When I had COVID, my “use it or lose it” style of podcasting plan led to me recording three episodes. I have virtually no idea what’s in them, except that I swept a history of English haunted houses for stories that are Elizabethan and before. Thanks to the Librivox recording teams.

Usually I script in advance, but this time I’ll be transposing in the recordings and adding my comments in bold. I wonder what they will be? Off on an adventure, dear listeners! I’m not going to transcribe all my ramblings.

SAMLESBURY HALL

The famous old Samlesbury Hall stands about half-way between Preston and Blackburn. It is placed in a broad plain, looking southwards towards the woody heights of Hoghton ; eastwards towards the lofty ridges which run through Mellor and Billington to Pendle ; Preston and the broad estuary of the Ribble occupy the western prospect, whilst northwards, Longridge, leading towards the heights of Bowland, fills the scene : enclosing a landscape,” remarks Mr. T. T. Wilkinson, “which for picturesque beauty and historic interest has few equals
in the country.”

Samlesbury is famed in occult lore as the place whence Grace Sowerbutts and other notorious witches came. They were tried for witchcraft early in the seventeenth century, but escaped the fate generally meted out in those days to supposed members of the sisterhood, because, notwithstanding the fact that some of them had confessed their guilt, they were acquitted as impostors. Whilst their neighbours, from Tendle, Demdike, ChafFox, &c, were condemned and hanged as genuine sorcerers, the Samlesbury witches were let off as counterfeits. The eerie reputation acquired by Samlesbury may have partially arisen in consequence of these alleged dealings in the black art by its weird daughters, but that the haunting of the old Hall arose from quite a different cause local tradition guarantees. Harland’s Lancashire Legends traces the history of the famous old building back to the early part of the reign of Henry the Second, when Gospatric de Samlesbury was residing in an ancestral home occupying the site now covered by the present Hall. His dwelling was surrounded by rich pastures and was shut in by the primaeval forests of oak from which the massive timbers were obtained out of which was formed the framework of the structure still standing. This magnificent building was erected during the reign of Edward the Third.

11 The family pedigrees tell us,” says Harland,” that Cicely de Salmesbury married John de Ewyas about the middle of the thirteenth century ; but, dying without male heir, his daughter was united to Sir Gilbert de Southworth, and the property thus acquired remained in the possession of his family for upwards of three hundred and fifty years. It was then sold to the Braddylls, and ultimately passed into the hands of Joseph Harrison, Esq., of Galligreaves, Blackburn; whose eldest son, William Harrison, Esq., now resides at the Hall.” After the disposal of the property by John Southworth, Esq., in 1677, the house was suffered to fall into decay. For many years it was occupied by a number of cottagers ; it was afterwards converted into a farmhouse, and passed through various stages of degradation from neglect. Mr. Harrison, however, determined that
this fine old structure should be no longer thus desecrated.

With a wise and just appreciation he restored both the exterior and the interior of the house in accordance with their original design ; and under his hands the Old Hall at Samlesbury has become one of the most interesting and instructive mansions in the county. ” Sir John Southworth was the most distinguished personage of his race. He was high in military command during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth he mustered three hundred men at Berwick; and served the office of Sheriff of Lancashire in 1562. His possessions included Southworth, Samlesbury, Mellor, besides lands in eighteen other townships ; but he was illiterate, bigoted, and self-willed. His rigid devotion to the faith of his ancestors led him to speak rashly of the changes introduced into the national religion; he also acted unwisely in contravening the laws, for which he was ultimately cast into prison, and otherwise treated with much severity until his death in 1595.

“Tradition states that during his later years one of his daughters had formed an acquaintance with the heir of a neighbouring knightly house. The attachment was mutual, and nothing was wanting to complete their happiness except the consent of the lady’s father. Sir John was thereupon consulted ; but the tale of their devoted attachment only served to increase his rage,
and he dismissed the supplicants with the most bitter denunciations. * No daughter of his should ever be united to the son of a family which had deserted its ancestral faith,’ and he forbade the youth his presence for ever. Difficulty, however, only served to increase the ardour of the devoted lovers ; and after many secret interviews among the wooded slopes of the Kibble, an elopement was agreed upon, in the hope that time would bring her father’s pardon.

