This 16th century manor house is a Grade 1 listed building now used as an outdoor education centre.
A New Year tradition here is that someone must knock on the door on New Year’s Eve and hand over a ripe apple. This tradition dates back to the 16th century, when one wild and snowy New Year’s Eve an old lady knocked on the door looking for shelter. She was taken in by the Lord of the Manor, who gave her a bed and fed her well. Next day, she gave the Lord a ripe apple and told him to keep it above his fireplace, promising good luck all year, as long as the apple was not removed.
The oldest and most beautiful part of Borwick Hall is the central pele tower, which dates from the 14th century. The White Lady who haunts the tower is young and pretty but looks sad and distracted. Perhaps she is searching for a way out of the tower, where she was imprisoned by her father when she refused to marry the man he had chosen to be her husband. Her name is commonly thought to be Elizabeth Whittington, daughter of Thomas – although the only Thomas Whittington connected to the Hall had no daughter of that name. Whatever her name, the story goes on to tell how she stubbornly refused to agree to her father’s demands to marry a man she did not love and as her father refused to release her from the tower until she agreed, she starved to death.
Incidentally, there is an interesting and clever priest-hide here, in a small room adjacent to one of the bedrooms which used to be known as the chapel. It is under the floorboards, some of which are set in such a way that they will tilt up if enough pressure is put upon them, revealing a space beneath. Once the fugitive is inside, the floorboards return to their usual place and no sign of the hide can be seen.
(Image © Copyright Karl and Ali and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)