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Ye Olde Man & Scythe

Ye Olde Man & Scythe is one of the best known pubs in Bolton town centre, one of the oldest public houses in the United Kingdom and is reputedly haunted by James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby amongst others. Ye Olde Man & Scythe has stood in Churchgate since the 12th century. The earliest mention of the pub dates to 1251 and a Royal Charter giving permission for a market to be held in by the Earl of Derby who owned the property where the building stands. The pub has undergone some structural changes and according to a date stone was rebuilt in 1636, though some of the cellar dates back to the earlier building.

The sign depicts a man holding a scythe. Around the time of the Royal Charter of 1251, Ye Olde Man & Scythe passed from the Ferrers (Earl of Derby) family to the Pilkingtons through marriage. The crest of the Pilkingtons is that of a man mowing with a scythe which relates to a family legend concerning one of their ancestors who disguised themselves as a mower to avoid capture around the time of the Norman conquest.

The Pilkingtons fought for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485 and Leonard Pilkington was executed for this in Leicester. The whole Pilkington family manor and estate was then passed to by Henry VII to Thomas Lord Stanley, the newly created Earl of Derby after the earldom had been re-introduced. Sir Thomas Pilkington of Pilkington is mentioned in the roll call for the Battle of Bosworth fighting for the Yorkist Richard and he later died at the Battle of Stoke in 1487.

The English Civil War
On 28th May 1644, the Royalists forces led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and supported by those of James Stenley, 7th Earl of Derby stormed Bolton and massacred around one thousand five hundred inhabitants, civilians and troops alike. Much of this slaughter would have taken place in the streets around Ye Olde Man & Scythe.

James Stanley, however was to have an even closer connection with the pub as at 3.00pm on 15 October 1651 he was executed outside it. James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby (Knight of the Garter) (born 31 January 1607 – died 15 October 1651) acquired the Earldom after his father died on 29 September 1642, before this date he had been known as Lord Strange. Even though he had served as a member of Parliament for Liverpool and as Baron Strange in the House of Lords, Stanley was not involved with the disputes with the crown that resulted in the English Civil War, though once the fighting began he sided with King Charles I.

Stanley had been sent to fortify the Isle of Man for Charles I and whilst he was away his wife Charlotte de la Trenmoille and his home, Lathom House, described as the last Royalist stronghold in Lancashire, came under siege by the Parliamentarian forces of Thomas Fairfax. By joining the campaign of Prince Rupert of the Rhine in 1644 he was able to relieve this siege which had lasted from February 1644 through to May 1644. I can only assume that he took this attack personally and it may have account for his part in the Massacre of Bolton. After being the at the defeat of Marston Moor he retreated to the Isle of Man.

Following the war he was arrested for treason and executed in Bolton, for the part he took in the massacre. Before he faced the executioners block in the market place in front of Ye Olde Man & Scythe, he sat inside the pub with the landlord James Cockrel and had a final meal. The chair on which he sat is of a Flemish design dating from 1590 and still be seen today in the Museum Room of the pub. In 1965 the WHO apparently damaged this chair.

The Ghosts
Ye Olde Man & Scythe is said to be haunted by a young girl named Jenny and the ill fated James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, who has reputedly been seen in the Museum Room. I found an article by Jennifer Minard dated 2006 and entitled ‘TV Shuts Door On Haunted Hostelry’ in which she explains that representatives from Living TV examined the pub for a possible appearance on Most Haunted, but it was deemed unsuitable as the haunted rooms did not have doors on them. Jennifer’s article mentions that the pub is said to haunted by 20 ghosts.

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Ian Topham
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Re: Ye Olde Man & Scythe

The following article entitled "VIDEO: Ghostly goings-on at historic Bolton pub" by Tracey Scott appeared in 'This Is Lancashire', 26 December 2007.
Go to Ye Olde Man and Scythe pub in Bolton and you are likely to get a different kind of spirit.
For spooky goings-on have been caught on CCTV at the Churchgate pub, according to a paranormal investigator.

Spiritualist medium David Holt, aged 24, from Westhoughton, spent a Friday night at the pub in the hope of recording some ghostly activity.

Armed with his ghost tracking kit - including Electro-Voice Phenomena (EVPs) and night vision camcorders - Mr Holt and nine fellow spirit hunters spent more than seven hours watching and waiting.

Mr Holt, who claims to have seen his first spirit at the age of four, said: "We held a number of experiments with the spirit world and managed to get some voice phenomena and footage of orbs - circular lights seen in the picture on the right.

"We held a séance, asked the famous question Is anyone here?' and a voice replied, Can I help you?' A woman at the seance asked if anyone was around her and a young boy answered, Ian'. Her cousin Ian died earlier this year, he was just a little boy."

The orbs caught on camera are said to be a representation of spirit manifestation, possibly deceased loved ones or guardian angels. Fans of Living TV's Most Haunted will be familiar with them. Spiritual-sceptics, however, believe they are dust particles bouncing from light.

Mr Holt said: "Orbs are very significant. They represent a lot in paranormal investigations. They can interact on request and random dust particles cannot do that."

According to David, non-believers should beware.

"One day you will definitely find out if the spirit world is there, whether you want to or not," he said.

"To sceptics I'd invite them to look at the evidence themselves. As a spiritualist medium it is my job to enlighten people, not frighten people.

"You can only go so far as to give evidence, and that is what I try to do - give evidence."

Ye Olde Man and Scythe is the oldest pub in Bolton, dating back to 1251. The building has seen many historical events, including the "Massacre of Bolton" in 1644, which saw the death of 500 soldiers. It was also the scene of the beheading of Earl of Derby in 1651.

Mr Holt holds a meeting at Ye Olde Man and Scythe every month.

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Ian Topham
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Re: Ye Olde Man & Scythe

This pub was closed 15 October 2012 and the stafff were told by text that they had lost their jobs. The manner in which this happened made national news.

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Re: Ye Olde Man & Scythe

I have visited this pub on several occasions and can happily agree that it certainly has an old world feel to it.  The floors are slabs of cold ancient rock and all unlevel, the each room has walled filled with artifacts and historic stories lit by lamps in glass boxes.  It has an old cellar system where barrels are hauled from the top to bottom with a strange looking winch.  Its also said that there used to be a tunnel that went from the pub to the church up the road where monks and other saintly types would go to and from transporting wine.



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