The day and place were unfortunately overheard by one of the lady’s brothers, who was hiding in a thicket close by, and he determined to prevent what he considered to be his sister’s disgrace. ” On the evening agreed upon both parties met at the hour appointed ; and as the young knight moved away with his betrothed, her brother rushed from his hiding-place, and slew both him and two friends by whom he was accompanied. The bodies were secretly buried within the precincts of the domestic chapel at the Hall; and Lady Dorothy was sent abroad to a convent where she was kept under strict surveillance. Her mind at last gave way the name of her murdered lover was ever on her lips, and she died a raving maniac. Some years ago three human skeletons were found near the walls of the Hall, and popular opinion
has connected them with the tradition. The legend also states that on certain clear, still evenings, a lady in white can be seen passing along the gallery and the corridors, and then from the Hall into the grounds : that she then meets a handsome knight who receives her on his bended knees, and he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a certain spot, most probably the lover’s grave, both the phantoms stand still, and as they seem to utter soft wailings of despair, they embrace each other, and then their forms rise slowly from the earth and melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky.”

Let’s assume the wails of the unquiet dead are dangerous, either physically or psychologically. Let us further posit that the grave is that of the lover. So, under medieval theology the place of the skull is the place of the grave. Were you to move the skull, the knight would go there, and the lady would similarly, follow to the new location. They will rise screaming into the sky from there. So, if you know that a person will be at a certain place on the fated day, you can put the skull there and use it as a land mine in their basement. The next morning, when people are trying to work out why everyone is the building has gone gibberingly mad, you take the skull and put it somewhere similarly useful, and wait a year. At worst someone finds the buried skull, but you have no direct connection to it. Eventually some ghostly knights might turn up and hassle you, but you’re a magician: you can handle them presumably.

SYKES LUMB FARM

“In a secluded dell, on the banks of Mellor Brook’ says Mr. T. T. Wilkinson, “not far from the famous old Hall of Samlesbury, near Blackburn ” (a haunted old Hall whereof an account will be found in these pages), ” stands a lonely farm-house, which was occupied for many generations by a family named Sykes. They gave their name to the homestead, or vice versa, on its being cleared from the forest ; and, from the fact of the pastures lying at a short distance from a broad
and deep portion of the brook, it became generally known by the name of Sykes Lumb Farm.”

This Sykes family, however, as Mr. Wilkinson records, have long since passed to dust, and many generations of strangers have dwelt on their lands, but the doings of one particular member of the race have been handed down, from year to year, by tradition, and still exercise a potent influence upon the minds of the surrounding population. Before referring to the especial tradition for which Sykes Lumb Farm is noted, it may be as well to point out that it possesses an uncanny reputation for a supernatural inhabitant other than the apparition from which its fame is chiefly derived.

In one work by Mr. Wilkinson it is referred to as the residence of a noted boggart, or domestic familiar, in these terms : “When in a good humour, this noted goblin will milk the cows, pull the hay, fodder the cattle, harness the horses, load the carts, and stack the crops. When irritated by the utterance of some unguarded expression or marked disrespect, either from the farmer or his servants, the cream-mugs are then smashed to atoms, no butter can be obtained by churning, the horses and other cattle are turned loose, or driven into the woods, two cows will sometimes be found fastened in the same stall, no hay can be pulled from the mow ; and all the while the wicked imp sits grinning with delight upon one of the cross-beams in the barn. At other times the horses are unable to draw the empty carts across the farm-yard ; if loaded, they are upset, whilst the cattle tremble with fear without any visible cause. IS or do the inmates of the house experience any better or gentler usage. During the night the clothes are said to be violently torn from off the beds of the offending parties, whilst, by invisible hands, they themselves are dragged down the stone stairs by the legs, one step at a time, after a most uncomfortable manner.”

