17 March 2011

Yorkshire is HAUNTED - it's official!

Earlier this month one of our leading UK daily newspapers carried a story "Yorkshire Tops Spook League". And this is news?

My novel Torc of Moonlight draws on tales of apparitions seen at ancient springs in the area, and I make no bones about using the landscape as a character set, describing rural and urban places exactly as they appear because, well… they can’t be bettered.  

Just up the road from where I live, in a village called Ulrome, there’s a small road called Bugg Lane. At the bottom of it sits a large, natural spring-fed pond. A local name for a ghost? A boggle or a bugg.

At Harpham there’s the legend of the Little Drummer Boy, cheated out of the manor he’d won in a race by one of William the Conqueror’s nobles the best way possible. He killed the lad and stuffed him down one of the local ‘wells’ – though it would have been a spring as it still is now. When a descendant of the murderous noble is about to meet his maker, the sound of drumming is said to be heard issuing from the waters.

Just up the road from there is Burton Agnes Hall standing in a village of the same name. There’s a very large pond there, almost a lake, supporting a lot of mixed waterfowl. All very picturesque. However, the hall itself – a beautiful Elizabethan country house – is haunted. In 1620, while it was being built, Anne Griffith was visiting – guess where? - the descendants of the murderous family at Harpham, when she was set upon. Knowing she would die of her injuries she made her family promise to keep some part of her within the new house so that she could enjoy it as they did. God-fearing people that they were, they buried her in the churchyard. The moral of this story is, do not go against the wishes of the dying. To cut a long story short, her skull still resides somewhere within the Hall, probably built into the wall of the great hall. The present family aims to keep it there.

Supernatural fiction? Don’t say that in my home county, it's all too real.

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