Another little anecdote about the Buck Stone…

A couple of years ago I told the story of the enormous dragon / worm / serpent that once lived in Hawes Tarn, Silverdale

Recently I came across this lovely little snippet in a little book by one T. Pape: ‘Warton and George Washington’s Ancestors’. It has nothing to do with the original folkloric tale, but it’s very sweet nonetheless and shows that the Buck Stone was still a landmark worthy of note! From 1913 –

Near the top of the hill is a huge stone in the hedge to the right of the road. This is the Buck Stone, and in olden days, when the passengers used to toil up the hill behind the coach, a practical joke was often played on guileless travellers. They used to be told to put their heads near the stone to listen to the tide coming in over the Bay miles away, and if they did so their heads were knocked against the stone. Now the narrow old coach road is private, but Mr. Bainbridge at Greenlands Farm would allow anyone to inspect the stone if desired.


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Sir Richard Owen and a gruesome tale


Sir Richard Owen

Whilst this story has only a tenuous link to folklore proper, it is one which has haunted me since I first discovered it some years ago. And so I offer it here – make of it what you will.

Sir Richard Owen, born in Lancaster in 1804, was best known for his skills as a naturalist and paleontologist and, indeed, it was he who coined the word ‘dinosauria’. In his early years he trained as a surgeon and it is from this time that this story comes – a story which Owen himself enjoyed telling, gruesome as it was. Wikipedia’s entry on the man notes that Owen was known for his ‘driving ambition, occasionally vicious temperament, and determination to succeed’, which may go some way to explaining why this gruesome tale was one he was so fond of telling.  It appeared in newspapers country-wide in December 1892, four days after he died.

“In his early days, when he held the post of surgeon to the prison at Lancaster, a negro died in the gaol, and a post-mortem well as an inquest were necessary. After the inquest, the young surgeon saw the body put in the coffin and the lid screwed down, to be ready for the funeral next day. Owen had at the time been already attracted to the study of comparative anatomy, and negroes’ heads were not plentiful ; so he made his mind up that this one should not be lost to the cause of science. In the evening he returned to the prison with a black bag containing a brick—from his official position he had no difficulty in getting admittance to the mortuary, where the coffin lid was unscrewed, and screwed down again. During this process the brick and the negro’s head changed places.

“The ground outside the principal entrance to the gaol has a considerable descent; and the time being winter, with snow and frost, Owen had scarcely passed out when he slipped and fell all his length—the bag went from his hand, and head tumbled out, and rolled down the paved way. He jumped up, caught the bag, and following the head clutched it just it finished its career into a small shop where tobacco was sold. Pushing it into the bag again, he vanished out of the shop with all the speed he was capable of.

“Next morning, when Owen was going to his usual duties at the prison, he was called in by the woman at the shop where the accident had occurred on the previous evening. She wished him to see her husband, who was very ill. He had had, she said, a fright the night before that caused him to look wild and dazed-like.

“The man, it turned out, was a retired sea captain, who had been in many adventures among the West India Islands, when many deeds were done that did not at that time require to be accounted for. Among these had been the killing of a negro in which he had a hand, and the transaction had left a touch of trouble on his conscience. After giving these details the old captain told of the horrible event that took place the night before. He was sitting in his shop, all was quiet, and it so chanced that he had been thinking of the negro, when suddenly he saw his very head roll into the shop in front of the counter, and it was followed by the Devil, all in black, with a black bag in his hand. The Devil snatched the head, and both disappeared through the earth like a flash of lightning. The description was perhaps not quite complimentary to the young anatomist, but it was satisfactory so far that it showed his identity had not been recognised.”

One can’t help but wonder about the man who told this horrible story so often during his life that it became his epitaph…

Image: Sir Richard Owen – By Ballista – Taken from the English wikipedia, Public Domain,
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Bloomfield Road Football Ground – Blackpool


The wreck of HMS Foudroyant, near North Pier, Blackpool.

Legend has it that the boardroom of Blackpool Football Club is lined with oak panelling taken from Lord Nelson’s flagship. Of course, Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory survives and is safely berthed at Portsmouth Naval Base – but perhaps the panelling was taken from another grand ship which foundered off the Fylde coast. When I included this story in my book ‘Lancashire Folk’, I said; The naval ghost seen in the boardroom, then, may not be Nelson as some have claimed, but perhaps he is a long-lost sea captain we will never identify.

Nothing pleases me more than to be proved wrong! History enthusiast Lawrence Sutcliffe contacted me with more information on this snippet of a tale. To my surprise, he told me that one of Nelson’s flagships did indeed founder on the Blackpool coast, and the proof of this is in the above photograph, taken at the time, showing interested residents examining the wreck.

HMS Foudroyant was launched at Plymouth in 1798 and foundered on Blackpool beach on June 16th, 1897. She was a full-rigged sailing ship, 184 feet long, with a crew of 650 officers and men. She was, very briefly, Nelson’s flagship – from June 1799 to June 1801 – and in fact Nelson began his affair with Emma, Lady Hamilton during that period.

Foudroyant became a training vessel in 1862 and that remained her role until 1862. In 1891, now a very elderly ship in need of much renovation, she was taken out of service altogether and sold to a firm of shipbreakers – a move which caused a public outcry. Fortunately, she was rescued by one Wheatley Cobb and turned once again into a boy’s training ship. Faced with vast bills for the necessary work to make the Foudroyant properly sea-worthy again, Cobb put her on exhibition at seaside resorts all around the country – which is why she happened to be at Blackpool when the fatal storm struck. At first just damaged, the ship eventually broke up completely in winter gales a few months later.

Various parts of the ship were rescued and put to use – Monmouth Museum holds a cabinet which was constructed out of flotsam and which now holds a variety of relics from Foudroyant. Her bell is now in Blackpool Town Hall.  And, yes, wood panelling from her interior was used to line the boardroom of Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road football ground. It was provided as a gift by a ‘general dealer’, Eli Percival, in 1929.

I now discover that ‘the panelling lined the wall of the Boardroom until 2003’. I know that extensive improvement work has been undertaken at the football ground since then and as I have no knowledge of which parts of the grounds were demolished, I cannot even say for certain that the original Boardroom still exists. If it does, clearly the panelling had disappeared.

However, it now seems more possible that the ghost of a Captain seen wandering through the boardroom might indeed have been Nelson.  Or… another interesting snippet of history about the Foudroyant is that in 1801 she was involved in a battle against the French at Abukir Bay in Egypt, which led to the injury and death aboard the Foudroyant of one General Abercrombie. So was it Abercrombie’s ghost who haunted the Boardroom? He surely had more reason to be there, having died on the very ship whose panelling lined the room. In the end, as I wrote originally, we’ll never know for sure…

Image: By Unknown – Blackpool Gazette, PD-US,
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The tale of an indisposed policeman – and a non-ghost…

From the Ashton Weekly Reporter and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle – Saturday 14 October 1871 – very much a non-ghost but a charming story and wonderfully written!


Some consternation was occasioned in the neighbourhood of the Foresters Hall, on Sunday morning last, by the extraordinary conduct of a man named Harrop, who is a member of the borough police force. It appears that about eleven o’clock, on Monday evening, the 2nd inst., Harrop felt so much unwell that he went to the police office, and declared himself incapable of going his rounds. He accordingly went to his home in New Springbank-street, and retired to bed. He continued to get worse, when the Doctor was called in, and it was discovered that he was suffering from an attack of bronchitis, accompanied with fever. He remained in a very low state until Thursday night, when he became unconscious, and he has not thoroughly regained his senses since that time.

He had been carefully watched and attended to, and on Saturday his wife arranged to be his attendant during the night. She did not leave his bedside until about five o’clock on Sunday morning, when she went downstairs for the purpose of making some tea. She had not been away from the bedroom many seconds, when Harrop very slyly got out of the bed, and pulled two of the sheets off. He then opened the window and threw the sheets on to the ground, and jumped out after them. He fell a distance of about 13 feet, and very much injured his head, which came in contact with some of the stones. He, however, got on his legs, threw the sheets over his shoulders, and bounded away towards the town, running barefooted, like a stag.

Shortly afterwards his wife went upstairs, and her consternation on seeing the bed minus its occupant, the window open, and no trace of her husband outside, may be better imagined than described. The alarm was instantly raised, and messengers were sent in all directions in search of the invalid. Some went to the river side, others to the canal, and a third party ran as far as Chadwick’s dams, thinking that he might have resolved upon committing suicide. Others went to the Town Hall to give information to the police, and a party was despatched to his relatives, but no tidings could be ascertained as to his whereabouts.

