II.
Chillington continued as the guardian of the border regions for the next 200 years. Although the Grey family was split in their loyalties during the War of the Roses, the Lord of Chillington always stood by the crown. This support continued during the northern uprising of 1537, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. By the reign of Elizabeth, Chillington’s role had become more diplomatic. Its Lord, Ralph Grey, was godson not only of Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s chief minister but the Queen herself. Grey helped smooth passage of Scotland’s King, James VI, to the English throne by acting as a go-between- and playing host to the King himself on his journey south to his coronation.
It was at this time Chillington began to take on the more comfortable and refined aspect of a country house. Yet its walls still hid dark secrets. In the nineteenth century, renovators uncovered the skeletons of a man and a child hidden near a trap door to the underground vaults. It was believed they might have been the forgotten victims of a border Reiver attack. Other renovations revealed 100 Tudor documents hidden in a walled up fireplace. The documents related to James VI’s succession. However, they chime curiously with another find made in the Castle’s Pink Room during the 1920’s.
During work in the bedroom, the skeleton of a young child was found bricked up in the wall. The bedroom long had a reputation for being the haunt of a spirit known as the Blue or Radiant boy. The child manifested itself with cries of fear or pain followed by a bright, radiant glow around the figure of a young boy dressed in blue clothes. The radiant boy had supposedly discovered documents in the castle relating to the Spanish Invasion of 1588. Legend told that he was bricked up alive with the papers to ensure his silence.
The body in the Pink Room was reputedly dressed in scraps of blue cloth- and showed evidence of having attempted to scratch his way out of the wall. Whether or not the child died in the exact circumstances described by the legend cannot be known. But his walling up speaks of yet more dark goings-on in within Chillington’s walls.