This month writer Zowie Swan has bravely guided us through 31 Days of Halloween Tales inspired by local folklore. Today, on Halloween itself – or Teanlay Night as it was known on the Fylde Coast in ancient times – she shares the story of the most haunted hall in Britain, and explains why it has become her muse.
“On the outskirts of the village, down a quiet lane, there sits a house…
“Just another old house in another old village. Except Goosnargh is not just any old village, and Chingle Hall is not just any old house.
“Shielded from the roadside by reaching oaks and curtains of willow, Chingle has sat here in sullen isolation for an age.
“The house is waiting.
“Waiting for you.”
Happy Hallowe’en, or rather, Happy Teanlay Night, which is our special ancient name for Hallowe’en on the Fylde Coast. What better way to end this spooky series than with the grande dame herself – Lancashire’s and, reputedly, Britain’s most haunted house – Chingle Hall.
This legendary place is known to many locally, but what do we really know about it? How did it foster such a chilling reputation? Thankfully, after writing the only novel set within its walls, my years of research mean that I just might have some intriguing tales to share with you!
Chingle Hall, or to give it its official title, Chingle Old Hall with Bridge Over Moat, is a rare and outstanding survivor of Lancashire’s Norman past. The land that the hall sits on was once a Viking settlement – in Old Norse Goosnargh meant Gosan’s Hill Pasture.
It was awarded to Ughtred de Singleton following the Norman Conquest in 1066. For many years, the de Singleton family merely retained the lands as undeveloped pasture, but in 1260, Adam de Singleton built a small manor house. He used timbers from the wreck of a Viking longboat that was foundered in the River Ribble.
Yes, Chingle Hall, home of countless ghosts, is built in the shape of a cross.
The hall was surrounded by a deep moat, fed by the nearby Blundell Beck, over which a wooden drawbridge led to a great studded oak door with intricate swan-neck ironwork. Miraculously, this original door still remains in place, although the moat has dried up and the drawbridge has been replaced by a brick footbridge.
The hall was added to over time until it took the cruciform shape that it has today. Yes, Chingle Hall, home of countless ghosts, is built in the shape of a cross.
Quite fitting then that Chingle Hall became a notorious hub of papist secrets, with a small Catholic chapel built inside, along with two canny priest holes designed to hide away the followers of the old Roman church during Protestant Elizabethan England. This house was a place of safety and refuge for the persecuted, as evidenced by the Sanctuary knocker which can still be found on the front door. Usually found on cathedrals, Sanctuary knockers awarded those in pursuit respite for a month and seven days.
The most famous ghost is that of Eleanor de Singleton, cruelly imprisoned inside her own home by her greedy uncles.
It is these shadows of Chingle Hall’s religious past that allegedly haunt it today. Spectral monks, both brown and black robed, have been witnessed many times by visitors and former residents. The ghost of the martyred saint Blessed John Wall is also supposed to haunt the hall, with rumours that his decapitated head is buried in the grounds.
The most famous ghost is that of Eleanor de Singleton, cruelly imprisoned inside her own home by her greedy uncles. Eleanor was the last of the Singleton line, and her wicked uncles by marriage were rather interested in having the house and lands for themselves.
As a child she was locked away until her sad death in 1585 around the age of 16. It is said she suffered terribly at the hands of her captors, who claimed she was mad but, unsurprisingly, no records survive to tell us what really happened to her. The room in which she was kept is known to smell of lavender, her favourite scent, and sometimes it smells of the Afghan hound that she kept for company.
A local woman named Mrs Margaret Howarth rented the old hall with her husband in the 1940s and managed to secure funds to buy it by the 1960s. We have Mrs Haworth to thank for much of what we know about its unique history and hauntings. It is due to her loving restoration and the unearthing of its past that the building was saved from dereliction and turned into an attraction. Chingle Hall then enjoyed 30 years of eager visitors between 1970s-1990s.
Almost every type of paranormal phenomenon has been recorded at Chingle Hall, from apparitions to poltergeist activity.
Hauntings included spontaneous combustion of wooden beams, scratching, dragging, and blood-curdling screams. Almost every type of paranormal phenomenon has been recorded at Chingle Hall, from apparitions to poltergeist activity to chilling electronic voice phenomena. Even the spirit of the recently departed Mrs Haworth was witnessed, but I will save that story for another day…
My own fascination with Chingle Hall began as a child when I visited the grounds with my parents and my camera ceased taking pictures mid-frame. In the minutes leading up to me standing in front of the hall and the minutes immediately after, the camera worked perfectly. As soon as I began snapping the hall, it jammed and the photos came out black and distorted.
The most common question I get asked, as an unofficial historian of Chingle Hall, is can we visit? The answer, sadly, is no, the house is not open to the public and is a private residence situated on a private road. The current owner asks you to respect their privacy.
Who knows? Perhaps one day in the distant future, this historic gem will once again open her doors to the people of Lancashire. Until then, enjoy reading about Chingle Hall and keep her stories alive.
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
Day 20 – The Boggart of Clegg Hall
Day 21 – The Haunted Hall on the Hill
Day 22 – The Wraiths of Wycoller
Day 23 – The Shipwrecks and Hauntings of Bispham Village
Day 24 – All Hallows Church and the Zodiac Portal
Day 25 – The Drowned Villages of the Fylde Coast
Day 26 – The Spirits of Skippool Creek
Day 27 – Whittingham Asylum for Pauper Lunatics
Day 28 – The White Lady of Old Whitegate Lane
Day 29 – The Noisy Ghost of Major Longworth
Day 30 – Mischief Night
Take a look at Zowie Swan’s debut novel, Chingle Hall here.
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