Granny Hall, Slead Syke

As the name suggests, Granny Hall Lane once ran by an ancient edifice known as Granny Hall. It is unclear exactly when the house was built, but it undoubtedly stood in the first half of the Seventeenth Century, as plasterwork in the master bedroom was noted for bearing the arms of King Charles I, who was executed in 1648. The redoubtable local historian, Joseph Horsfall Turner was born at Granny Hall in 1845, but he survived his birthplace, which was demolished in 1907 to reach a bed of sandstone for quarrying. Rose Gardens, at the junction of Blackburn Road with Granny Hall Lane, roughly marks the site of the house today. Supposedly the cellars were never properly filled in, which why the gardens are now suffering from subsidence.

The former grounds have been entirely smothered by modern housing developments and in 1997, a family with a daughter named Sarah moved into just such one residence in the vicinity of Rose Gardens. Over the following years, the family noticed a degree of low-level poltergeist activity in the house and were aware of a “presence”. However, it was only around 2001 that a potential explanation for these occurrences emerged. By this time, Sarah was seven and she had apparently gained an imaginary friend named Chloe. When her mother interrogated her daughter about Chloe, “She said she was the girl who lived in the big house and pointed to the right of her room in the direction of what is known as Rose Gardens on Granny Hall Lane”.

Even more curiously, Sarah added that “Chloe didn’t go to school and she had long yellow hair in a bow and a white dress over a black dress… (and) boots (with) lots of buttons”. This struck Sarah’s mother as an unusually imaginative invention for her daughter, who suffered from Down’s Syndrome, and following Sarah’s revelations, the poltergeist activity began to intensify. The television began to switch itself on in the middle of the night; objects mysteriously vanished, only to reappear weeks later, or else moved about without any visible agency; whilst one evening, the family returned home early to discover every light in the building had somehow sprung into illumination. Sarah’s mother even began to see Chloe herself, albeit infrequently and as nothing more than a shadow in the window-glass.

Eventually, the family consulted a local historian about the history of the area, who told them all about Granny Hall. He was even able to show them an old photograph, which featured “horse and carriage pulling up in front of it and, in the doorway, a lady with her arm round a young girl, and that was definitely Chloe, by Sarah’s description”. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any record of a girl named “Chloe” ever living at Granny Hall and it was not a common English name prior to the Twentieth Century. Nonetheless, a ghost by this name continued to make her presence felt to the family until they moved out in 2009, whereupon Sarah’s mother related the story on the website, Brighouse 247. That web-page has now been removed, but thankfully the story can be preserved.

Copyright Humphrey Bolton and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

The Three Nuns, Cooper Bridge

Although the current building is not the original, a hostelry by this name has stood on the site for centuries and enjoys something of a rich history. The original structure was built in 1497 and following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 it gave refuge to Katherine Grice, Joan Leverthorpe and Cecilia Topcliffe, the last three nuns at Kirklees Priory, from whom the establishment’s name was later taken. A local tradition claims Grice was seduced by one of Henry VIII’s commissioners and upon discovering she was pregnant, she committed suicide by drowning herself in the adjacent stream known as Nunbrook.

It is said that Oliver Cromwell stayed at the inn in 1644 en route to his victory at the Battle of Marston Moor, whilst in 1812 it was used as a meeting place by Luddites prior to their ill-fated assembly at the nearby Dumb Steeple and the subsequent attack on Rawfolds Mill. A collection of their weapons was discovered hidden in the ceiling in the 1920s. Sadly, despite its venerable history, the building was allowed to fall into dereliction and it was entirely rebuilt in 1939. The foundations of the original Three Nuns now lie hidden beneath the car park of the current one. Certain fixtures and fittings were transferred, however, including much of the oak panelling.

On 15th June 1985, the Evening Courier reported on a series a supernatural disturbances experienced by workmen during renovation work at the pub. Site manager Ian Thompson was troubled by doors mysteriously opening and shutting and the sound of feet descending the cellar stairs whilst he knew himself to be alone in the building. He told the newspaper: “I went into the cellar. It’s always cool down there but on that occasion there was a strange sort of chill about the place”. An architect reported a similar experience, whilst a plumber working in the cellar experienced a shadowy figure pushing past him, resembling a woman with a veil over her head.

