Issue 20, Volume 1
months ago, we interviewed Lynton V. Harris from The Sudden Impact!
Entertainment Company who gave us a unique insight into how his
attractions around the world scare – and more to the point, entertain
hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of people every single year.
the Sudden Impact! empire continues to prosper, Lynton V. Harris returned
this year, as he does every year, to Tussauds’ Warwick Castle, one of
the largest and most-visited Mediaeval castles in the world, to prepare
Ghosts Alive for its third season.
V. Harris travels from New York to oversee Ghosts Alive
Alive intended to give Warwick Castle’s Ghost Tower a new lease of
life in 2003, admittedly an ironic image considering it’s a ghost
tower, but wanted an attraction that would not only tell the story of
the ill-fated 24th Earl of Warwick, Sir Fulke Greville, but deliver it
in a way that was entertaining, too.
Alive wasn’t the first time Tussauds and the Sudden Impact!
Entertainment Company had worked together – The Freezer and Freakshow
3D were both enormously popular walk throughs at Thorpe Park, while the
same can be said of Terror of the Towers at Alton Towers, and Serial
Killers: The Chamber Live in the landmark Madame Tussaud’s in London.
this was the first time such an attraction would be used by Tussauds to
have the additional purpose of teaching a history lesson at the same
in order to support a full time cast, Ghosts Alive would have its own
separate admission ticket, at a charge of £2.50, therefore standing on
its own success both creatively, and financially.
the end of March, as the final preparations were made for Ghosts Alive,
we were invited to Warwick Castle to see how various elements of a
Sudden Impact! show come together to form Ghosts Alive.
back to the 11th century, Warwick Castle has a rich and colourful
history. The first foundations of significance were laid by Ethelfleda,
the daughter of Alfred the Great in 914.
Tower was completed in 1395
the Conqueror established the castle as a motte-and-bailey forte in
1068, building a timber stockade built upon an earth mound. By 1263,
stone had replaced the wooden ramparts, before the next year the castle
was besieged by the Earl of Leicester who held the Earl of Warwick,
William Maudit, and his lady wife.
iconic 127ft Guy’s Tower was completed by 1395, yet, having been
passed from earl-to-earl, the castle became dilapidated by the end of
the 16th century, before it was passed to Sir Fulke Greville as the 24th
Earl of Warwick in 1604.
spent thousands on restoring the castle to a magnificent stately
residence, leading a bishop to remark that “it seems nor art nor force
can intercept [the castle]. As if lover built, a soldier kept it”
story of Warwick Castle becomes more relevant to Ghosts Alive when in
1628 Greville was stabbed by his incensed manservant, Ralph Heywood.
Fulke Greville was born in Beauchamp Court, Alcester in 1554. Despite
his untimely downfall, Greville became a nationally distinguished figure
and was known for his love of writing poetry.
was as Greville read his last will and testament that he told Heyward
that he would receive the sum of just £20 every year for the rest of
his life. Enraged, Heyward stabbed Greville twice, killing him, before
– overcome with guilt – he stabbed himself.
Ghost Tower, home - strangely enough - to Ghosts Alive
was buried in St. Mary’s Church in Warwick, yet his ghost is still
said to haunt the Watergate Tower where he resided, now known as the
Ghost Tower. It is here where Ghosts Alive is set.
of the finer details of Greville’s life and indeed death have been
lost or misconstrued through the passage of time. Some were quick to
censure the accuracy of Ghosts Alive, saying that Greville was not
killed in Warwick, but London.
is also not known whether or not Heyward intended to kill the Earl, and
it is said the Earl did not die immediately, but three weeks later,
after which his body was returned to Warwick.
former professor of English literature at Birmingham University, Joan
Rees, has been most vocal about the attraction, calling it
‘spurious’ and a ‘shameless insult to the memory of one of the
country’s foremost renaissance poets’.
Armchair Critic is correct – at least historically speaking –
although her understanding of Ghosts Alive’s plot leaves much to be
desired. Ghosts Alive merely uses the Ghost Tower as a poignant and
relevant place to tell the story, and as such doesn’t actually suggest
that Greville was killed – or died – inside the tower, much like
Cinderella didn’t necessarily go to a ball at your local theatre.
some of the hosts go into quite a bit of detail about the legend,
including the fact Greville was in London at the time of the murder.
Despite the historical bias, much of the emphasis in Ghosts Alive is the
fact the Ghost Tower is apparently still haunted by Greville, and his
assailant Ralph Heywood.
argue that the murder didn't take part in Warwick, although Ghosts
Alive doesn't suggest it did
plot of Ghosts Alive is introduced at the entrance to the Ghost Tower,
before in the first room the ghost of Sir Fulke Greville tells the
simplified story of his murder before visitors move upstairs into the
on Ghosts Alive the stabbing takes place in this room, this isn’t to
imply that this is the same room where the Earl died – it is merely
telling the story, while packing in a few scares while it’s at it.
on, the tale takes a twist as a mentally tortured Ralph Heywood takes
his own life, before guests leave the Ghost Tower after the 6-8 minute
coin a phrase, Rees’ criticisms of Ghosts Alive are ‘spurious’.
The story of Sir Fulke Greville is complex, has been subject to various
interpretations over the years, and while in the quest for simplicity
Warwick Castle are economical with the amount of information thrown at
guests, Ghosts Alive covers just one of the many stories that make up
the colourful history of Warwick Castle. Continues...