6 min read

Newport. Sun Inn. Ghosts of the Isle of Wight, with Margo Williams.

No one living stayed for long in this building. Intensity of paranormal acivity too much for everyone. Site of the former Sun Inn, and possible location of King Charles' last night in Newport tragedy.
Photo image of Old Sun Inn building, Holyrood St. Newport. Isle of Wight.
Old Sun Inn building, Holyrood St. Newport. Isle of Wight.

The Haunted House on Holyrood Street.

Two of Newport's notoriously haunted buildings are the old Sun Inn on Holyrood Street; and the Old Grammar School on the junction of Lugely Street.

Both connected in a curious consequence of events that led to the arrest of a King of England. For a moment in time Newport was the focus of world news.

Well, it would have been if the internet worked back then.

The "Hell house of Holyrood Streeet" is how tenants and business-owners described this building. All reported a frightening variety of supernatural occurrences, worse than things going 'bump' in the night. Multiple sightings, poltergeist-activity accompanied by screaming.

Newport paranormalists wonder if its ghosts come from the not-so-great escape.

Most Haunted island

Traitor King & Treaty of Newport

Following defeat in the civil war King Charles I surrendered to the Scottish army, who handed him back to parliament. Soon after, he was seized by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, held prisoner in Hampton Court; only to escape to the Isle of Wight, where for the past year he was confined as prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle.

1648 Parliament offered to negotiate with the king and end hostilities. Newport town chosen for the three-month hearing.

King Charles promised not to attempt escape during the summit, plus twenty days beyond, by way of honest gesture. So everyone believed.

Historians are divided in opinion over the location of the building in which Charles spent nights during his negotiations with parliament. Some claim he remained in Carisbrooke Castle, others believe he was a guest in this house in Holyrood Street.

His Majesty's Last Night in Newport

To this day there remains much mystery about why, where and when the escape failed. Letters to Sun Inn landlord Hopkins imply the king was ready. A boat close by, but no one knows for certain if the unlucky King of England had Hopkins' cunning plan in play. Or the fateful night unfolded as witness Colonel Cooke, claimed.

That it was the king's own noble, but foolish fault...

Montage illustration of King Charles in Newport fro the Treat negotiations with Parliament. 1648
King Charles in Newport for the Treat negotiations with Parliament. 1648

Sir Richard Worsley in his epic History of the Isle of Wight related a timeline from Cooke's debrief.

"...10.00 P.M. Night of November 29th 1648 was the wettest yet. Howling gale and stinging cold rain lashed through Newport's streets.

The king paced in his lodgings considering the news brought earlier by a stranger in disguise, that the army was planning to capture him that very night. Seated close by were the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Lindsay.

Three knocks on the door, it creaked open.

Colonel Cooke entered, breathless and dripping rain water. Dropped to his knee. 'Majefty. The governor was fummoned to army headquarters. Major Rolfe is in command. He fays he has heard no rumour that the army intends to feize you.'

Charles' eyes spun in contemplation.

'In fact he denies all knowledge. He fays you may affure the king he may reft quietly this night, for on his life you fhall have no difturbance.'

'This night?' asked Charles.

'Aye majefty I asked him, this night. So I afked is there any fuch defign any night? After fome paufe he anfwered it was impoffible for him to know the purpofes of the army at fo great a diftance, but that as yet he had received no fuch orders.'

Charles' eyes came to a halt and both focused upon the colonel. 'You believe him?'

'Majefty I informed Major Rolfe that if he fhould hear of any fuch plans he muft let us know in time fo we will not be furprifed with their execution.'

'Execution?' asked Charles.

Illustration of Royalists circa 1640s
"What's going on?" asked the King of England.

Two Thousand Troops in Newport

'He anfwered it would be but a refpect due to the king,' Cooke added.

Charles chewed his lip as he studied the parchment in his hand. 'A confiderable number of troops have this evening landed on the ifland.' He waved the paper like that would do some good. 'Two thoufand foot! Drawn up round Carifbrooke Caftle.' The king turned to Richmond, 'furely there muft be fome extraordinary bufinefs in hand that could caufe fuch a body of men to be fo fecretly landed, and in fo bitter a night as this?'

Image of oage extract from Sir Richard Worsley's History of the Isle of Wight featuring King Charles I's last night in Newport.
Extract from Sir Richard Worsley's History of the Isle of Wight

Cooke shuffled forward. 'Majefty permit me to ride to Carifbrooke and find out more.'

'Ned. It is howling ftorm. You'll catch your death from fever.'


'Go then.' Cooke kissed the royal hand, dripped and left the chamber.

2 Hours Later

Soaked and wind-blown Colonel Cooke banged on the king's door. 'Majefty it is me!'

Lindsay opened the door. 'Thank God! The town is filled with army foldiers. What news?'

The Colonel dripped toward the king.

Charles' eyes were wide with panic. 'Tell me!'

'Majefty I rode around the caftle, without meeting any troops and I took fhelter under the gateway to cover myfelf from the violence of the rain.' Cooke wiped water from his face. 'And recollecting that Captain Bowerman, a Gentleman of the Ifland with whom I am well acquainted, and who commanded a company of militia, I fent him a meffage defiring to fpeak with him.'

Cooke dripped to the fireplace, puddles in his wake. Tried to warm at the hearth, but droplets caused fire hiss and splutter.

'Go on man!' wailed Lindsay, pushing him back from what little warmth they had.

'After a long ftay the meffenger returned with an excufe. He faid the captain could not conveniently come out to me but defired I walk into the caftle. I accepted that invitation and on entering the parlour was furprifed with the fight of more than a dozen officers of the army, moft of whom I knew.

After mutual falutations I addreffed myfelf to the captain, defiring to fpeak to him in private, when I faw him afk leave of thofe officers.'

'What!' roared the duke.

'I enquired of Captain Bowerman the meaning of that. He plainly told me he was no better than their prifoner in his own garrifon, being threatened with immediate death if he fo much as whifpered to any of his fervants.'

Cooke shuffled back toward warmth. 'I afked him if he could imagine the caufe of all this. He faid that he fuppofed fomething extraordinary was going forward, but faid he knew not what. And faid the captain of the ifland's cavalry was in the fame fituation.'

'Did he tell you anything about their plans?' asked Charles.

Illustration of Royalists circa 1640s
"Get his autograph before we snatches 'im," said sergeant Smith.

'I afked if he knew of any intention of feizing your majefty this night,' Cooke answered. 'Bowerman faid, poffibly fome fuch thing might be defigned, although he faid he knew nothing of it. Majefty there are foldiers every where now, even fince laft I left. New army guards furrounding the houfe.'

'And at every window!' roared the duke.

'At my very chamber-door they fuffocate me with the fmoke from their matches,' complained Charles who lightly coughed."

Related. Ghosts of the Old Grammar School.

Ghosts of the Old Sun Inn

No one knows why this building in Holyrood Street is quite so haunted. Multiple haunting, with considerable spite for any business-owner who braved the lease.

Some paranormalists believe this drama unfolded in these very rooms. Landlord Hopkins close to hand, a handful of royalists; hundreds of soldiers in Newport's streets. A shadowed boat not far away.

Only the old Sun Inn's ghosts know the secret of this Not-so-Great Escape.

Exploring the haunted Isle of Wight

Thank you for your company on this short tour of Isle of Wight mysteries and haunting. If you would like to know more about Margo Williams' investigations in Newport and other royals and rogues, read this book. Now available from Amazon.

Book cover link to purchase Ghost Encounters Royals and Rogues from amazon.co.uk
Now available from amazon.co.uk
Useful Links

King Charles I

Treaty of Newport