Smithills Hall, near Bolton in Greater Manchester, is one of the region’s most haunted houses. RICK HALL takes us on a tour of the spooky mansion…
Situated on a slope high above the town of Bolton in Greater Manchester, on the West Pennine Moors, is Smithills Hall. This ancient country manor has so much history that if someone told me it wasn’t haunted, I would be shocked.
Smithills Hall is a Grade I listed manor house, and a Scheduled Monument, making it forever untouchable.
The oldest parts of the Hall is centuries old and was constructed in 1322.
Early historical records show the Hall was in the possession of William Radcliffe. And he acquired it from the Knights Hospitaller, a militant order of warrior monks closely related to the Knights Templars.
The Radcliffe family held tightly on to their ancestral home until the 15th century when their line died out and the Hall passed to the Barton family, Who lived in the house for 200 years.
Smithills Hall passed through the hands of several owners and was even visited in 1855 by American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne who was the US consul in Liverpool at the time.
The house was turned into a museum in the 1960s and is home to a Mary Poppins-inspired tea house today.
The Haunting Of Smithills Hall
The haunting of this old manor house has become something of a legend in Greater Manchester.
So much so, that its multiple ghostly tales attracted the popular show, Most Haunted to its doors.
And they were not disappointed by any means. Smithills Hall is undoubtedly home to a number of ghosts.
The Green Room
During the reign of Mary Tudor, local farmer George Marsh was brought before Robert Barton and made to stand trial for the then unforgivable crime of being protestant.
In the Hall’s Green Room, Marsh was found guilty and burned at the stake. All that because he didn’t share the faith of the queen.
And this tragic event left an indelible stain on Smithills Hall in the form of George Marsh’s restless soul.
Visitors to Smithills Hall have reported seeing the scowling form of a man standing at the top of the stairs near the Green Room. The very room that destroyed the farmer’s life.
Many people have been deceived into believing he was an employee dressed in period clothing playing a part.
When they go to compliment management on the realism, they learn that no actors work at the Hall. And the man they saw was a ghost
The Praying Man
Chapels were a common feature in many old manor homes and castles and were used as a place for prayer and reflection.
No one has used the chapel at Smithills Hall for many years, and yet one person still does. A person from the other side of life.
The ghostly form of a man in intense prayer is regularly seen in the pews, his head lowered and he whispers unintelligible words.
Even before the Hall was open to the public the man was seen in the chapel.
When employees go to question the praying Man why he is there, they suddenly find themselves alone in the place of worship.
The Man In Black
No, the legendary musician Johnny Cash doesn’t put in an appearance at Smithills Hall but another phantom man in black does.
While the mysterious man in his jet black clothes and white, frizzy hair is seen throughout the Hall, he seems to prefer the Hall’s gift shop.
A number of employees have been shocked to see the man’s reflection in a mirror. When they turn to question him, he’s nowhere to be found.
The mysterious dark clothed figure is believed to be Colonel Ainsworth who resided at Smithills Hall in 1870.
The ghost is believed to be the colonel because he always wore black and had long, unkempt white hair.
If it is Colonel Ainsworth, he is of an intelligent nature as he has been known to interact with visitors and staff alike over the years.
And lastly, visitors to the garden have heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps following closely as they walk the path.
When they turn to see who is following so close, they of course find they are indeed alone.
Smithills Hall, Bolton, Greater Manchester is a must visit destination for history and ghost enthusiasts alike.
If you’ve been to Smithills Hall, and experienced any paranormal activity, let us know in the comment section!