Aldburgh Hall, Masham
Aldburgh Hall appears here, not because it is haunted, but because several centuries ago, there were apparently local rumours that it was. The Aldburgh estate was historically the property of Fountains Abbey. Following its closure in 1539, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Aldburgh was granted to Sir Richard Gresham. In 1597 it was purchased by Roger Beckwith (Born 1560 – Died 1635) and it remained in the Beckwith family until it was sold in 1743. The current house dates from after this sale, however it would have been the original Beckwith Aldburgh Hall that the locals suspected was haunted.
In his ‘The History and Antiquities of Masham and Mashamshire (1865), John Fisher refers to an old local belief from the 1700’s that the hall was haunted by the ghost of Roger Beckwith. A belief he himself did not share and which had died away by the time of writing.
‘Neither does it say much for the intelligence of the parish at this period. We know, however, from other sources, that, not only at this time, but long afterwards, great ignorance, not unmixed with an incredible amount of superstition, very much prevailed throughout the parish, and that ghosts and hob-goblins were as plentiful in it as blackberries, so that there was scarcely a nook or corner in the parish which was not “haunted” by its own special ghost or boggle. The “Marfield Boggle,” “Jinny Greensleeves,” of High Burton, “Sir Roger Beckwith’s” ghost, of Aldborough Hall, and “The Woman without a head,” at the Dykes-hill, have indeed only taken their departure from the parish within the period of my own recollection.’
The Roger Beckwith in question could be the first Roger Beckwith (1560-1635), who acquired the estate in 1597, or more likely Sir Roger Beckwith, 2nd Baronet (1682–1743) who shot himself. His father, Sir Roger Beckwith, 1st Baronet (died 1700) also of Aldburgh, also shot himself, but at his father in-laws house in Ripon. Maybe it was the nature of their demise that led to unfounded stories developing about a ghost.