How we use Cookies

Spooky tales of a haunted Hyndburn

AS FOLK don their monster masks and skeleton suits to celebrate Halloween, Observer reporter John Fahey looks into the history of the ghosts and ghouls lurking in Hyndburn's shadows.

SPOOKY ... Stuart Macfarlane with his daughter Michelle at the Duckworth Hall Inn

EXECUTED for religious beliefs. Tied up and burned to death for love. Drowned in the River Hyndburn. But horrible deaths have not stopped them. They are Hyndburn's ghosts ... and they are countless.

So while your little treasures prepare for a night of trick-or-treating, you should remember there are some places nobody, let alone, children should go.

Centuries ago, Black Abbey in Accrington was home to a devout order of monks. A young member of the order fell in love with Ursula, the beautiful daughter of a nobleman. Biding their time until they could marry, they met secretly in a top room in an abbey tower. But one night, the young monk was captured by the girl's father and his henchmen, chained to a wall and set on fire. His beloved had been hiding, but hearing his deathly screams she ran to help him.

There have been several reports of Ursula appearing in a halo of light. Golden tresses fall down her back, she is the epitome of radiant youth. But when she sees you, her flesh becomes withered and scabby, as though scorched by flames. Then she emits a horrible shriek and vanishes.

Love really is a killer. Pretty French governess Lucette lived at Dunkenhalgh Hall - now the hotel - with the Petre family (lords of the manor until 1947). She became pregnant but was deserted by her lover. And realising the Petre family would sack her for her illegitimate child, she threw herself in the River Hyndburn. Wearing the white translucent gown in which she was pulled from the water, she is seen on cold, dark winter nights walking sad-eyed through the misty Dunkenhalgh grounds.

Meanwhile, a house in Queensway, Church, has terrified residents for years. Just 10 years ago a terrified mother of four abandoned the semi-detached home, begging the council to be re-housed. An exorcist was called after a guitar played itself, family members were grabbed by invisible cold hands and the bath filled itself rapidly. But the council refused to release the family from their horror.

At the time, a former resident of the house told the Observer: "As I was about to leave for the last time I couldn't budge the front door. It wouldn't open so I had to go out through the back." Neighbours refused to speak about the house, which a series of families had fled.

In 1954, after quietly taking charge of Oswaldtwistle's Duckworth Hall Inn, Haslingden Road, Sam Arrowsmith and his wife Margaret didn't expect to attract anything more threatening than the occasional drunk. But doors flying open in the small hours, chains clanking and the sound of footsteps terrified them.

The story goes the ghost was a persecuted Roman Catholic priest who was imprisoned in the pub before being executed at Whalley Abbey. Regulars maintain a cloaked figure is often seen gliding away from the pub towards the site of his murder. Current landlord Stuart Macfarlane said: "My daughter Michelle knows how spooky the place is. We've got a special set of brass cups and several times she's seen them fall inexplicably from the tacks in the wall."

Finally, Sue Brown, manager at Hyndbrook House sheltered accommodation in Dale Street, Accrington, claims residents often see a spectre of a man dressed in a brown suit. She said: "He isn't malevolent, he seems friendly. It is quite spooky, but it sounds like you catch him in the corner of your eye and then he's gone. The residents call him Albert."

 

Journalists

Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Crime
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Reporter
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist