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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

House of the Week - Most Haunted!

This is East Riddlesden Hall in West Yorkshire, our last port of call on our recent canal holiday. At the end of the 18th century, the Bingley to Skipton section of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal cut right through the estate, bringing vast changes to what had up until then been largely a rural landscape and way of life. These days the house and grounds are a small oasis in the urban sprawl of Bradford.

For me East Riddlesden Hall has it all. It's small enough to live in without rattling around like a marble in a vast box (see Hardwick Hall), it's ancient (a medieval hall was first built there in the 14th century), it's eccentric, it has atmosphere in spades, it has a romantic ruin attached, it has a falcon mews and several resident ghosts. Who could ask for more? It is in fact so haunted that it has been featured on the TV programme Most Haunted. Only the week before I visited, the Grey Lady had been sighted in the tea rooms. Apparently she is the ghost of a Tudor lady whose husband returned home unexpectedly, found her with her lover, starved her to death in her chamber and walled the lover up. I was told that Most Haunted had discovered the ghost of a dog at the top of the stairs; I hung around there for a while hoping to meet the ghost dog but no luck. That really would have made my day. I love dogs and was really hoping this one would recognise me as a kindred spirit (sorry!)

Confusingly there is also supposed to be the ghost of a white lady as well as a grey lady. The white lady was thrown from her horse into the lake and drowned. Also lurking about the lake is supposed to be the spirit of a coachman. My favourite ghost, however, was most definitely the "assassin-dishwasher" a servant who was a dishwasher in the kitchens by day and went out murdering people by night. He is supposed to pop up if you are feeling depressed.

I liked East Riddlesden Hall so much that I went around it twice, much to the amusement of the staff who very kindly said that I could go round all day if I wanted. Despite the reputation for hauntings it had to my mind an exceptionally warm and welcoming atmosphere. The staff were the friendliest I have ever met (I know, I sound like a National Trust mystery shopper!) It was a hot sunny day, the gardens looked stunning, the tea room people made me a take out picnic and the gift shop was excellent. You can even get married at East Riddlesden Hall - if you don't mind sharing the occasion with a few uninvited guests!

15 comments:

Deanna Jewel said...

Nicola, love your castle posts! I certainly wish I were there to go thru a few!

margaret blake said...

You have had a lovely trip, Nicola, thank you for sharing with us.

Stacey Graham said...

It's lovely! Thank you for the tour, lol! :)

Nicola Cornick said...

Thank you - I am so glad people enjoy my posts. I love taking guided tours around Ashdown so virtual guided tours are the next best thing!

Jan Jones said...

That's lovely, Nicola. I do like the thought of an assassin who pops up when you are feeling depressed.

Nicola Cornick said...

It's lucky he doesn't haunt my house, Jan! Am struggling with revisions at the moment and feeling quite depressed about them. Fortunately when I was at East Riddlesden I was having a lovely time!

NinaP said...

Great post, Nicola! If I ever get to England, I want to duplicate your holiday.

Elisa Beatty said...

How cool! I'd have hung around looking for the ghost dog, too!

Nicola Cornick said...

Nina, I'd be very happy to provide you with my itinerary. Or even to tag along as tour guide! I would LOVE to do that sort of a job!

Elisa, I was very sorry I couldn't find the ghost dog. I kept hoping it wuld rub around my ankles or something (though perhaps that would have been a ghost cat!)

Jane Odiwe said...

Like you, I'm always hoping I might see a ghost, but sadly, never have. I loved the post, gorgeous atmospheric photos - you can imagine the ghosts!

Nicola Cornick said...

I thought that it was interesting that the house felt to me to have such a warm and friendly atmosphere, Jane. Not at all the sort of place I would associate with a ghost although it does look the part. But maybe that's why I couldn't see (or sense) them! I have seen a ghost once and have experienced some unexplained phenomenon but East Riddlesden Hall was such a beautiful place and the day so hot, sunny and bright that it just didn't "feel" ghostly. I'm so pleased you liked the post and the photos. Thank you!

Leah Marie Brown said...

OH MY GOODNESS! How strange! I chose East Riddlesden Hall as the setting for the novel I have been working on for the last two years, Redemption. How cool is it that you featured this very property?

I wrote the curator sometime ago and he was kind enough to send me blueprints and information on the building. What a fascinating place.

Thanks for the post!

Nicola Cornick said...

Leah, that's amazing! What was it that prompted you to choose East Riddlesden Hall in the first place? I thought it was a place not many people had heard of but clearly it has many fans. And I like it that some of the smaller historic houses get a look in sometimes. Chatsworth and Hardwick usually get all the glory!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee said...

This is definitely going on my list of "places to see"! I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one who would love to see a ghost, especially a ghost dog. Some people think I'm weird for that. :)

And I so wish there WAS a job of "National Trust mystery shopper!" I would apply for that in a minute

Nicola Cornick said...

Wouldn't that be a fun job, Amanda! I'm so glad you would also be keen to see a ghost dog. I thought it sounded quite cute, sitting waiting at the top of the stairs for it's ownder to come back...