Whitfield Hall, Oldham
James Butterworth gave the following account in 1826 of a local story concerning a spectral tail. It was published in his History and Description of the Parochial Chapelry of Oldham in the County of Lancaster.
‘Whitfield-hall, anciently the property of the Whitfields, and the then Haworths, had the possession thereof, and after them the family of the Buckleys. Captain Buckley, however, sold it in 1700, to the Levers of Alkrington for £2,200, after which it was sold by Sir Asheton Lever, Knt. to the Mills of Whitfield, then tenants under him, for £2,600, in the year 1786, Mr. Mills having a lease thereof for three lives, or certainly it would not have been purchased at that low price. It is a substantial stone edifice; and near thereto, on the very eminence of the hill is situate Whitfield-Fold.
There are many curious traditionary stories related about the family who occupied Whitfield, for like all the ancient halls of our ancestors, they had always some terrific apparition. that disturbed them, and haunted their residence, whether the proprietors thereof employed some servant to deter the intrusion of their ignorant vassals, or prevent nocturnal depredadators from committing ravages on their property, is not clear; but certain it is, that every mansion was furnished with its spectre, some in one wonderful shape, and some in another. It is also, most certain too, that all these terrifying gentry have deserted this country, and I am apt to suppose their place is occupied by some beings equally terrific, but less harmless, than them.—The hero of terror here, was one with a monstrous length of tail.—I have listened when a boy to an old man, with blanched honors on his brow, who often related to a party of gaping youngsters, like myself, the terrifying adventures of this long tail.—How that it appeared in a flame, enveloping all that gazed upon it. This old hoary headed chronologer, had often seen it, being unfortunately born in the neighbourhood of the spectre.-And he related, that it always possessed such sagacity, that it constantly pursued any nightly marauder, that had been picking up a few turnips, or potatoes, from any part of the Whitefield estate, or if some amorous youth offered to pay small-coal homage, at the window of any enamorato who resided at the mansion, it was sure to pursue, them.—The lecherous grey-headed narrator, said that he had often felt its terrors, and been pursued with its baleful fires, when paying his nocturnal visits to the female domestics of the hall, its constant practise was to pursue any one who was guilty of such misdemeanor even to the very verge of the estate to a rivulet in a valley.’
‘And there under a huge and pond’rous stone,
Hiding its tail, all speckled red and green,
It vented forth a hideous, dreadful groan,
Nor could it further, ever yet be seen.