The way in which this boggart is described as haunting Sykes Lumb Farm is in no way out of the
common, especially in Lancashire and the neighbouring counties, but it is of interest in this case, as showing the popular belief that the place is troubled in some way. In what way the house and grounds are really believed to be, or, until recently, to have been, haunted is thus described in Eoby and Wilkinson’s “Lancashire Legends, and William Dobson’s Rambles by the Ribble. In the days when the farm was owned by old Sykes and his wife, careful living and more than ordinary thrift enabled the old couple to gather together a fair amount of wealth, which, added to the continual hoarding of the farmer’s ancestors, caused the pair to be regarded as wonderfully rich, in those days. Whatever the facts as to their wealth may have been, they saw its possession ultimately jeopardized by civil troubles and national famine. It was their chief, if not their only object of affection, as they had neither son nor daughter, nor any other object upon which to expend their love ; therefore, the risk of losing it gave them more than ordinary anxiety.

Old Sykes does not appear to have clung to their darling hoard with half the affection displayed by his worthy consort ; her dread of losing it was intense. Besides, says our chief authority, she had no ” notion of becoming dependent upon the bounty of the Southworths of the Hall, nor did she relish the idea oi soliciting charity at the gates of the lordly Abbot of Whalley. The treasure was therefore carefully secured in earthenware jars, and was then buried deep Beneath the roots of an apple-tree in the orchard. Years passed away, and the troubles of the country did not cease. The Yorkists at length lost the ascendancy, and the reins of government passed into the hands of the Lancastrians ; until at last the northern feud was healed by the mingling of the White Rose with the Red.

Henry VII. sat upon the throne with Elizabeth of York as Queen ; but, ere peace thus blessed the land, old Sykes had paid the debt of nature, and left his widow the sole possessor of their buried wealth. She, too, soon passed away ; and, as the legend asserts, so suddenly that she had no opportunity to disclose the place where she had deposited her treasure. Rumour had not failed to give her the credit of being possessed of considerable wealth ; but, although her relatives made diligent search, they were unsuccessful in discovering the place of the hidden jars.

The farm passed into other hands, and old Sykes’s wife might have been forgotten had not her ghost, unable to find rest, continued occasionally to visit the old farm-house. Many a time, in the dusk of the evening, have the neighbouring peasants met an old wrinkled woman, dressed in ancient garb, passing along the gloomy road which leads across the Lumb, but fear always prevented them from speaking. She never lifted her head, hut helped herself noiselessly along by means of a crooked stick, which bore no resemblance to those then in use. At times she was seen in the old barn, on other occasions in the house, but more frequently in the orchard, standing by an apple-tree which still flourished over the place where the buried treasure was
afterwards said to have been found. Generations passed away, and still her visits continued. One informant minutely described her withered visage, her short quaintly-cut gown, her striped petticoat, and her stick. He was so much alarmed that he ran away from the place, notwithstanding that he had engaged to perform some urgent work. * She was not there/ he gravely said, ‘ when I went to pluck an apple, but no sooner did I raise my hand towards the fruit, than she made her appearance just before me. At last, it is said, an occupier of the farm, when somewhat elated by liquor, ventured to question her as to the reasons of her visits. She returned no answer, but, after moving slowly towards the stump of an old apple-tree, she pointed significantly towards a portion of the orchard which had never been disturbed. On search being made, the treasure was found deep down in the earth, and as the soil was being removed, the venerable-looking shade was seen standing on the edge of the trench. When the
last jar was lifted out, an unearthly smile passed over her withered features ; her bodily form became less and less distinct, until at last it disappeared altogether. ” Since then the old farm-house has ceased to be haunted. Old Sykes’s wife is believed to have found eternal rest; but there are yet many, both old and young, who walk with quickened pace past the Lumb whenever they are belated, fearful lest they should be once more confronted with the dreaded form of its unearthly visitor.”

So wizards with an open mindset could find this ghost. I’m not sure why she’s so scary to the locals. As good Christians they believe in life after death anyway, and if they see her, she occasionally points to a stump with treasure in it. There are far worse hauntings to have.

WADDOW HALL

Mr. William Dobson’s interesting Rambles by the Bibble, furnish one or two accounts of local dwellings labouring under the uncanny odour of being haunted. Mr. Dobson, although evidently no believer in ghosts, and unable to resist the temptation of having a fling at their erratic courses, tells of their doings with a chronicler’s exactitude.