Whilst all this was going on, an amusing scene was being enacted in Ashton road. A lamplighter was engaged in extinguishing the lamps, and suddenly he saw a form approaching him. It was hatless and shoeless, and had the most extraordinary expression on the face, whilst the rest of the body was enveloped in something white. The nearer it came to him, the more frightened he became, and he arrived at the conclusion that for the first time in his life he had a real ghost before him. Fear came upon him, and he trembled to such extent that one might say the whole of his bones were almost made to shake. At length the figure passed him, and rushed towards Ridgehill-lanes, and the lamplighter thinking his ghostship might alter his mind and return, made off in the opposite direction ‘like one that on a lonely road Doth walk in fear and dread. And, having once turned round, walks on. And turns no more his head; Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread’.

Arrived in the town he narrated what he had seen, and it was explained to him what had occurred in the neighbourhood of the Foresters’ Refuge. He was told he ought to have stopped the man. “Nay, nay,” said he, “I wouldn’t ha’ spoke to him for a five pound note.”

A party took the track of the ghost from Ridgehill-lanes, but they could not discover him, and he was next heard of the top of Mottram-road. It appears, however, that when he had become somewhat fatigued, he repaired to the house of his father, and he was received there with much surprise. Knowing the severe illness from which he was suffering, the father tried to pacify him and get him to bed, but he would do nothing until it had explained to him that he had been walking his beat, and that Sergeant Warrington had been after him. He appeared to be quite satisfied that he had done his duty, and he then returned to his own house, which had been deserted by the whole family, who had gone in search of him. He went upstairs, and got into bed, and when his anxious pursuers returned he appeared to be comfortably wrapped in the clothes. It was then that the injuries to his head were discovered, and his medical attendant was soon his bedside. He was under great suffering and has remained so during the whole of the week. No doubt such an adventure as that of Sunday will have had a tendency to cause a relapse, and he is now in such a state that the greatest anxiety is expressed concerning him. We, however, trust that he will speedily recover from ‘his Thorny bed of pain. Again repair his vigour lost, And walk and run again.’



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A Suffolk Ghost Story from the 1660s

Browsing the British Newspaper Archive looking for Manchester stories, couldn’t resist sharing this one – not from Manchester but fascinating all the same, particularly in vew of its date.

Manchester Mercury – Tuesday 25 February 1823


Mr Editor, The subjoined wonderful narrative is a copy of a very scarce tract in possession of a friend of mine in Suffolk. At this season of the year it may possibly amuse some of our fire-side readers. I am, &c. B.C.

Of a Dutchman that could see Ghosts, and of a ghost he saw in the town of Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Mr. Broom, the Minister of Woodbridge, in Suffolk, meeting one day in a barber’s shop in that town, a Dutch Lieutenant, (who was blown up with Opdam, and taken alive out of the water, and carried to that town, where he was a prisoner at large;) upon the occasion of some discourse, was told by him that he could see ghosts, and that he had seen divers. Mr. Broom rebuking him for talking idly, he persisted in it very stiffly.

Some days after, lighting upon him again, he asked him whether had seen any Ghost since his coming to that town? To which he replied, no.

But not long after this as they were walking together up the town, he said to Mr. Broom, yonder comes a ghost. He seeing nothing, asked him whereabouts it was? The other said, it is over against such a house, and it walks looking upward towards such a side, flirting one arm with a glove in its hand. He said moreover, when it came near them, they must give way to it; that he ever did so, and some that had not done so had suffered for it.

Anon he said, ‘tis upon us, let’s out of the way. Mr. Broom, believing all to be a fiction, as soon as he said those words, he took hold of his arm, and kept him by force in the way; but as he held him, there came such a force against them, that he was flung into the middle of the street, and one of the palms of his hands and one knee bruised and broken by the fall, which put him for a while to excessive pain.

But spying the Lieutenant laying like a dead man, he got up as soon as he could, and applied himself to his relief. With the help of others, he got him into the next shop, where they poured strong water down his throat, but for some time could discover no life in him. At length, what with the strong water, and what with well chafing him, he began to stir; and when he was come to himself, his first words were, “I will shew you no more ghosts.” Then he desired a pipe of tobacco ; but Mr. Broom told him he should take it at his house; for he feared, should he take it so soon there, it would make him sick.

Thereupon they went together to Mr. Broom’s house, where they were no sooner entering in, but the bell rang out. Mr. Broom presently sent his maid to learn who was dead. She brought word it was such an one, a tailor, who died suddenly, though he had been in a consumption a long time. And enquiring after the time of his death, they found it was as punctually as it could be guessed at the very time when the ghost appeared. The ghost had exactly this tailor’s known gait, who ordinarily went also with one arm swinging, and glove in that hand, and looking on one side upwards.