The workmen attributed the disturbances to a carved ram’s head, part of the oak panelling of the original pub, which they’d discovered concealed behind plastering and removed for the duration of the renovation work. Mr. Thompson commented: “It has very strange eyes. They are almost human”. The whole affair was dismissed by the landlord Glyn Ashley, however, who said: “Frankly I don’t believe there is a ghost – it’s all in the mind. My wife and I have lived here for nine months and we haven’t heard a thing. The theory is that it’s all to do with the ram’s head but as far as I know that was a motif used by Ramsdens (a brewery) before the pub was taken over by Tetleys.”

The ram’s head was returned to its rightful position once the renovations were complete. However, the paranormal phenomena at the establishment clearly persisted as a new landlord was forced to carry out an exorcism in 1991, whilst Stephen Wade reports on more recent occurrences in Haunting In Yorkshire, such as a guest who “insisted he was being watched by a tall grey figure with a beard.” Similarly Kenneth Goor in Haunted Leeds mentions “Customers often complain of an old man who laughs at them, but when they complain to the management about his behaviour he disappears”. Goor also refers to continued poltergeist-like activity and cold spots in the pub.

In addition to the ram’s head, the supernatural manifestations at the Three Nuns have been associated with the unhappy spirit of the suicide, Katherine Grice, or even the Kirklees Prioress who bled Robin Hood to death and has been blamed for apparent vampiric activity in the vicinity of the outlaw’s grave, approximately half a mile from the pub. It has also been suggested that the building lies on a ley line – a conduit of mystical energy – which ran through Robin Hood’s grave and the Alegar Well at Brighouse. Leys are often associated with concentrations of supernatural phenomena, but they have been dismissed as pseudo-science by many sceptical investigators.

5 Church Lane, Brighouse

Church Lane used to connect the centre of Brighouse with its parish church but since 1972 it has been severed by the Ludenscheid Link bypass and the Parsonage Lane car park. Whilst on the north side of the A643, the street continues as a sleepy lane climbing towards St. Martin’s, a small portion of it remains on the south side in the town centre as a barely noticeable conduit between Commercial Street and Gooder Street. Surrounded primarily by the loading areas of commercial properties, it now seems an incongruous location for a residential dwelling but Number 5, Church Lane is exactly that and in November 1985 it was the scene of a significant poltergeist disturbance.

At the time, the house was occupied by Jack and Brenda Mansley, along with their twenty-five year old daughter, Karen, on whom much of the activity was said to be focused. Poltergeist activity has often been correlated with emotionally fragile females but they are more often adolescent or pubescent girls. Glenn MacArthur, a Rastrick based medium, did suggest when he visited the property that the spirits may have latched on to Karen due to the stress of attempting to establish a hairdressing business over the preceding eighteen months. Nonetheless, Karen appears to have been a stable individual with good a familial relationship and was thus not a wholly characteristic candidate for such supernatural attention.

The events themselves included much of the low level activity frequently reported in supposed poltergeist cases, much of which could so easily be attributed to mere absent mindedness. The family would often awake or return to the house to discover lights mysteriously turned on, doors open or taps running. Less trivially, Karen’s married sister Jacqueline visited the house one day whilst the family were away to discover coats strewn across the floor and jewellery boxes emptied as if there had been a burglary. However, nothing had been taken and there was no sign of forced entry. Nobody was found in the house, despite Jacqueline claiming that she had seen the shadow of a person from outside.

The more significant disturbances centred around Karen included the constant creaking of a floorboard in her bedroom at night, as if somebody was walking back and forth across it, and a hammering coming from the walls. On one occasion a three-foot high mirror which was usually propped up against a wall in the room was discovered laid out on her bed beneath the covers, whilst on another, she discovered her birth certificate screwed up in the corner of the room. The events often occurred when the rest of the family was out and it was getting to the point where she was afraid to be in the house alone, especially upstairs where much of the activity occurred.

