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.