This relation was sent to Dr H. More from Mr. Edward Fowler; at the end whereof he writes, that Dr. Burton, as well as himself, heard it from Mr Broom’s own mouth. And I can add, that I also afterwards heard it from his own mouth in London.

(The defence of Opdam occurred in the year 1665, and as peace was signed between England, Holland and France in 1667, we may presume, that the event here recorded took place within that period.)
© 2016 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited


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Lancashire Folk – the Book!


Pleased to announced that Lancashire Folk is finally available!  It is now in stock and available for purchase from the distributor, Gazelle Books.  For direct customers Gazelle have set up a promotional offer which will allow you to buy the book at a 20% discount, with free postage.

To order, go to the book’s page on the Gazelle website here:    and click the ‘Buy’ button beneath the book image.
Use Promo Code GAZFOLK1 when prompted during the ordering process.
Amazon will have stock soon but Gazelle’s offer is cheapest right now.

In the US and Canada Lancashire Folk is available from Schiffer Publishing direct, Barnes & Noble, or

I can provide signed copies if anyone is interested, but they will be at full price – £19.49 including postage. Email me at if you would like one. If you’re buying the book as a gift, the recipient won’t be disappointed; the internal design of the book is in full colour and very attractive (as well as being full of fascinating stories).  A lovely present…

Posted in Boggart, Book, Fairies, folklore, Ghosts, Green Men, Holy Wells, Lancashire, Skulls, Stones, Uncategorized, Way Crosses, White Lady, Witches & Wizards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Huntroyd Hall, Simonstone


In 1594, no less than seven members of a Huntroyd family were possessed by evil spirits. Nicholas Starkie and his wife lived in the large house with their two children, John and Anne. The children were the first to be afflicted by spirits and an exorcist by the name of Edmund Hartlay was summoned. Hartlay rapidly dealt with the spirits by the use of magical spells, but it seems he was unwilling to leave. He told the Starkies that only his continued presence in the house would prevent a recurrence of the trouble. He even went so far to demand forty shillings a year, on top of his free accommodation.

Three years later, Nicholas Starkie was growing increasingly tired of his house-guest and told Hartlay he must leave. There was a heated argument and then it became apparent that the two children were once again possessed – as were two of the servants, Starkie’s three female wards and an innocent visitor to the house. All eight began shouting and shrieking and Hartlay was blamed; it was said that he had breathed the Devil into whoever he had kissed in greeting. The ‘possessions’ lasted for days; the afflicted suffered terrifying delusions such as imagining beasts were inside their own bodies, seeing huge angry dogs before them and hearing voices. They ran about madly and one even tried to hurl herself from a window. They spoke in strange tongues at great speed, they howled and shook with fear.

Dr John Dee, Queen Elizabeth’s own astrologer and alchemist, was called to assist in exorcising the afflicted, but he refused to be involved with such meddling, which he saw as conjuring on the part of Hartlay. He suggested that religious men be summoned instead. The two ministers who attended were George More and John Darrell and it is the latter we have to thank for writing down all that transpired at Cleworth and for giving the poor afflicted people the name ‘demoniacs’. More and Darrell gathered all the demoniacs together and laid them on couches. They brought thirty people to pray with them for an entire day. By the next day, all eight were delivered from their torment, although some of them were reported to bleed from the mouth and nose as the deliverance occurred.

As Edmund Hartlay was clearly responsible for the so-called ‘demonic possessions’, he was tried for witchcraft at Lancaster Castle. At first, the judge could find no basis on which to convict him, despite the trouble he had caused. Then Starkie came forward and swore that he had seen Hartlay draw a magic circle into which he had invited Starkie to step. This kind of witchcraft was a felony so, much as Hartlay denied doing anything of the kind, he was sentenced to death.

Darrell wrote about the case in a book, accusing the family of Starkie’s wife (who had been married before, to Thomas Barton of Smithells Hall) of bringing about the whole affair by their prayers. They were Catholics and were said to have prayed for the death of all her male children from both her marriages, so that Cleworth would not be inherited by them. Whatever the reason, Starkie’s two children John and Anne suffered no lasting damage from their demonic experiences; Anne grew up and married happily, and John became Sheriff of Lancashire.

