The secret history of Gimghoul Castle

Members of the Order of Gimghoul standing in front of headquarters, photo courtesy of The

Madison Pulley, Reporter

   The legend of the Gimghoul Castle is considerably one for the history books. Complete with mystery and murder, full of secret societies and urban folklore, the legend of Gimghoul Castle incorporates things that one would only read in fictional novels. Since 1833, the conundrum of the castle has remained unsolved. 

   Peter Dromgoole, a student at the University of North Carolina, is the spark of all inner workings of the Order of Gimghoul. Dromgoole is said to have mysteriously disappeared from campus in 1833. The legend surrounding his departure entails that Dromgoole fell head over heels for a fellow student remarked in historical texts as “Miss Fanny.” Sadly, Fanny was already spoken for. Despite his better judgment, Dromgoole challenged the opposition to a duel for Fanny’s hand. 

   From this point forward, the details of events are hazed. Many sources speak contradicting things about how everything unfolded. Some say Dromgoole was slain by his competition, hitting his head on a rock that still sits outside the castle to this day- the blood from Dromgoole’s head still visible to the eye. Some say that Dromgoole bailed and joined the Army under his roommate’s name. There are still people who believe the legend is false, modeled after a similar situation with Dromgoole’s uncle, George C. Dromgoole.

   The secret history of the Order of Gimghoul merely starts there. The official order was established in 1889 by a party of Chapel Hill students- Robert Worth Bingham, Shepard Bryan, William W. Davies, Edward Wray Martin, and Andrew Henry Patterson. The order was open to all “notable” men of Chapel Hill, juniors and seniors alike.

   The society originally met at a lodge located at the intersection of Rosemary and Boundary in Chapel Hill. However, the group had an immense amount of ambition and wanted to grow their society into something that lived up to what they believed in. The group was bound together by their commitment to King Arthurian traditions – the old British hero remarked mainly in myth. 

   In 1915, the Order of Gimghoul acquired the old Hippol Castle in Chapel Hill and the head of the society, Nathaniel Curtis, hired a group of Waldensians to renovate the building. The Waldensians are people who are held in high esteem for their stonemason work- inhabiting France and Italy until migrating to North Carolina due to religious persecution by the Roman Catholic church. The ramifications were completed 11 years later and the building became more commonly referred to as Gimghoul Castle because of the whispers of the society. 

   According to legend, the castle can be found near the grave of Peter Dromgoole, where his spirit remains. Situated directly in front of the castle is Dromgoole rock, the culprit of his murder, still stained with his blood 189 years later. There is no definitive evidence of what happened within the society, nor is there information on where the Order of Gimghoul is now.