Writing in 1864, our authority says that Waddow Hall, in the township of Waddington, Yorkshire, was then in the occupation of James Garnett, Esquire, Mayor of Clitheroe. The property of the Ramsden family, Waddow Hall is situated in a pleasant park, which, though not of great extent, is of great beauty. The house stands on a knoll, with pleasant woodlands about it. At the foot of a gentle slope flows the Eibble ; the castle and church of Clitheroe are seen to advantage, the smoke only indicating where the town of Clitheroe lies, an intervening hill hiding the town itself
from view. The mansion contains many portraits of its former owners and various members of their family, but the main interest of Waddow appears to arise from its being the scene of an old legend, which the folks of Clitheroe and the neighbouring Yorkshire villages are never weary of repeating, and for the truth of which they are perfectly willing to vouch. Many of the older inhabitants of Clitheroe and Waddington would as soon doubt the Scriptures as they would a single iota of the following tradition.

In the grounds of Waddow and near the banks of the Kibble, there is a spring called Peg o’ Nell’s Well, and good water the spring sendeth forth in plenty. Near the spring is a headless, now almost shapeless figure, said to be a representation of the famous Peg herself. Peg o’ Nell, as I learned, says Mr. Dobson, was a young woman who, in days of yore, was a servant at Waddow Hall. On one occasion she was going to the well for water, the very well that to this day supplies the Hall with water for culinary purposes. She had had a quarrel with the lord or lady of Waddow, who, in a spirit of anger, not common, it is to be hoped, with masters and mistresses, wished that she might fall and break her neck. It was winter, and the ground was coated with ice; her pattens tripped in some way or other, Peggy fell, and the sad malediction was fully realised. To be revenged on her evil wisher, Peggy was wont to revisit her former home in the spirit, and torment her master and mistress by making night hideous.”

Every disagreeable noise that was heard at Waddow was attributed to Peggy; every accident that occurred in the neighbourhood was through Peggy. No chicken was stolen, no cow died, no sheep strayed, no child was ill, no youth ” took bad ways,” but Peg was the evil genius. “When a Waddow farmer had stopped too long at the ‘ Dule ups’ Dun,’ and going home late had slipped off the hipping-stones at Brunerley into the river, or a Clitheroe burgess, when in Borland, had, like ‘Tarn o’ Shanter’ sat too long ‘fast by an ingle bleezing finely/ while ‘ the ale as
growing better/ and had fallen off his horse in going home, and broken a limb, it was not the host’s liquor that was charged with the mishap, but on Peggy’s shoulders that the blame was laid.”

What was worse, in addition to these perpetual annoyances, every seven years Peg required a life ; and the story is that ” Peg’s Night,” as the time of sacrifice at each anniversary was called, was duly observed ; and if no living animal were ready as a septennial offering to her manes, a human being became inexorably the victim. Consequently it grew to be the custom on “Peg’s Night” to drown a bird, or a cat, or a dog in the river, and, a life being thus given, for another seven years Peggy was appeased.

One night, at an inn in the neighbourhood, as the wind blew and the rattling showers rose on the blast, ” and as the swollen Kibble roared over the hipping stones, a young man, not in the soberest mood, had to go from Waddington to Clitheroe. No bridge then spanned the Bibble at Bungerley ; the only means of crossing the river was by the stones, which Henry the Sixth, in his last struggle for liberty, had tripped over towards ‘ Clitherwood.’ He was told he must not venture over the water, it was not safe. He must be at Clitheroe that night, was his response, and go he would.

“But,’ said the young woman of the inn, by way of climax to the other arguments used to induce him not to go onward, *it ‘s Peg o’ Nell’s night, and she has not had her life.’ He cared not for Peg o’ Nell ; he laughed at her alleged requirement, gave loose to his horse’s rein, and was soon at Bungerley. The following morning horse and rider had alike perished, and, of course, many believed the calamity was through Peg’s malevolence.” Peg, it is averred, is still as insatiable as ever, and many would dread to dare her wrath.

So, a living embodiment of Murphy’s Law, which becomes increasingly powerful until a life is taken seems like a useful contact in your grimoire. A sprit that can sow confusion in your enemeis for the price of a chicken? If you’re one of those carnivorous people you can even eat the chicken afterwards, so there’s little cost in the process. An extremely economical spell.

BURTON AGNES HALL

Amongst the haunted houses of Great Britain those which are the permanent residence of certain skulls are the most curious. Various grand old halls, quaint farm-houses, and ancient dwellings, scattered about the kingdom, are troubled at times by all kinds of supernatural disturbances, in consequence of some long and carefully preserved skull being removed from its resting place, or otherwise interfered with. These pages furnish several singular instances of such legends connected with old ancestral dwellings, but none more mysterious, or devoutly believed in, than that connected with Burton Agnes Hall, the family seat of Sir Henry Somerville Boynton.

Burton Agnes is a picturesque village, between Bridlington and Driffield, in the East Hiding of Yorkshire. It has some pretty cottages, a handsome church, containing several splendid tombs of the Boynton, Griffiths, and Somerville families (one of the last dating back to 1336), and the grand old Hall, the residence of the Boyntons. The village, which is chiefly, if not entirely, owned by the Boyntons, lies on the slope of the Wolds ; a long chain of hills sweep round it from Flamborough Head on the north, whence extensive views over the lowlands of Holderness are obtainable. The Hall, says Mr. F. Ross, from whose interesting article in the Leeds Mercury much of the following information is derived, is a large and picturesque building of red brick, with stone quoins a mixture of the Tudor, Elizabethan, and Jacobean styles, with a long broken façade, ornamented with octagonal bays in the wings, and mullioned windows.

In the interior are a grand hall, with a fine carved screen, behind which is the magnificent staircase ; a noble gallery, containing a choice collection of paintings an apartment which has not its equal for many miles. All the chief apartments are profusely ornamented with carved woodwork, over the fire-place of the hall being a curious specimen representing ” The Empire of Death.” Inigo Jones is said to have designed the Hall, and Rubens to have decorated some portions of the interior. Inwardly and outwardly, this English home is as magnificent as it it curious yet comfortable. From the grand entrance gateway, an avenue of yew-trees stretches away to the porch of the Hall, producing a picturesque effect.

Yew trees were associated with death in English folklore. Yew was required to make longbows, but its leaves are poisonous to sheep. The way around this was to grow Yew trees in graveyards, which were fenced to stop sheep defecating on graves. Eventually the association of yew to death developed, and so, it’s not creepy to have a line of yew trees, but it is atmospheric.

Standing, as the edifice does, on an elevation, the panorama seen over the surrounding neighbourhood from its windows is both grand and impressive. Altogether, Burton Agnes Hall might be deemed, in every respect, a desirable dwelling. But there is a skeleton, or, rather, a portion of one, in this splendid mansion. In the course of centuries the estates had passed, by descent, into possession of the De Somervilles, Griffiths, and Boynton families, until they became vested in the persons of three sisters, co-heiresses. A painting at the Hall, represents these three ladies in costumes of the Elizabethan period ; and in one of the upper rooms is the portrait of a lady, apparently one of these three, the bodily representative of the spirit which haunts the ancient mansion, and who is familiarly and irreverently called “Awd Nance,” by the domestics. The skull of this lady is preserved at the Hall, much against the will, it is averred, of the inhabitants thereof, but it is more than mortal dare do to remove it. When this relic of mortality is left quietly upon its resting-place, all goes well ; but whenever any attempt is made to remove it, most diabolical disturbances and unearthly noises are raised in the house, and last until it is restored.

I’m never really clear in these sorts of stories why people feel the need to throw the skull away. Juts leave it alone and everything is fine. What’s the upside of taking it out of its little cupboard? This one used to rest on the dining table, but if you’re rich enough to have a country house, how can you not just eat in another room? In the changeover from Catholicism to Protestantism, sure, maybe, but otherwise…leave it alone.

The story to account for these phenomena, as told by Mr. Ross, is as follows :

” The three ladies, co-heiresses of the estate of Burton Agnes, were in possession of considerable wealth, and had : very exalted ideas of the dignity of the family. For a while they resided in the ancient mansion, which had been the home of several generations of Griffiths and Somervilles ; but it had become dilapidated, and was altogether out of fashion with the existing Elizabethan style of architecture, now merging into the Jacobean, and the three ladies began to think it altogether too mean for the residence of so important a family as theirs. They had many consultations on the subject, and, at length, determined to erect a hall in such a style as should eclipse the splendour of all the mansions in the neighbourhood, even that of the mighty Earls of Northumberland at Leckonfield, a few miles distant.

The most active promoter of the scheme was Anne, the younger sister, who could talk, think, and dream of nothing but the magnificent home to be erected for themselves and their descendants. Money they had in abundance. They called in the best architects of the day to furnish designs ; bricklayers, masons, and carpenters were soon at work building up the mansion, and then, for the decorative portions, the genius of Inigo Jones and the talents of Rubens were employed on whatever portion of the interior that was susceptible of artistic treatment. In process of time it emerged from the hands of artists and workmen, like a
palace erected by the Genii of the Arabian Nights, a palace encrusted throughout on walls, roof, and furniture with the most exquisite carvings and sculptures of the most skilled masters of the age, and radiant with the most glowing tints of the pencil of Peter Paul.

“Of the three sisters, Anne took the most lively interest in the new house. She witnessed the uprising walls, the development of the architectural features of the grand façade, and the outgrowth of the chiselled design of the interior under the cunning handicraft of the carvers and sculptors, with the most rapturous “delight ; and, when it was completed, could never sufficiently admire its symmetrical proportions, noble hall, stately gallery, and manifold artistic enrichments.

” Some little time after its completion and occupation by its lady owners, Anne, the enthusiast, paid an afternoon visit to the St. Quentin’s, at Harpham, about nightfall proposing to return home. She was wholly unattended, excepting by a dog, as the houses were only about a mile apart, singing merrily as she went along. As she approached St. John’s Well, she perceived two ruffianly-looking mendicants stretched on the grass by its side. This was a very numerous and dangerous class, since the dissolution of the monasteries, at whose gates they had been supplied with food, and lived by traversing the country, and going from abbey to priory and priory to abbey, being generally too lazy to apply themselves to work ; and although parochial Poor Laws had been passed in the two or three preceding reigns, it had been left in a great measure to the people to contribute to the poor funds, more by way of a benevolence than as a compulsory rate, so that many parishes shirked the collection altogether, and thus the roads of the country and the streets of the towns swarmed with sturdy beggars, who would take no denial when they were able to demand alms by threats and violence.

The lady approached them with some tremor, but did not feel much fear, as she was still within the precincts of Harpham, and not far from those who would afford her protection. The men rose as she came up to them, and asked alms, and she drew out her purse and gave them a few coins ; but in doing so the glitter of her finger-ring attracted their notice, and, in a threatening tone, they demanded that it should be given up to them. As it was a heirloom that she had inherited from her mother, she valued it above all price, and declared she could not, on any account, give up her mother’s ring. ‘ Mother or no mother,’ replied one of the men in a gruff
tone, we mean to have it, and if you do not bestow it freely, we must take it.’ So saying, he seized her hand and attempted to draw off the ring.

At this manifestation of violence she screamed aloud for help, when the other ruffian, exclaiming, ‘Stop that noise !’ struck her a blow on the head with his stick, and she fell senseless to the earth. Her screams had reached the village, and some rustics came hurrying up, upon which the villains made a hasty retreat, without being able to get the ring from her finger.

She was found, as it was supposed, dead or dying, and was carried carefully to Harpham Hall, where, under the care of Lady St. Quentin and the application of restoratives, she recovered sufficiently to be removed the following day to her home. Although she was restored to sensibility she was suffering acutely from the blow, and was placed in bed in a state of utter prostration ; she remained so for a few days, becoming weaker gradually, until, despite the tender nursing of her sisters, and the best medical advice that York could afford, she fell a victim to the brutal attack of the robbers, and was buried in the church of Burton Agnes.

During these few intervening days she was alternately sensible and delirious ; but in whichever state she was, her thoughts seemed to turn on what had latterly been the passion of her life her affection for her fondly loved home. ‘Sisters,’ said she, ‘never shall I sleep peacefully in my grave in the churchyard unless I, or a part of me at least, remain here in our beautiful home as long as it lasts. Promise me this, dear sisters, that when I am dead my head shall be taken from my body
and preserved within these walls. Here let it for ever remain, and on no account be removed. And understand and make it known to those who in future shall become possessors of the house, that if they disobey this my last injunction, my spirit shall, if so able and so permitted, make such a disturbance within its walls as to render it uninhabitable for others so long as my head is divorced from its home’ Her sisters, to pacify her, promised to obey her instructions, but without any intention of keeping the promise, and the body was laid entire and unmutilated under the pavement of the church.

” About a week after the interment, as the inhabitants of the Hall were preparing one evening to retire to rest, they were alarmed by a sudden and loud crash in one of the up-stairs rooms ; the two sisters and the domestics rushed up together in great consternation, but after much trembling came to the conclusion that some heavy piece of furniture had fallen, and the men-servants, of whom there were two in the house, went up-stairs to ascertain the cause of the noise, but were not able to find anything to account for it. The household became still more alarmed at this report, and for a long time were afraid to go to bed; but hearing nothing further, at length retired, and the night passed away without further disturbance.

Nothing more occurred until the same night in the following week, when the inmates were aroused from sleep in the dead of the night by a loud clapping to, seemingly, of half a dozen of the doors. With fear-stricken countenances and hair standing on end, they struck lights and mustered up sufficient courage to go over the house. They found all the doors closed, but for a while the clapping continued, but always in a different part of the house, remote from where they were. At length the disturbance ceased, and as nothing untoward followed the noise of the preceding A-eek, they again ventured to return to their beds, where they lay sleepless and quaking with fear until daylight. “Another week of quietness passed away, but on the corresponding night they were again disturbed by what appeared to be a crowd of persons hurrying along the galleries and up and down the stairs, which was followed by a sound of groaning as from a dying person. On this occasion they were all too terrified to leave their beds, but lay crouching under the bed-clothes perspiring with fear. The following day the female servants fled from the house, refusing to remain any longer in companionship with the ghost which, they all concluded, was the author of the unearthly noises.

The two ladies took counsel with their neighbour, Mr., afterwards Sir, William St. Quintin and the Vicar of the parish. In the course of conversation it occurred to them that the noises took place on the same night of the week that Anne had died, and the sisters remembered her dying words, and their promise that some part of her body should be preserved in the house ; also her threat that if her wish were not complied with, she would, if she were so permitted, render the house uninhabitable for others, and it appeared evident that she was carrying out her threat.

Honestly, a dry skull in a box seems an easy room-mate to have. I’ve had room mates who have left food in the kitchen so long it fermented, who have left blood all over the place…this just seems easy.

The question then was : What was to be done in order to carry out her wish, and the clergyman suggested that the coffin should be opened to see if that could throw any light on the matter. This was done the following day, when a ghastly spectacle presented itself. The body lay without any marks of corruption or decay, but the head was disengaged from the trunk, and appeared to be rapidly assuming the semblance of a fleshless skull.

This was reported to the ladies, who, although terrified at the idea, agreed to the suggestion of the Vicar that the skull should be brought to the house, which was done, and so long as it was allowed to remain undisturbed on the table where it was placed, the house was not troubled
with visitations of a ghostly nature.

This isn’t the main dining table, it’s a side table. I thought she was eventually put in a little box under the stairs ,but that’s Charlie, who is a different screaming skull. We need to do something with these things for Ars Magi9ca: they seem useful as an alarm or a news distribution system. Skulls screaming from the top of one house to another. A high pitched warbling like dialling into the internet in the 1990s.

Terrified ladies? They know the ghost. They know what she wants, and it’s easy to grant. She’s even making her skull portable by severing it herself via some sort of rapid decay. Honestly she’s being massively accommodating for a wronged spectre and I’m entirely on her side.

