The first time was about 15 years ago when we first decided to move back to Yorkshire. That's not why we decided to move - it just happened during the same weekend! We were staying near the Bolton Abbey Estate, in Beamsley Hospital, a beautiful 16th/17th century Landmark Trust property, once home to impoverished gentlewomen. It's a former almshouse built in an octagonal shape, with a series of rooms set around a chapel. To get from the bedrooms to the kitchen and lounge area you have to walk through the chapel which still has an ancient Bible and the feeling of a church. The black Labrador we had with us wasn't so keen on walking through the chapel but we ignored that. However as I walked through the chapel after our first night there, my then 3 year old daughter matter of factly said, "this is where the noisy ladies were". I asked her what she meant and she replied, "the ones who kept talking at night and waking me up". I pretended to ignore it but the following evening after we'd put her to bed she called to ask me to "tell the ladies in that funny room to stop talking". Make of that what you will. It is a lovely place to stay whether the women folk chatter in the chapel or not...
We sold our house and eventually found a house to buy but we couldn't move in straight away so we rented a holiday cottage for six weeks. It was lovely and cosy except for one spot where we all thought there was a cold draught between the bedroom and bathroom. There was a sort of balcony looking down into an open hallway. We looked for draughts but couldn't find an obvious source and assumed it was just the larger space. After we'd moved out a local woman asked me if I'd liked living in the cottage. She was surprised when I said yes and commented she'd have hated to live where someone had hung themselves only a couple of years earlier.
We moved into our seventeenth century mill and did lots of work. It felt like a friendly house, very comforting and welcoming. Except for one archway in a bit of the building we don't use much. I just felt a bit "shuddery" when I went through it but thought maybe it was because that part of the house needed more renovation and care. Then other people commented on the peculiar feel of that one spot. That part of the building had been let out to various people in the past and when I asked them if they'd ever had any strange experiences, without prompting they commented on the archway. It didn't really bother any of us, but it did feel odd. I couldn't find any history of hangings, or other grisly goings-on so tried to ignore it but even after re-decoration that spot continued to feel uncomfortable.
I happened to be sitting next to our local vicar one day at an event so very casually asked him if vicars actually do exorcise buildings or is that just something in horror films? He said that they prefer not to call it an 'exorcism' but they do house 'blessings'. The vicar asked me why I'd asked and when I explained his response made me think such situations are actually quite common. We talked about the exact spot in the house and speculated on the reasons. We agreed that if it continued to bother us, he'd come to the house. A couple of days later I realised I'd gone back and forth through that archway and it felt completely different. Can a vicar thinking about a troubled spirit really make a difference? It didn't really make sense to me but the feeling really has gone.
It didn't end there though. Upstairs in the house is a lamp that suddenly started to switch itself on every night. For a little while we all assumed other members of the family had left it on or were playing tricks, but then we went round the house switching everything off before a holiday. As we arrived home in the dark, a light was shining. Yes, it was on again. Now when we go into the room and switch it off, we always smile - what ever is causing the light to come on feels friendly and up-lifting. I still can't say I believe in ghosts but I suppose it's natural for a very old house to have different kinds of history within its stones.
An architectural historian corrected me, The daisy wheel shape is actually a type of ancient graffiti known as a 'hexfoil' which was carved into walls and wood to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the building! So we're fine.
For starters there's the tale of Tom Lee and the Grassington ghost. A grizzly event took place in Grassington in April 1766, when local blacksmith Tom Lee killed Dr Richard Petty after a cock fight, when the doctor won a substantial amount of money. Tom Lee then hid out in a nearby cave - his ghost is said to still be there.
The Troller's Gill Barguest is a legendary monstrous black dog with massive eyes, huge teeth and claws said to frequent Troller's Gill by Skyreholme. It's rumoured to be the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mother lived near Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales so it's likely he did visit the area. Maybe he spotted the Barguest? The nooks, caves and crannies of Troller's Gill are also said to be the home of trolls and unpleasant beings lying in wait for the unsuspecting rambler... But don't let that put you off your walk...!
Lonsdale George Hodgson of Dent died in 1715 aged 94. Years before his death, there were many rumours about his health and longevity, with some locals attributing it to dealings with the devil and vampires. He was buried in a corner of the churchyard, but later several people reported seeing him walking by moonlight. After their mysterious deaths, his body was exhumed, a stake driven through his heart then laid to rest next to the church porch so he couldn't escape. The hole in the coffin lid is still there.
In common with many bridges of the same name, legend holds that at the Devil's Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale, the Devil appeared to an old woman, promising to build a bridge in exchange for the first soul to cross over it. When the bridge was finished the woman threw bread over the bridge and her dog chased after it, thereby outwitting the Devil.