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Haunting times at East Riddlesden
East Riddlesden Hall
East Riddlesden Hall welcomes thousands of visitors - but it has a strange side

Halloween may be over for another year but that doesn't mean things don't still go bump in the night - especially at East Riddlesden Hall near Keighley.

In fact, staff at the 17th century manor say there's been a recent surge in strange activity there.

From objects mysteriously moving from one place to another to spooky sightings, it's a been a busy time.

Samantha Lawson, visitor services manager, says: "The hall has always had a history of supernatural activity.

Ruined wing at East Riddlesden
The ruined wing at East Riddlesden is a spooky reminder of things past

"The house was built in the 1630s but it's believed that there was something on the site going back to Saxon times. It would stand to reason that at some point in its history there have been births and deaths here.

"Through the 75 years that people have worked here with the National Trust there have been various stories from them and from people who have visited about the ghosts that are here."

With its ruined and derelict wing, East Riddlesden Hall can certainly seem slightly spooky at any time, but it seems that East Riddlesden's ghosts and spirits are really making their presence felt just now.

Samantha says changes at the hall often seem to lead to an increase in what's thought to be paranormal activity and, with the recent departure of a staff member, it was only a matter of time.

She says: "Our education officer has recently moved. In the first two or three weeks before she packed up her things we started to notice things.

"A volunteer said she saw a shadow up here. She thought it was a member of staff but there was nobody in that day.

"These are people who are actually quite cynical about the whole thing but they come down and say, 'I wouldn't have believed it until I saw a shadow'."

Samantha in the Grey Lady's Chamber at East Riddlesden Hall
Samantha Lawson in the Grey Lady's chamber at East Riddlesden

And it's not just shadows. In fact, it seems that hardly a month goes by that some sort of spooky activity is reported at East Riddlesden Hall.

Samantha says: "The house steward, who is in charge of conservation for the house, knows where everything belongs. He's never seen anything but he'll state categorically that he's been in certain rooms and things have moved.

"We know that we haven't moved them because we lock the house up at night. You can find that an inkwell has moved from a table to a sideboard and you know you haven't done it."

The Grey Lady is another commonly-felt presence at East Riddlesden - so much so that the bedroom where she is most often seen has been named after her.

Samantha explains: "There's a tale that she was found by her husband in this room in flagrante with a passing merchant.

"He actually boarded-up the room and wouldn't let her leave and she starved to death.

"We've had numerous reports over the years of people who have seen the Grey Lady. Quite often it's children who wouldn't necessarily know the story. They have said, 'Who is the lady in the corner?'"

There have also been sightings of the Blue Lady who is said to have drowned in the fish pond at the hall, various ghostly cats, dogs and horses and even children.

No-one is saying it's malicious. They're not spooking anyone and they're not bothering people
Samantha Lawson, East Riddlesden

Samantha says: "We've had school groups who have come through in costumes and at one point the then catering manager thought she saw a little boy in costume who had got lost from the group.

"She went to speak to him but he didn't respond to her. She came into the office and said, 'There's a little boy out there and I don't know what's the matter with him'.

"But we didn't have any school groups in on that day."

One particular room at East Riddlesden Hall, the lady of the house's room, leaves some staff and visitors feeling more than a little uncomfortable - though no-one can ever really explain why.

Samantha gives one example: "We have a volunteer who isn't particularly sensitive, psychic-wise, but just feels very, very uncomfortable in this room. In fact, they find it very difficult to physically breathe in here so they don't come in. Any room but this one.

"They've tried it and they do genuinely show physical manifestations of discomfort."

There is, in fact, so much strange and, some might say, paranormal activity at East Riddlesden that staff there have decided not to allow ghost investigators into the house so that any non-human visitors don't get disturbed.

The lady of the house's chamber at East Riddlesden
The lady of the house's chamber can have a strange atmosphere

Samantha explains: "We felt that if there were perfectly happy ghosts or spirits here that were quite contented with the rhythm of things and then groups came in to hunt them down they would probably react quite badly!"

However, Samantha doesn't want anyone to be put off from visiting the house because of all this spooky activity.

She says: "For all the paranormal activity we've got, no-one is saying that it's malicious. They're not spooking anyone and they're not bothering people.

"Certainly I've never been afraid of anything here. I'm more afraid of the living who might come here onto the property at night than I am of the dead.

"I think it's a bit reassuring to know that you might be knocking around in a big building but you're not on your own."

For more information on East Riddlesden Hall take a look at the National Trust Website




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