Medium Glenn MacArthur visited the residence on two occasions. On the first, he claimed to have made contact with the spirit of a young girl who died in the house, speculating that it might be the ghost of Mary Manley, who passed away in 1843 at the age of seven and was buried nearby in the graveyard at St. Martin’s. She was the daughter of James Manley, who had constructed the row known as Commercial Buildings – of which Number 5, Church Lane is a part – in 1836 and whose family became its first occupants. However, it is instructive that Mr. MacArthur had reportedly lost a child himself some years previously and you have to wonder if there was not a degree of projection at work.

However, on his second visit MacArthur alleged to have detected the presence of another spirit, that of an anonymous man who had died in the house sometime in the past. He thought this man was an alcoholic who used to pawn his property to get money to spend on drinking and who was searching the house for something he’d lost or that had been hidden from him. MacArthur believed this individual was responsible for the more substantial occurrences such as the incident with the mirror, whilst the girl had only engaged in more mischievous, low-level activity. However, the medium cautioned that events would yet reach a crescendo before finally dispersing. Whether his prediction was accurate is not recorded.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 20:11  Leave a Comment  
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214 Thornhill Road, Rastrick

First brought to the public attention by Terence Whitaker in his 1983 book Yorkshire’s Ghosts and Legends, the haunting of this cottage in Rastrick has become one of the most famous in the region, having subsequently been picked up by the local press and written about extensively in other books on the paranormal such as Andy Owen’s Yorkshire Stories of the Supernatural. Perhaps it’s because unlike so many hauntings recorded in the local news and preserved in this blog, the case has a number of satisfactory manifestations which go far beyond the typical, prosaic “poltergeist” activity so often cited.

The house is thought to have been erected in 1690 on the site of an old travellers’ inn and the haunting started some two years after Peter and Marilyn Auty moved in, in November 1974. It began with primarily auditory phenomena, such as a high pitched whistling which endured throughout the day, audible over the television, and a succession of bangs and thuds vibrating across the living room ceiling. Perhaps the most curious example, however, was the mysterious overnight ringing of a broken bell missing its clapper which even disturbed their neighbours on successive.

Mrs. Auty first witnessed a visible presence in the living room and again when she was cleaning the staircase. It took the form of a swirl of grey mist coalescing and gliding about before suddenly vanishing. This remained the most common manifestation over the years, whilst much activity was recorded around the staircase in particular. Mrs. Auty’s sister allegedly refused to climb it alone due to the sensation of being watched. The stairs are a relatively recent addition to the house and it is thought there was once a room in the space over which they were built.

On another occasion, one evening at about eight o’clock when Mr. Auty was alone in the house, he saw a cowled figure pass through the living room before his eyes and straight through a solid stone wall. He also added that the figure was cut off at its knees, which is interesting considering that he claimed to have recently raised the level of the floor in that room, leaving the old floor preserved beneath it. Meanwhile, neighbours reported seeing a similar strange figure stood at an upstairs window when the Auty’s were known to be on holiday.

Other occurrences have included the couple hearing their names called in an apparently distressed tone and pictures swaying from side to side on the wall without any obvious draught to disturb them. However, the only indication of any hostility from the presence came when Mrs. Auty was about to leave the house to catch a bus, only to feel a sharp pain at the back of her neck and suddenly find herself sitting on the floor. When she finally made it to the bus stop she learnt that she’d missed the bus by twenty minutes and could not account for the intervening time.

The figure moving across the lounge, cut off at its knees, recalls the famous apparition of Roman centurions marching along the route of buried Roman road seen in the cellars of the Treasurer’s House in York. It suggests that the haunting may not be a sentient presence but rather a event recorded by the fabric of the building and preserved as image which replays itself over and over again. Such a hypothesis is known as a “residual haunting” or “stone tape theory” and has been popular amongst parapsychologists since it was first proposed by T.C. Lethbridge in 1961.

In 2011, Chelsea Bushby,  resident of No. 212, the property next door but originally part of the same building, was plagued by mysterious phenomena similar to that experienced by the Autys. This included the sound of the broken bell and a noise like running footsteps along the upstairs landing. She also witnessed an apparition she described as having “very dark features and longish but mangy patchy stubble and very tired puffy eyes… He had no hat on but a dark thick collar”. Perhaps significantly, Ms. Bushby had no previous knowledge of the building’s haunted history.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 15:19  Comments (1)  
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