Looming above the junction of Stainland Road and Rochdale Road at Greetland, Clay House is one of the most imposing ancient structures in the Lower Calder Valley and a familiar sight to anybody heading along the old road from Elland to Salterhebble. The current four-gabled house was built by the Clay family between 1650 and 1661 on the site of an earlier house which is mentioned as far back as 1296. The estate was purchased by Greetland Urban District Council in 1923 and the grounds converted into a park which today marks the start of the Calderdale Way. Whilst public access to the grounds is still permitted, the house is now used for social functions and only open on certain days of the year.
In an article in the Brighouse Echo dated 11th September 1981, Mr. Ronald Innes, a former director of Calderdale Museums who was living out his retirement in a flat at Clay House, relates that the building was believed to be haunted by the ghost of a pretty girl called Jane, who stalks the house in a white dress weeping. The story goes that she fell in love with a man beneath her class and so was imprisoned in the hall to prevent her meeting him. Certainly a Jane Clay is recorded as living there between 1693 and 1709. She was married twice but the her first husband George Hopkins, the scion of the Clay family died in 1698. Whether she is the source of the legend is unclear.
For a first-hand account of supernatural phenomena at Clay House, albeit entirely different to that told by Mr. Innes, we must turn to the book Paranormal West Yorkshire in which Andy Owens relates the experience of Ms. Jayne Hewitt, formerly of West Vale, who used to walk her dog in the grounds of Clay House. One dark winter’s evening, she was walking up the driveway which leads from Rochdale Road and as she approached the house was overcome by a strange sensation of unease. Upon looking to her left where several trees border the drive for a split second saw the image of a man hanging from one of the trees. Unsurprisingly, she quickly fled the scene and never returned after dark again.