A historical gem is crumbling and sinking into a boggy Lancashire hillside, abandoned by its owners who were too frightened to return. On day seven of our Hallowe’en Tales, drawing on local folklore, we find out more about the rotting remains of Extwistle Hall.

Extwistle Hall in Briercliffe, is one of the oldest buildings in the district of Burnley. It lies in withering ruins, empty since 1975, it sits alone on a bleak hillside, with only its memories and spirits for company.

This land is old. The hills and valleys are littered with cairns, standing stones and remains of old circles. This is the land where witches walked abroad and devilish deeds were done by man.

The first mention of Extwistle is in the late 12th Century, in 1193, when it was spelled “Extwysle”. The hall itself was built in 1585 by local gentry, the Parkers. The Parker family name came from their ancestral role as the hereditary ‘park-keepers’ of the Medieval Ightenhill manorial estate. They managed the deer and horse park that occupied the area. Before Extwistle Hall was built, the land had belonged to the church, with the district of Monk’s Hall giving us a clue to the monastic history of the region that thrived until the dissolution of the monasteries during Tudor reign.

Extwistle Hall was a modest, but respectable abode that became the seat of the Townley-Parkers, who had lands in Preston and Chorley, as well as Extwistle. They lived there throughout the 16th and 17th century until a terrible incident occurred at the hall in the early 18th century. The family left the hall immediately never to return.

They still owned the hall and the land, but never stepped foot in the place again. The Townley-Parker ancestral family line died out and it wasn’t until the 1920’s that the hall and its estate was eventually sold by a distant heir. Despite being Grade II listed, the hall is still being left rot and decay and much of the beautiful architecture is already lost to the brutal elements.

When they drew closer, he saw it was his own name inscribed upon the casket.

But what happened at Extwistle Hall to scare its aristocrats into abandoning it completely?

Well, we know on 17th March 1718 a terrible accident occurred which killed the head of the family, Captain Robert Parker, and injured his two daughters. It was reported that they were much ‘damnified’ by gunpowder. The old captain had been shooting that morning and had come home drenched by the early spring rains. He hung his coat up by the fire to dry and the forgotten flask of gunpowder in his pocket was heated and exploded. A freak accident no doubt, but the Parkers were a family who believed in omens.

In 1715 Captain Robert Parker was out late one evening, walking home across the moors. He had been to a clandestine meeting of Jacobite rebels who were doing their utmost to convince him to join their cause. On the way back to Extwistle Hall, he came across a goblin funeral procession coming down the lane in the distance. The Unseelie folk were unusually mournful, singing songs of sorrow and marching with melancholy intent. Frightened, the captain hid in the bushes and waited for them to pass, but when they drew closer, he saw it was his own name inscribed upon the casket. In some stories it is said that he saw the face of his own pale corpse lying dead in a glass coffin.

Shaking, the captain ran all the way home and vowed not to support the uprising, taking this to be a premonition of what would come to pass if he did. However, it was only three years later that he was bizarrely dashed to smithereens by the contents of his own pocket. Had he seen another omen or had he fallen in with the wrong crowd once more? Either way, his family were scared away for good and never returned.

Extwistle Hall was recently sold, going up for sale in 2015, however the new owners have yet to do anything but allow this historical gem to crumble into dust and sink further into the muddy hillside.

If you visit, be respectful and please take care, for the way underfoot is hazardous. Between the fallen masonry and the forest of nettles, you may just see a goblin.

Read our previous Hallowe’en Tales

Day 1 – The Curse of Carleton Crematorium.
Day 2 – The Witch Ducking Stools of Poulton-Le-Fylde.
Day 3 – The Ghost-Seer of Weeton.
Day 4 – Smuggling, Drowned Nuns and Fallen Acrobats at Raikes Hall

Day 5 – The Hauntings at the Old Coach House
Day 6 – Old Scrat

Take a look at Zowie Swan’s debut novel, Chingle Hall here.

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  • Zowie Swan is a local writer of fiction and folklaw. Her debut novel, Chingle Hall, is out now with Safety Pin Publishing. She's also bassist for Blackpool band Dischord.

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