Image:  W Farrer and J Brownbill eds. – The Victoria History of the County of Lancaster Vol 6, Public Domain,
Posted in Demonic Possession, Halls and Houses | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Wedding Divination – Yorkshire

Okay so Yorkshire isn’t Lancashire, but since Lancashire Folk is almost in the bookshops, it’s on to the next in the series. Strictly speaking, Greater Manchester will be the next book, but I happened to find this the other day and found it intriguing. This is not a custom I had come across before. It would be interesting to know if modern young marrieds still throw plates of cake out of the window!

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 02 July 1853

“Wedding Divination.—Being lately present on the occasion of a wedding, at a town in the East Riding Yorkshire, I was witness to the following custom, which seems to take rank as a genuine scrap of folk-lore. On the bride alighting from her carriage at her father’s door, a plate covered with morsels of Bride-cake flung from a window of the second storey upon the heads of the crowd congregated in the street below, and the divination, I was told, consists in observing the fate which attends its downfall. If it reach the ground in safety, without being broken, the omen is most unfavourable one. If, on the other hand, the plate be shattered to pieces, the better, and the auspices are looked upon as most happy.”— Notes and Queries.

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Samlesbury Hall – Bells, Witches, and a White Lady

a Samlesbury - Samlesbury Hall

During the Lancashire cotton riots in 1878, a young sub-altern was garrisoned with his company at Samlesbury Hall, near Blackburn. In the early morning he was awakened by the sound of a woman crying bitterly in the corridor outside his room. He got out of bed to investigate but could find no one; the next morning he mentioned this to his host and hostess and saw the look that passed between them. He had witnessed the White Lady of Samlesbury Hall.

In 1926, when he was an elderly Colonel, he wrote to the London Morning Post and told them the whole story. In view of the years that had passed, the Colonel may have misremembered the details when he wrote his letter, but he certainly experienced something that morning which he was never able to satisfactorily explain.

In I960 the papers again carried reports of strange happenings at Samlesbury Hall and on the road close by. Several motorists had reported seeing a woman dressed in white at the roadside – some stopped to offer her assistance or a lift, others saw her walk into the road and were sure they had hit her, only to be shocked when they realised that she wasn’t really there. A couple walking their dog saw a woman in a light-coloured coat walking towards them – she passed them without lifting her feet, in effect walking straight through the dog’s lead. A bus driver stopped at the bus-stop outside Salmesbury Old Hall to pick up a lady in a white coat, who had promptly disappeared. The driver had then had an argument with the conductor, who swore no-one had been waiting at all.

It is assumed that all these incidents were sightings of Lady Dorothy, the White Lady of Salmesbury Old Hall, although the staff at Samlesbury Hall claim never to have seen the White Lady and are sceptical of her existence.

In the 16th century, Samlesbury Hall was the seat of the Southworth family, who were Catholics. Like many Lancashire families, they risked their lives by giving sanctuary to priests hiding from the authorities. Sir John Southworth supported Mary Queen of Scots and wished to see her reinstated on the throne. His nephew John was ordained as a priest and later canonised as the last Catholic to die for his faith in England. His son Christopher was an equally devout defender of their faith and it is he who is the villain of this piece, for unfortunately his love of his religion caused him to turn against his two of his own family members: Jane, and Dorothy. He conspired for Jane to be tried as a witch and he also murdered Dorothy’s Protestant lover.

Jane came to be tried as a witch in 1612 because she began to show signs of taking up the Protestant faith. In all, nine Samlesbury people were accused of witchcraft, three of whom, Jane Southworth and Janet and Ellen Bierley, were taken to Lancaster to be tried. The case was regarded as so important that it was tried in the same assize session as the infamous Pendle witch trial.

The main witness was a simple girl of 14, Grace Sowerbutts of Samlesbury, the granddaughter of Janet Bierley and the niece of Ellen. Grace accused all three women of bewitching her so that she began to waste away and she said that her grandmother Janet had turned herself into a black dog which had walked on its hind legs and tried to talk Grace into drowning herself. All three women were accused of taking Grace to a twice-weekly Sabbath on the banks of the River Ribble where they were joined in their demonic parties by ‘four black things, going upright, and yet not like men in the face…” Fortunately, the judge found Grace’s statements hard to believe and cross-examined her. Under pressure, she admitted that she had been persuaded to denounce the women by Christopher Southworth. Jane and the others were acquitted and Christopher’s plot against his own sister-in-law was foiled.

