A Series of Terrible Events at Winstanley Hall


Winstanley Hall, in Wigan, was built by the Winstanley family who had owned the land here since at least the 13th century. The oldest part of the present hall was built in the middle of the 15th century. Other wings were added in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1855, Winstanley Hall was the scene of a series of terrible events involving the estate manager, Thomas Shortrede and his wife. Mrs Shortrede was found dead, apparently drowned, in a well on the estate. When it came to light that her husband had been unfaithful, it became obvious that Mrs Shortrede had taken her own life when she discovered the affair.

Thomas Shortrede’s lover was Mrs Atherton, wife of the mason who also lived on the Winstanley Estate. As the story of the death and her own infidelity spread, Mrs Atherton could not bear the scandal and her partial responsibility for Mrs Shortrede’s death, so she then took her own life by hanging herself.

Finally, Thomas Shortrede was publicly shamed in church the following Sunday by Canon Howard St. George and he found this so unbearable that he also lost interest in living and shot himself. The court investigating his death recorded an ‘open verdict’.

Naturally, Winstanley Hall is haunted and the string of deaths in 1855 are said to be responsible – although, as none of those involved actually lived in the hall, it is unclear how they could cause the shadowy figures seen at the deserted windows of the building.

There is also one ghost which is unconnected to the scandalous murders; the ghost of a white pony called Dick. The pony belonged to Squire Banks and died in 1841. He was clearly a favourite as he was buried close to the hall and his grave can still be seen. A ghostly coach drawn by a white pony has sometimes been reported in the grounds of Winstanley Hall.

cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Andy Davisgeograph.org.uk/p/437532

About LancashireFolk

Lancashire folklore, legends, ghosts, local history - author of 'Lancashire Folk' published by Schiffer Publishing 2016 - 9780764349836 £19.50. Please visit www.foliatehead.com to see upcoming books. The Enchanted Valley and Manchester Folk will be published in 2020. Cumbria Folk almost ready!
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9 Responses to A Series of Terrible Events at Winstanley Hall

  1. Hi, lovely blog, wondering if this is the ancestral home for the infamous Leveller, Gerard Winstanley 1600’s?


    • Afraid not – although he was born in Lancashire, he was of much lowlier birth. thanks for your compliment!


    • Sondra Williams (nee Sondra Winstanley) says:

      My family name is Winstanley and I believe they left for a new life in America but when they arrived at Liverpool docks, the only ship there was heading to Australia, so here I am


  2. felicity duffy says:

    Anyone know if Winstanley Hall is still about or as it been built on or re-opened as something else.


  3. Chris tocker says:

    Click the link to see video footage of winstanley hall


  4. Greg Burns says:

    Hello from New Jersey Shore, USA. I was wondering why the Winstanley family sold the estate to the Banke’s family? I am a direct descendant of a “Liverpool” Winstanley who I am guessing was a distant descendant of the Wigan Winstanley’s who migrated to close-by Liverpool. Anyway…I am curious to know why the estate was sold and if the family dispersed after falling upon hard times. Thank you so much for your time and interest. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Greg Burns


    • Hi Greg, I wouldn’t be able to answer that question, I’m afraid. Perhaps you could contact the main library in Wigan – chances are they have a ‘local studies’ librarian who might be able to help, or at least point you in the right direction. Might be a trial to reach them, but start with google and good luck!


  5. Greg Burns says:

    Thank you so much for the direction. I will try to contact the library at Wigan. In these days hoping that someone will be available. All the Best.GB


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