The ruined hall was once a magnificent fortified home belonging to the powerful Curwen family. It is said to be haunted by ghostly children and the Jacobite ‘Galloping Harry Curwen’ (Henry Curwen circa 1715).
The manifestations took the form of banging noises similar to a bang on each step of the staircase. The noise was said to echo the noise of Harry’s head as it was banged against each step, as a female French visitor – seeing Harry was ill – tried to hasten his death along by dragging him downstairs before making off with his jewels. The rather impolite visitor managed to escape the authorities only to be shipwrecked and lost at sea.
One strange account of the Hall’s ghost comes from the 1950s, when a door in the library opened slowly by itself and something entered the room. This event, which was witnessed Reverend P L Curwen, agitated dogs which were present, who appeared to be aware of somebody entering. Eventually the door opened wider and the presence seemed to leave, after which the dogs calmed down.
Galloping Harry, a staunch Catholic, was said to have started to haunt the Hall after his portrait was turned to face the wall. This seems a strange and petty reason to return from the grave compared with other folktales.
The Curwens also had a Luck; which is an object that ensures good luck for the family as long as it is not broken (such as the Luck of Muncaster and the Luck of Eden Hall). The Luck was given to them by Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed at the Hall after fleeing from Scotland in 1568, before her incarceration at the hands of Elizabeth. The Luck was agate cup, which was passed down throughout the Curwen line.
Footnote: In April 1994 whilst investigating a Cumbrian stately home (which must remain anonymous due to an on going investigation) another researcher and myself encountered acoustic phenomena which has not yet been rationally explained. The noise mirrored that of the case above sounding like something heavy being dragged down steps. The noise was very loud and passed the door we were behind. We followed the noise but could not trace a cause. I mention this because the location under investigation had a similar story attached of a figure being dragged down stairs and it is in Cumbria. It wouldn’t surprise me if the story has spread and been attributed to Workington Hall and Galloping Harry.