If you’re looking for something a little spooky on your holiday, there are plenty of places in Lancashire for the ghost hunter to explore.
The county has a long and rich history; it’s been settled since at least Roman times, with many towns and cities growing up around Roman forts and settlements, and has been the site of many an interesting historical tale. And with this rich history comes something a little darker – ghosts!
The Winter Gardens, Morecambe
The Victoria Pavilion, more commonly known as the Winter Gardens, is a magnificent Victorian theatre looking out over the bay. As we mentioned in an earlier post, it’s known to be home to a few ghosts. In 2009, it was the location chosen by TV’s Most Haunted Live for their Halloween broadcast – and there are often organised ghost hunting nights held there.
It is said that the stage has a good side and a bad side; and if you stand on the bad side, you may find yourself pushed, poked or even slapped by a ghostly entity which lurks there. Ghost hunters have also reported the sound of a woman singing – perhaps one of the famous performers who frequented the stage there in the Victorian era – and figures have been seen in the auditorium, only to vanish when approached.
The Grand Theatre, Lancaster
From one haunted theatre to another; nearby Lancaster’s Grand Theatre is also thought to be frequented by spirits. In this case, the theatre lays claim to a particularly well known ghost, that of 18th century tragedienne Sarah Siddons. She was best known for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth, and performed this role when the Shakespearean production came to the Grand Theatre in 1795.
Today, almost two hundred years after her death, she is said to still walk the boards and occasionally take a rest in the stalls. It’s said that if you speak lines from Macbeth in the theatre, the temperature drops noticeably. If you want to test this, we might suggest Lady Macbeth’s own lines, spoken when her husband confronts Banquo’s ghost:
“O proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear:
This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
Impostors to true fear, would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authorised by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done,
You look but on a stool.”
Standing on a hill above river and town, the Castle is thought to have been founded in the 1090s on the site of a Roman fort, although the buildings standing today date from different eras. It has a long, bloody history; many have languished in its dungeons, from Jacobite rebels to the famous Pendle Witches. For a long time Lancaster was known as the Hanging Town, as the executions for the county were carried out here; until 1800, this was a long trip up to Gallows Hill (now the site of Williamson’s Park), but for some decades thereafter public executions were carried out just outside the castle.
Unsurprisingly, some of those executed are said to linger here; a monk with a noose around his neck has been sighted, and some have reported being shoved by an invisible presence – perhaps that of a long-ago warder accustomed to pushing his prisoners around.
One particular spirit, that of a haggard old lady, is thought to be one of the Pendle Witches. Elizabeth Southerns, also known as Demdike, died at the castle awaiting trial; nine of the accused, including her daughter and two of her grandchildren, were convicted and taken up to Gallows Hill to be executed. Today, you can follow the trail of the Pendle Witches, all the way from their homes in the shadow of Pendle Hill to the castle where they were convicted and the hill where they were executed.
You might even encounter a ghost not too far from our own Bay View Holiday Park! It is said that a watery Grey Lady is sometimes seen wailing on the shore of Morecambe Bay, lingering near streams and even on the banks of the canal in Bolton-le Sands, holding up the hem of her wedding dress to keep it out of the mud.
She is said to be a maiden named Matilda, a local farmer’s daughter, who was summoned to the manor house of local lord Giles de Bois on the eve of her wedding. There he claimed the archaic right of “first night” – sleeping with common women before they wed. The next day, she put on her wedding dress and walked out into the sea to drown. Her fiancé is said to have hired an extravagant assassin known as Black Betty to wreak his revenge, but although this was gruesomely achieved, Matilda remains unable to rest to this day.
If you fancy a little spooky exploration, these are just a few of the places to look for ghosts; you might also choose to go a little further afield to the famously haunted Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass in the Lake District, or even to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, where a spirit nicknamed Cloggy is rumoured to haunt the Ghost Train. Whatever you choose to do on your holiday, at Holgates we’re proud to offer you the perfect base! For more information, or to make an enquiry with our team, get in touch with us today on 01524 701508.