Tom The Fool (real name Tom Skelton) was a jester in the castle at the end of the 16th Century - reputedly the last court jester in English history. A friend of William Shakespeare, he was by all accounts a dark character responsible for a number of deaths during his time at Muncaster, not merely the murder of the carpenter at Sir Ferdinand Pennington's orders. One of his ideas of a "joke" was directing anyone asking him for directions to Ravenglass towards the hidden quicksand and bog marsh by the River Esk rather than the ford - some realised in time, many did not and were never seen again.
Present owners of Muncaster, Phyllada and Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington, believe Tom still keeps a watchful eye on the castle, and occasionally gets up to more sinister mischief. Most of the ghostly goings on are attributed to this fiendish fool, but with several other ghosts at Muncaster any of them could be responsible.
His portrait still hangs in the Castle, which contains his Will. Skelton died around 1600, according to legend in the very marshes where he'd sent so many to their deaths when trying to return to the castle whilst drunk.
The castle still has a special day called 'Tom Fool's day', which is a family fun day with various attractions.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This, from Wikipedia, is pretty funny: