The Busby Stoop from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, is a haunted object with a violent backstory, writes LES HEWITT.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
At around the turn of the 18th century, Thomas Busby was a thoroughly despicable man. In and around the North Yorkshire village that he called home, he was quite a notorious individual. Anyone who dared to stand up to him would find a ruthless and often brutal nemesis.
Busby was a petty thief and perpetual barfly. He did enjoy a drink. In his favourite pub, he had a favourite chair. It was a basic standard bar chair that nobody dared to use. There was one man, according to legend, that did precisely that.
Daniel Awety was a local forger who had more than a natural talent for his nefarious activities. He was also Busby’s father-in-law. When he purchased a local farm, Danotty Hall, it gave him the perfect platform to increase his counterfeiting. The farm was remote but close enough for him to capitalise.
Don’t go sitting in my chair!
Busby was aghast when he discovered that someone had taken his usual seat. Even more so when he realised who that someone was. A row broke out, which didn’t take long to escalate into a full on fight between the men. Leaving the tavern didn’t end matters. What had started there, spilled over to the farmstead. It was there that Busby murdered Awety.
This was an investigation that was about as open and shut as could be. The trial followed in a similar vein and Busby was quickly convicted. A guilty verdict of a murder trial in that era often meant the sentence was death. Busby’s fate was no different. However, he was granted the honour of a final request.
Busby insisted he wanted one final drink.
Moments before he concluded his drink, he categorically stated that death would befall anyone that had the audacity to use the chair he considered he owned. Thomas Busby was hanged shortly afterwards.
The Busby Stoop takes first step into infamy
Several decades passed. Perhaps the chilling words of the criminal had been forgotten. Or perhaps had been ignored with little to no consequence. That was about to change. The Busby Stoop took its first step into infamy when an unnamed chimney sweep used it as a stepping stone. When working on the roof, he fell off and died on the spot.
The curse of the chair had become a hot topic almost overnight. This was said to have lasted deep into the next couple of centuries or so. Drinkers and revellers would dare one another to use the chair. Most declined. A few hardy daredevils took up this challenge and regretted doing so,
During the Second World War, more than one RAF pilot and crew took up the challenge of the stoop. None returned home from duty. Fervour about the stoop really took off during 1967. Another pair of RAF pilots heard about the curse and flagrantly abused the legend. On the drive home, the car they were in collided with a tree.
Now the mystique of the chair took on a life of its own. The landlord of the pub at the time took measures to prevent bold use of the chair. It was removed from the main bar and taken down into the basement. Still, the chair managed to find a way to claim its latest victim.
A few years later, when maybe most of the staff had overlooked the infamous chair, a bricklayer was contracted to do some work. While working, he noticed the chair in one corner, apparently forgotten. Chances are he had never heard about the chair, and wasn’t told either. On a break he calmly used it without a second thought. Sometime after his lunch break, he contrived to fall to his death.
Even though, following this catalogue of woe, more was to follow:
- A roofer was working when the roof suddenly gave way.
- A domestic collapsed into the chair after losing her balance and suffered a fatal aneurysm.
- A delivery driver crashed his van within an hour of his encounter.
Enough was enough. The chair’s grisly history had managed to take on near legendary proportions. The landlord was not about to let anyone take up the ‘sit in the chair and see if you survive’ challenge any longer. He got in touch with the local museum and, under the tightest and most stringent of security, the chair was removed altogether.
To this day it can still be seen hanging from the ceiling where only the really obtuse can get at it. It has also become something of a curiosity for those visiting the Thirsk Museum, 14-16 Kirkgate, Thirsk YO7 1PQ, and can be considered a star attraction.
Are you still sitting comfortably?
The Busby Stoop Inn is now a restaurant called The Jaipur Spice. You can visit it: Busby Stoop Road, Thirsk YO7 4EG.
Have you ever encountered the Busby Stoop? Tell us about it in the comments section below!