Chapel Hill, NC

This Castle in NC Was the Meeting Place of a Secret Society

Diana Rus

The Order of Gimghoul is a collegiate secret society based at Hippol (or Gimghoul) Castle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In 1889, the order was founded by Robert Worth Bingham, Shepard Bryan, William W. Davies, Edward Wray Martin, and Andrew Henry Patterson, all of them were students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (UNC).

Order of Gimghoul

Male students who are "notable" (rising juniors and above) and faculty members could join the society by invitation. 

The legend about Peter Dromgoole, a student who inexplicably vanished from campus in 1833, serves as society's central focus.

His love for a "Chapel Hill" student known only as "Miss Fanny" contributed to the creation of an urban legend that surrounded his disappearance. Dromgoole allegedly attempted to fight a duel to win her hand but was killed.

From there, several versions of the story say that Miss Fanny either passed away from grief after visiting his grave every night or that she held his head in her arms as he died.

In reality, it's thought that Dromgoole joined the army or, after failing his entrance examinations, fled to Europe using his roommate John Buxton Williams' name.

The legend may have originated from a duel involving Peter's uncle, George C. Dromgoole.

About the secret Society

According to archives, the founders initially called themselves the Order of Dromgoole, but then changed their name to the Order of Gimghoul, "in accordance with nighttime and graves and weirdness."

According to legends, the organization followed the "Dromgoole legend and the values of Arthurian knighthood and chivalry." According to all reports, the organization is social and doesn't appear to have any hidden goals. Access to archives that are less than fifty years old is severely restricted, and membership in the order is closed.

Gimghoul Castle

Hippol Castle, often known as Gimghoul Castle, serves as the meeting place for the Order of Gimghoul.

Former UNC English Professor Charles Phillips Russell described club founder, Edward Wray Martin, as the most vociferous proponent of the castle. Charles Phillips Russell said that: Gimghoul Castle was created as a result of a dream of law student Edward Wray Martin, class of 1891, and has a medieval aesthetic and a sinister aura. Martin was a voracious reader of Arthurian and other medieval tales Martin dreamed about the club having a "great gloomy pile standing on the edge of a cliff" where it might conduct covert operations.

There is substantial debate regarding how old the castle is and who built it.

According to Russell, the castle was completed in 1926, with the ornate stonework done by Waldensian stone masons from Valdese, North Carolina.

Others, less certain in their statements, believe that the castle was built in the 1920s by artisans from France and that it took between four and six years to complete.

According to a third version of the story, 1,300 tons of rough stone were used in its construction, which began in 1924.

The price of the building, according to all accounts, was higher than $50,000.

The Order of Gimghoul archives are housed at UNC's Wilson Library; however, access to records less than fifty years old requires permission from the Order.

(Source: Order of Gimghoul/ Wikipedia)

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