In recent times Clegg Hall was saved by the community but during the Commonwealth era locals may have been too frightened to approach for fear of crossing the path of the many ghosts who reside there. We find out more on day 20 of 31 Hallowe’en Tales.

Today’s tale concerns Clegg Hall in Littleborough near Rochdale and was suggested by one of my oldest and dearest friends, whose mother recalls the sinister atmosphere of the place from her youth.

The Clegg Hall we see today was built in 1610, but there have been several dwellings on this site during its thousand year history.

In a survey of Rochdale in 1626, the current building was listed as “a faire capital messuage built with free stone with all new fair houses of office there-unto belonging with gardens, fishponds and divers closes of land”. Also included were “barns, stables, courts, orchards, gardens, folds, and pigeon houses”.

The current structure was built for the wonderfully named Theophilus Ashton (1584-1621), by the 1840s, it was being used as a rough and ready public house. However, the building was so decrepit and dangerous that it lost its licence. By the end of the century, it was little more than an eerie and romantic ruin, where chickens were kept and children dared each other to dash up the stairs and enter the Boggart Room.

The boggart is the most famous entity to haunt the hall and its origins are believed to trace back to the 13th century. There have been many accounts of this tale, but the longest version appears in a book called In Olden Days written by local vicar, Reverend Oakley, in the early years of the 20th century.

This ghostly child has been heard through the ages warning those that live at Clegg Hall of any incoming danger.

The story goes that while the master of the house was away fighting in France, his two sons were slain by their uncle. Legend says that they were thrown over the battlements into the moat. When their father returned home he was naturally devastated to find his children dead. That night, whilst the master slept, his wicked brother used secret tunnels (potentially linked to Stubley Old Hall), in a plot to murder him. However, the master heard one of his children’s voices warning him, “Father beware!”. This woke the master from his sleep and his brother spooked, tripped and fell to his death. This ghostly child has been heard through the ages warning those that live at Clegg Hall of any incoming danger.

At least two books refer to the ghost and later uses of the current building. One is Harland and Wilkinson’s Lancashire Legends, originally published in 1873. This says: “After many changes of occupants it is now in part used as a country alehouse; other portions of it are inhabited by the labouring classes, who find employment in that populous manufacturing district. It is the property of the Fentons, by purchase from the late John Entwisle Esq of Foxholes”.

The other, Lancashire Legends by Katherine Eyre (1972), says that from 1818 to 1869 it was a public house called the Horse and Hounds, but generally known as the Black Sloven, the name of a favourite hunting mare of legendary speed which belonged to the former owner, Mr Charles Turner. He died in 1733. It says that “The Boggart Chamber” became a place to be avoided, although it is not clear if this was in the pre-1620s house or not. It is alleged that a young girl was playing hide and seek, and she was found dead behind a wall and a curtain. It also says that “during the Commonwealth era, there were hints of counterfeiting activities in the vaults and cellars of Clegg Hall – it was common for smugglers and counterfeiters of the period to use tales of ghosts to scare off locals”.

Clegg Hall was saved from demolition by the local community and was recently painstakingly restored to its former glory. For a period, it was used as a community centre, and if you search, there are videos of the interior. However, it has been sold and is now under private ownership, therefore now closed to the public. Let’s hope the new owners aren’t too disturbed by the boggarts and ghouls that go bump in the night within its halls.

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
Day 7 – A Goblin Funeral at Extwistle Hall
Day 8 – The Ghost of Lady Macbeth
Day 9 – The Mermaid & The Sea Serpent of Marton Mere
Day 10 – The Banshee of Poulton
Day 11 – The Possession of the Lancashire Seven
Day 12 – Lady Fleetwood of old Ross Hall
Day 13 – Tales of Boggart House Farm
Day 14 – Miss Bamber of Marton and her Charms
Day 15 – A Severed Head at Mowbreck Hall
Day 16 – Burnley’s Satanic Pigs and the Clogging of Owd Nick
Day 17 – Three Pilling Boggarts
Day 18 – Hall i’ th’Wood
Day 19 – The Skull House, Appley Bridge
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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