Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Legend Of Robert Skelton: "The Cauld Lad of Hylton"

The Legend Of Robert Skelton

"The Cauld Lad of Hylton"

What happened in the Hylton Castle in Sunderland England, will forever remain a mystery. The Castle is but a shadow of its former self, a ruin, attracting tourists and ghost hunters from across the globe.
There are rumours of a haunting by an elf, a barghest, a brownie and a poltergeist. They all may exist, they all may exist in this location, but almost all the actions of the spirits in this location are locally attributed to one spectre “The Cauld Lad of Hylton”, Robert Skelton.

The origins and stories of the murdered stable boy are varied, it is thought he lived sometime in the 16th century, with the ghost story arising sometime soon afterwards.
One interpretation of the legend states that Robert, a stable boy, was caught by Baron Robert Hylton courting his precious daughter and that the Baron being so angered that a lowly stable-boy could ever think of offering his affections to his daughter, killed the boy.

Another of the legends has a different take on happenings, in this version it is stated that the boy overslept, and had not prepared the Baron's horse in time for him to leave for a very important engagement. The Baron, angered by the boy's insolence and neglect of his duties, killed the boy.

There are varying details on how Baron Hylton ended the life of Robert Skelton, depending on the storyteller. You may hear that the Baron decapitated the boy with his sword, or you may hear that Robert was hit repeatedly with a riding crop across his head, fatally wounding the boy. There is also the version, that, in his angered state, the Baron reached for whatever was near to strike the boy down, grabbing a pitchfork that was sitting nearby, and instead of hitting the young lad, impaled him upon the fork.

The rumours of ways in which Robert was murdered differ greatly, but the way in which the body was disposed of does not. It is said the Baron disposed of the remains of Robert Skelton by dropping his body down the shaft of a used well on the property.
It is here that the stories, of which the variations lead to legends, become facts. Several months after the boy died, his body was recovered. The Baron was tried for murder, but an old estate farmer, one of the Baron's workers, came forward telling the court that the boy had ordered the Baron to get some tools from a high shelf in a barn, the boy had slipped, fell and mortally wounded himself in doing so. The Baron, being the good man he was, tended to the boy's wounds, but the poor young chap died. Baron Robert Hylton was pardoned of the crime in 1609.
Was the court corrupt?
Was the farmer corrupted?
 It is hard to know in this day and age, as records are not going to state such things, but you can guess at what a local court would rule against a man in their village with such high standing, against a boy with such low standing.

After the trial of the Baron, strange events began to occur in his castle. Kitchen staff would tidy their kitchen, and ready it for the morning, only to find in the morning, the kitchen to be messy again, and, if they didn't clean it, the next morning it would be clean!
Other stories of an “unseen” person taking hot ashes from the stove fires, and placing them on the ground, then laying on them, and leaving a body imprint in the hot ashes are also told.
Chamber pots around the castle would be upturned, spilling their contents onto the floors.

Intrigued as to what was going on, legend has it that one of the kitchen staff stayed up one night in the kitchen, awaiting the phantom causing so much trouble. He saw the ghost of a young naked boy enter the room, crying to himself “I'm Cauld" (I am cold ).
The next night, the kitchen staff left an old cloak in the kitchen for the naked boy ghost. It is said a voice was heard through the castle,
“Here's a cloak and here's a hood, the Cauld Lad of Hylton will do no more good”.

It is said that after the voice was heard, the mysterious ghostly goings-on at the castle came to a halt.

Or did it?

To this day, people speak of hearing a young boy's hallowed cries within the castle walls, eerily coming from nowhere, but seemingly from everywhere....does Robert still haunt the old ruins, seeking the justice that was never served for his death?

What do you think?
Comment below!

Researched and Written by
Allen Tiller

As a supplement to the above story, here is a little production out of England about 
"The Cauld Lad of Hylton"

1 comment:

  1. I have always had a great interest in this story as I had a late aunt who put alot of time and committment into the family heritage of Robert Hylton. The story that was passed to me was that Robert Skelton and the daughter of Sir Hylton were going to elope as she was apparently pregnant. nfortunately my late aunt after much investigation could delve no further, there always seemed to be a block, I would be interested to know whether the Sir Robert's daughter did indeed have a child out of wedlock