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!