The Park Mistress of Hornby Park

Hornby Park © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

This little ghost story has some folk elements which are hard to ignore. A woman named Meg Brackin was out in Hornby Park one evening, looking for kindling for her fire. She came across another woman and wondered what she was doing there, as the day was ending and it would soon be dark. She spoke to the woman, who then came close to her and took hold of her hand – and that was the beginning of a dreadful experience for poor Meg.

An old poem, in local dialect, describes how the strange woman in a white dress (who was in fact a ghost) gripped Meg’s hand tightly and led her on a break-neck journey through the Park, ignoring pathways and plunging through brush and brambles without stopping even to drink at the stream. Indeed, Meg grew so thirsty that as the night wore on she was obliged to drag the hem of her dress through the dew-soaked grass and suck the moisture from it. The ghost would not let Meg rest until daylight came again – at which point she vanished. It is said that Meg had always been a well-covered lady, but after the awful experience of running about the country all night, she was thin.

The white lady, known locally as the Park Mistress, is believed to be the ghost of Lady Harrington, who was, allegedly, a murderess. We are not told who was the victim of her murderous tendencies; perhaps she was in league with Lord Monteagle, who allegedly murdered her brother?

However, Meg Brackin certainly lived; the records show that she was born in 1745, and died in 1795.

Image © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

About LancashireFolk

Lancashire folklore, legends, ghosts, local history - author of 'Lancashire Folk' published by Schiffer Publishing Winter 2015 - 9780764349836 £17.50. 'Manchester Folk', covering Greater Manchester, coming in 2017!
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