Christopher’s treatment of his sister Dorothy was to prove even more tragic. Dorothy fell in love with a young man of the de Hoghton family, from nearby Hoghton Towers; he would have been suitable enough had he not renounced his faith in favour of the Church of England. Dorothy’s father strictly forbade the union but true love never will be denied and Dorothy and her lover continued to meet and planned an elopement. Unfortunately Christopher became aware of this plan, ambushed de Hoghton and his attendant and murdered them outside Dorothy’s bedroom window. Dorothy witnessed the awful deed, threw herself from the window and was killed. Another version of the story claims that Dorothy was sent away to a convent on the continent and there went mad with grief and died.

Credence was lent to this story in 1826 when road construction work near the Hall uncovered two human skeletons. Unfortunately, the Southworth pedigree shows that Sir John had no daughter named Dorothy. Perhaps she may have married into the family, in which case she would not have been recorded in the pedigree. Not far away is – or was – Old Pleasington Hall, and a daughter of the family there was called Dorothy. This Dorothy married a Southworth, then a de Hoghton, then Thomas Ainsworth, who was likewise a Protestant. On the other hand, it was not unusual for families to arrange for any member who had transgressed beyond forgiveness to be totally excised from the records. But despite the difficulty of proving exactly who the White Lady is, if you should be driving down the A677 past the beautiful black and white building that is Samlesbury Hall, be aware that if you see a lady dressed in white standing by the roadside, she isn’t really there . . . particularly if the month is August, for this is the anniversary of her death.

Another ghost haunts the interior of the Hall; a male ghost who apparently prefers blondes, who feel a gentle tug on their hair. The ghost is thought to be Joseph Harrison who bought the Hall in the 1860s. Just after Christmas in 1878, learning by letter that his bank holding all his monies had collapsed, he killed himself with one shot to the head.

When another Lord of Samlesbury died, a man-servant was appointed to stay with the body in the Old Hall before the Lord’s burial in the churchyard. During the night, the servant awoke to the sound of piano music in the room below, a mournful dirge accompanied by screams of sorrow. The music repeated at intervals and did not finally stop until daylight came. Needless to say, the servant refused to spend another night in the Old Hall.

The bells at Samlesbury Old Hall also have a habit of sounding all by themselves. One employee half a century ago was often disturbed by the courtyard door bell ringing, when no-one was waiting outside. On one occasion he was upstairs by a window and so was sure that no-one had come up the drive to the Hall, but he still went to open the door when the bell rang – only to find no-one there.

The Hall was bought in the 1920s by a Preservation Committee, who soon noticed that the line of old room-bells had a habit of ringing on their own. A member of the committee was walking past the row of bells one day when one of them rang, but on investigation he found that only two other people were in the building and neither was responsible. On another occasion the caretaker was showing some visitors around the place and as they approached the oriel window, one of the room-bells rang. One of the visitors investigated, sure he would prove a natural cause, but he could not. Then, as they descended the stairs, another of the party saw a woman wearing an old-fashioned dress, her hair loose, with an odd faintness to her appearance. Assured that no-one of that description was actually in the building, the party left convinced they had seen the famous White Lady.

Finally, inside Samlesbury Hall there is a 14th century Green Man, carved into one of the stair panels on the outside of the staircase.

Posted in Bell, Ghosts, Halls and Houses, Samlesbury, Uncategorized, White Lady | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

St Andrew’s Church, Leyland – and its monstrous cat.

St Andrew's Church Leyland

Long ago, the people of Whittle-le-Woods set about building a church. All the townspeople helped, so that by the end of the first day the foundations were already laid. The next morning, the priest was visited by a farmer from Leyland, complaining about the church which was being built upon his land without permission. Confused, the priest followed him and found that, indeed, the foundations laid down the day before in Whittle-le-Woods were now firmly set in a field in Leyland!

The townspeople were gathered and spent the day moving the stones back to their proper place and, that night, two of them kept watch so that such a thing could not happen again. However, they were so tired by their exertions that they fell asleep and woke to find that the stones had indeed been moved again, to Leyland.

Once again the stones were moved back to Whittle-le-Woods and that night even more men stayed to keep watch, determined to catch the culprit. This time they managed to keep each other awake and at the stroke of midnight, they were frightened out of their wits by the sight of a terrifying beast like a huge cat, which carried off the stones one by one in his huge claws. Unsurprisingly, they were too scared to approach the beast and the Leyland farmer, hearing their tale, was too scared to argue. So the church stayed where it was, in Leyland.

If you doubt this story, look closely at the stones of this church, for on one of them there is a carving of the great cat itself.

Image © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Posted in animals, Church, Local Legends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments