Samlesbury Hall is renowned as one of the most haunted locations in Britain. Resident spirits include the legendary White Lady, Dorothy Southworth who died of a broken heart and has since been seen on many occasions within the Hall and grounds.
One particular spot in the Great Hall is the place where strange things regularly happen – a slap to the back of the head, uncomfortable feelings by wedding guests and a shadow passing have all been reported. – (see the GHOST page of Samlesbury Hall’s website).
We used to drive past Samlesbury Hall every summer en route to visit my grandmother. As a young child I was intrigued by this beautiful black-and-white building and by the tales of ghosts and witches my mother would tell us. In fact on one occasion we were sure we saw a shadowy figure behind a window. (Remarkable eyesight we must have had as the place has small windows with thick glass, is set well back from the road and we were in a moving vehicle). Coincidentally my mother had seen a similar figure when she was a child travelling with her dad in his fruit&veg lorry.
Now that I live in Lancashire, this place is just a half hour drive away and I often pass it and it still looks as mysterious as ever.
Samlesbury Hall was built around 1325 by Gilbert de Southworth and its history is full of tales of religious wars, noblemen, Mary Queen of Scots, witchcraft trials, ill-fated lovers, hidden skeletons and much, much more. Here’s an example from the excellent website Samlesbury Hall :
His body was hung, drawn and quartered and sent to the furthest four parts of the country. His followers then brought the four parts of his body back, sewed them together and par boiled his corpse where it remained in ‘safety’ in France
The victims were tried at Lancaster Assizes in August of that year on a charge of witchcraft, where they were accused of boiling an infant and eating the soup
The Southworth family, despite their wealth and power (or maybe because of them!), weren’t the luckiest bunch of folk in Lancashire throughout history.
Little wonder they came back to haunt the place!
It is reported that Dorothy Southworth, daughter of Sir Thomas Southworth fell in love with the son of the neighbouring Protestant noble family. One of the De Hoghtons of Hoghton Tower. The families refused to let young lovers meet, but they continued to do so in secret and planed to elope.
However, on the night of the escape Dorothy’s brother killed not only the young De Hoghton but two of his accomplices too.
Dorothy is said to have gone insane before dying at a convent abroad. Three human skeletons were found hidden in the walls of Samlesbury Hall and it is rumoured that Dorothy (The white lady) continues to roam the Hall and along Preston New Road searching for her lover.
Other ghost sightings are well documented across the internet (many with photographic “evidence”) including:
A woman dragging a child behind her
A decapitated priest who haunts the Priests’ Room
A ghostly 6-horse funeral procession seen in the driveway
A one-eyed toothless man who followed an American visitor back to his London hotel where he manifested as a lift attendant.
And so on……..
But in a lighter vein, if you visit nowadays in the summer season, there’s a man who dresses up as King Henry Vlll and will lead you on a Tudor Tour around the Hall . Some of these tours are free too, so ghost sightings are not included.
We can offer a half or full day visit; whether you need a guided visit with a specialist tour guide, or just a wander through the rooms at will.
Meet our resident witch, who will enthral you with the true history of the Samlesbury witches, in her own eccentric manner.
Take a tour with Lancashire’s own Simon Entwistle, the master of spookiness who will also guide you through the fascinating and eerie ghost tales of Lancashire. (Historic Houses website)
I’m going to pop in again when its quiet (though not deserted) and take some more photographs. Who knows what I’ll see?