Lawford Hall, Little Lawford
Lawford Hall near Long Lawford no longer exists and on the site of this building can now be found Hall Farm. Lawford Hall had a reputation of being haunted and the following account of this ghost appeared in ‘The Folklore Of Warwickshire’ (1976) by Roy Palmer. ‘The Boughton family lived at Lawford Hall, which stood not far from the Avon at Little Lawford, near Rugby. In Elizabethan times a member of the family lost an arm, and became known as One-handed Boughton. After his death his bed-chamber was haunted and his ghost was seen riding the countryside at night in a coach and six. A number of people tried to sleep in the bed chamber, but were driven out, terrified. In the time of Sir Edward Boughton*, who held the title from 1722 until 1772, it was decided to lay the ghost. A team of twelve clergymen assembled, led by Parson Hall of Great Harborough. They proceeded, each with his bell, book, and candle, to the bedroom, to conjure the spirit into a bottle. Eleven candles went out, but the twelfth continued to burn, and Parson Hall duly stopped up the ghost in the bottle, which was thrown into a nearby marl-pit.’
Palmer continued saying ‘However, the unsavoury reputation of the hall continued. The red hand, which came into the coat of arms when the family was ennobled, was thought to be a bad sign, and things were not improved by the murder of the head of the family, Sir Theodosius, by his brother-in-law, Captain Donelan, in 1780**. Donelan was executed on a gallows near Wallace Street in Warwick, the following year.’
A half cousin, Sir Edward Boughton, 8th Baronet (Born 1742 – Died 1794) inherited the title following the death of Sir Theodosius and in 1793 sold Lawford Hall which was subsequently demolished. I have come across refences to a fire in 1790 and Roy Palmer seems to imply it was demolished around 1785, so I am not certain of the exact date relating to the final fate of the building.
Roy Palmer went on to say ‘the hall was pulled down, though there was considerable reluctance on the part of the workmen, because of their fear of the supernatural. Meanwhile, One-handed Boughton continued to ride, since part of the bargain when his spirit was conjured, was that he should be allowed two hours freedom every night. Early in the nineteenth century*** a bottle recovered from a pond near the site of the hall was thought to be the receptacle used by Parson Hall. Even this did not stop the ghost from pursuing its nocturnal rambles and calling upon late-night travellers to open gates until the late nineteenth century’
Note: Following its finding, the bottle is thought to have been put on display in Rugby before being returned to the Boughton family in Brownsover Hall, where One-handed Boughton reputedly still haunts.
*Sir Edward Boughton, 6th Baronet (Born 1719 – Died 1772) (The Boughton Baronetcy of Lawford was created on 4 August 1641 for William Boughton of Lawford Hall for his support of the Royalist cause prior to the outbreak of the English Civil War).
**Sir Theodosius Edward Allesley Boughton, 7th Baronet (Born 1760 – Died 29 August 1780) was poisoned with ‘laurel water’ by his brother-in-law, Captain John ‘Diamond’ Donellan (Died 2 April 1781 ), husband of Theodosia Anna Maria Boughton (Died 14 January 1830 ).
*** Around 1815.