From: John@jaka.demon.co.uk (John Burnham)
Subject: Re: Cumbrian Ghosts
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 22:07:55 +0000
Well, actually, weekends are usually the time I'm least likely to post as I'm often in Oxford visiting my girlfriend. Weekday nights are far more likely. Like tonight...
OK, I've got a few more stories which I'll share. Some a lot more close to home than the ones I have already posted.
First, someone asked me if there are any regularly appearing ghosts in Cumbria. The story that springs to mind is that of Armboth House. Armboth House stands on Armboth Fell, above the shores of Thirlmere. The story goes that on Hallowe'en the daughter of the house was to be married. The wedding feast was being prepared when a man rushed in to tell the family that the bride had been pushed into the lake and had drowned. Years later, when the house was abandoned, the story started that every Hallowe'en lights could be seen in the house, bells began ringing and a ghostly figure of a large dog could be seen swimming in the lake. The house would ring with the sound of the wedding preparations and a table would be set by unseen hands. Finally the shade of the bride would rise up and went to keep her appointment with the wedding celebrations. The story then changed to say that all the spirits of the area would attend the celebrations. In the book, " The English Lakes ", W.T. Palmer wrote - " .. that on a certain night all the fugitive spirits whose bodies were destroyed in unavenged crimes assembled at Armboth House - bodies without heads, the Skulls Of Culgarth with no bodies, a phantom arm and many weird shapes; the windows were alight with corpse candles, chains clank in corridors and there are eternal shriekings. "
All in all, a pretty haunted place. So, for anyone wanting to go ghost spotting in Cumbria, I suggest a vigil on Armboth Fell on Hallowe'en.
This story leads to the question - what are the Skulls Of Culgrath ? Ok, next story.
The story of the Skulls Of Culgarth is one of the more famous ghost stories of the Windermere district of Cumbria. Myles Philipson, a Justice of the Peace, wanted to add some more land to his already large estate. Unfortunately, the land he wanted belonged to an elderly couple, Kraster and Dorothy Cook, who refused to sell. Philipson hatched a plan and invited the couple to his home for a Christmas Feast. Afterwards he accused them of stealing a silver cup he claimed had gone missing. The evidence was planted so it appeared that they had indeed stolen the cup. The case was somewhat of a foregone conclusion, it was Myles Philipson that was presiding over it... The couple was sentenced to death. They were hanged at Appleby, but before she died Dorothy pronounced seven curses on Culgarth Hall, Myles Philipson's home, saying they would haunt it day and night until Philipson's line still lived there or, as she put it -
" Hark's to here, Myles Philipson, that teenie lump o' land is t'dearest grund a Philipson has ever bowte. For ye shall prosper niver maur, yersl, nor yan of o't breed. And while Culgarth's strong woes shall stand, we'll haunt it day and neet. "
Soon afterwards, two skulls appeared in Culgarth Hall. And that was not all, every night screams were heard. There were many attempts to get rid of the skulls, including burying them in quicklime, but the skulls always returned to the hall before night. Philipson's fortunes failed, he became a poor and broken man. After his death, the hall left his family and the skulls became quiet. They were eventually bricked up in the hall where they are to this day as far as I know.
I also said in one of my postings that I would ask my dad to fill me in on his experiences at a hall of residence in Newcastle. He said he couldn't tell me much as he luckily avoided most of the nastiness going on. Apparently, the strangeness started when a girl living there just suddenly flew off her bed ( the top bunk of a bunk bed ). This was witnessed by a couple of people. After that various things started moving/flying about - possibly poltergeist activity. People started to get into a state approaching mass hysteria - something was making people jumpy - they were getting strange feelings that something was wrong. Apparently to appreciate the feeling you need to see the place, to quote my dad - " it has eight foot wide oak staircases and towers, spires, the lot ". My mum reckons if she had to imagine somewhere that was haunted, she could do much worse than think of Ridley Hall. The strangest part was that it was discovered that one of the students had, during a field trip, broken into a church and stolen a pair of candlesticks. Soon after this was resolved abd the candlesticks returned, everything returned to normal.
I don't know what happened here and my dad passes it off as hearsay and feelings. Make of it what you will.
The nearest thing I get to a story of my own is this. I lived most of my life at my grandparents' farm in Cumbria. It was an old farmhouse and quite nice, but there certain bits of it - the older parts - I really felt..... I don't know.... nervous, scared, apprehensive, that something was watching me.... I have never seen anything there, but when we did some work on that part of the house we ripped the ceiling out of the room I really didn't like ( still don't.... I still get scared going into it at night - luckily it is used as a larder type room, so I don't have to very often... ) and found a small shoe, like a child's and a thigh bone. Again, make of this what you will.
Oh well, my coffee is finished, the record needs turning over, so I'll call this posting to a close. I still have many more stories, let me know what you think of these and if there are any requests for specific types of story ( eg a friend told me a really gruesome tale of ghostly revenge - not sure if it is fact or fiction ( he reckoned it was factual ) but it was a real spinechiller... ) let me have them, I'll do my best to dredge through what passes for my memory and try and come up with a suitable story.
John Burnham email@example.com