The Untold Story Of This North Carolina Castle And Its Secret Society Is Astounding
Castles, in general, have a mysterious intrigue. North Carolina has
eight castles, all of which have a spellbinding effect on the mind. One of them is home to a secret society founded in 1889 and as if housing a secret order isn’t baffling enough, the castle is also surrounded by a myriad of legends. The Order of Gimghoul has a lot of mystery surrounding it. What were they meeting for and when things are surrounded in hidden places, one can’t help but wonder what sort of sinister things may be going on. You may not be able to go to this castle in Chapel Hill, but we think that only adds to the intrigue.
First things first: the secret society.
In 1889, a small group of college students at the University of North Carolina decided a secret club was in order. The new secret society eventually decided on a well-intended Arthurian mission based upon chivalry.
Initially, they called themselves the Order of the Dromgoole.
There was (and still is) a legend circulating around Chapel Hill about a young college student named Dromgoole, who in 1833, fought to his death in a duel over the hand of a local girl with whom his dueling opponent was also in love. Several legends surround how that duel played out, but all of them end up with Dromgoole losing the face-off. The most heinous version places the body of Dromgoole under a rock (supposedly behind the castle) that's forever stained with his blood.
As the secret society grew, it became clear that the Order of the Dromgoole would need a place to meet.
In another twist, they eventually changed their name to the Order of the Gimgoole, which was later changed to Gimghoul. In 1924, $50,000 was spent on constructing their meeting place: Hippol Castle, now commonly referred to as Gimghoul Castle.
During the construction, artisans from France were hired to break apart 1,300 tons of stone that now cover the castle's beautiful exterior.
As for the secret society, it's still active and new members are only added by invitation. It's said that it's only open to a select group of (very wealthy) juniors and seniors at UNC, as well as a few faculty members.
Gimghoul Castle is reportedly still home to the secret meetings of a secret society of men formed in 1889. The photo below may or may not be an image depicting members of the secret society. The footnote with the photo indicates it was taken in 1954. It is housed in the University of North Carolina's digital library, a virtual museum of North Carolina history. The photo is in a collection of two digital images labeled "Order of Gimghoul."
After doing some digging we were able to find
some interesting evidence.
The UNC University Archives contains 4,000 items related to the Order of Gimghoul, a collection which occupies six linear feet of shelf space. The items are available for public browsing; however, there is a caveat: only items 50 years and older are available to the public. It makes you wonder what goes on behind those stone walls. Why the secrets and why the cover?
What do you know about the secret society at Chapel Hill known as the Order of Gimghoul? We'd love to know!
Today, Gimghoul Castle is on private property. Trespassing is not allowed. So we do not recommend breaking the law to investigate. However, the complete mystery surrounding The Order of Gimghoul does make one wonder what it is all about. If you know more about this alluring castle or secret society, please let us know in the comments below.
For some fascinating North Carolina legends (of the scary kind… ), keep reading to learn about
6 of the scariest urban legends in North Carolina.
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More to Explore
Castles In North Carolina
What are the other castles in North Carolina?
There are eight castles in total around North Carolina; some of them you can visit, and others are on private property, but here is the list of them:
Tryon Palace in New Bern
Barclay Villa in Angier (This venue is, unfortunately, closed.)
Gimghoul Castle in Chapel Hill (This castle is on private property and you can not visit it.)
Castle Mo nt Roug e in Rougemont (As of November 2021, they are now allowing visitors if you ask for permission, but otherwise is on private property.)
Castle McCulloch in Jamestown
Biltmore Estate in Asheville
Castle Ladyhawke in Tuckasegee
Castle Of Joy in Murphy
As a bonus, here is a Castle Vrbo where you can spend the night in the Smithmore Castle in Spruce Pine.
What other mysteries are yet to be solved in North Carolina?
There are a few unsolved mysteries in North Carolina, so to start that journey check out these 7 unsolved mysteries in the state.
Explore North Carolina