Towneley Hall, Burnley
Although the Towneley family lived here since the 13th century, the present Grade I listed Towneley Hall dates from the 14th and 16th century. No longer a stately home, Towneley Hall houses Burnley’s Art Gallery & Museum and perhaps a few ghosts.
The following article by Gill Johnson entitled ‘Tormented souls roam historic haunted Townley Hall’ appeared in the Lancashire Telegraph 7 July 2011:
TOWNELEY Hall, opened to the public since 1902, had previously been home to the Towneley family for 500 years.
Like any self-respecting hall in Lancashire, it has its ghosts, spirits of the past that are said to roam the hall and its grounds.
The most famous ghost there is the ‘white lady’ who wanders occasionally along the battlements high above the entrance.
Who she is, no-one knows — perhaps as in most traditions of this sort, she seeks out the high battlements looking out for a long lost lover who never returns.
Another lost soul is that of Sir John Towneley (1473-1541) who illegally enclosed some of the common lands around Whorlaw, near the Waggoner’s Inn in Manchester Road, depriving the local farmers and commoners of grazing land and making it into a hunting park.
The tormented spirit is doomed to roam the rooms of the hall forever, but only every seventh year.
Tradition says that the appearance of the ghost marked the forthcoming death of one of the Towneley family, and many people linked any sudden death to this legend.
‘Trash’ was also something to be feared, for this was a phantom dog the size of a small donkey which roamed the grounds at Towneley at certain times.
He was jet black with blazing red eyes the size of saucers, and it, too, is associated with death.
At the back of Towneley Hall is the old road which stretched between Bacup and Todmorden and is today part of the network of visitor pathways.
Part of it is named Boggart Bridge which spans a small stream.
Here lived a particularly objectionable boggart in times past, who demanded gifts from the travellers before they were allowed to cross.
Then, a compromise was reached, whereby the boggart could keep the soul of the first thing that crossed the bridge the following day and he would never again appear as long as there was greenery around.
Next day, local folk sent over an old hen which the boggart claimed and then, true to his word, disappeared leaving only behind the smell of brimstone and sulphur.
Evergreen shrubs were quickly planted and the disagreeable boggart has not been seen since.