“Many attempts have since been made to rid the Hall of the skull, but without success ; as whenever it has been removed the ghostly knockings have been resumed, and no rest or peace enjoyed until it has been restored. On one occasion a maid-servant threw it from the window upon a passing load of manure, but from that moment the horses were not able to move the waggon an inch, and despite the vigorous whipping of the waggoner, all their efforts were in vain, until the servant confessed what she had done, when the skull was brought back into the house, and the horses drew the waggon along without the least difficulty.

Were I a powerful haunting spirit, and were I to ask for as little as to be allowed to stay in my own home, were I to be thrown into a cart of animal manure, I would do rather more than stop the cart from moving. Nance is a model of forbearance.

On another, one of the Boyntons caused it to be buried in the garden, when the most dismal wailings and cries kept the house in a state of disquietude and alarm until it was dug up and restored to its place in the Hall, when they ceased.”

I hope the wailings were “Young man! Get your fecking spade and come dig me up right now, or so, help me, I shall haunt you!” Once again, I’m team Nance all the way on this.

A correspondent of Mr. Ross, to whom, indeed, that gentleman was indebted for some of the particulars already given, furnished him with the following account of his own personal experience of the Burton Agnes hauntings, gained during a night spent at the Hall. He writes :
” Some forty years ago, John Bilton, a cousin of mine, came from London on a visit to the neighbourhood, and having a relative, Matthew Potter, who was a gamekeeper on the estate, and resided in the Hall, he paid him a visit, and was invited to pass the night there. Potter, however, told him that, according to popular report, the house was haunted, and that if he
were afraid of ghosts he had better sleep elsewhere ; but John, who was a dare-devil sort of a fellow, altogether untinctured by superstitious fancies, replied,

‘ Afraid ! not I, indeed ; I care not how many ghosts there may be in the house so long as they do not molest me.’

Potter then told him of the skull and the portrait of ‘ Awd Nance,’ and asked him if he would like to see the latter ; the skull, it would appear, from what followed, was not then in the house. He replied that he should like to see the picture, and they passed into the room where it was hanging, and Potter held up the candle before the portrait, when, in a moment, and without any
apparent cause, the candle became extinguished, and defied all attempts at blowing in again and they were obliged to grope their way to the bed-room in the dark.

They occupied the same bed, and Potter was soon asleep and snoring ; but Bilton, ruminating over the tale of the skull and the curious circumstance of the sudden extinguishment of the light in front of the portrait of the ghost, lay awake. When he had lain musing for half an hour, he heard a shuffling of feet outside the chamber door, which at first he ascribed to the servants going to bed, but as the sounds did not cease, but kept increasing, he nudged his bed-fellow, and said, Matty, what the deuce is all that row about? ‘

“Jinny Yewlats” (owls), replied his companion, in a half-waking tone, and turning over, again began to snore.

The noises became more uproarious, and it seemed as if ten or a dozen persons were scuffling about in the passage just outside, and rushing in and out of the rooms, slamming
the doors with great violence, upon which he gave his friend another vigorous nudge in the ribs, exclaiming, ‘ Wake up, Matty ; don’t you hear that confounded row ? What does it all mean?’

‘ Jinnv Yewlats,’ again muttered his bed-fellow.

‘Jinny Yewlats,’ replied Bilton, ‘Jinnv Yewlats can’t make such an infernal uproar as that.’

Matty, who was now more awakened, listened a moment, and then said, ‘ It’s Awd Nance, but
ah nivver take any notice of her,’ and he rolled over and again began to snore.

Sensible young man.

After this ‘ the fun grew fast and furious,’ a struggling fight seemed to be going on outside, and the clapping of the doors reverberated in the passage like thunder-claps. He expected every moment to see the chamber door fly open, and Awd Nance with a troop of ghosts come rushing in, but no such catastrophe occurred, and after a while the noises ceased, and about daylight he fell asleep.

Note that in period, people do not imagine ghosts walking through doors. They, instead, magically make them burst open.

“The writer adds that his cousin, though a fear-nought and a thorough disbeliever in the supernatural, told him that he never passed so fearful a night before in his life, and would not sleep another night in the place if he were offered the Hall itself for doing so. He further adds
that his cousin was a thoroughly truthful man, who might be implicitly believed, and that he had the narrative from his own lips on the following day.”

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