Ghostly encounters at Smithills Hall

Smithills is not just famous for its grandeur and beauty. The atmosphere in the building and its long history seems to inspire ghost stories, many of which are gathered on this page.


Ghosts in the house

Unsuprisingly, considering it's long history, over the years there have been many spooky sightings and odd experiences at Smithills Hall

The hall was passed on to the Barton family in 1485, and was home to them for almost 200 years. During the War of the Roses, John Barton fought and died at the Battle of St Albans.

In the great hall, a reputed psychic has reported seeing a strange looking man and a woman, both of whom appeared to be in 15th century dress. The man appeared to be strong, whilst the woman seemed to be distressed.

Could this unexplained experience be connected to the fate of John Barton?

George Marsh and the Green Room

Following his trial as a Protestant during the reign of the devoted Catholic Queen, Mary Tudor, Bolton farmer George Marsh was bought before Robert Barton (the owner of the estate) in the hall's Green Room. George was burned at the stake on the 24th April of 1555.

A visitor has related that, on a visit to Smithills as a child, he noticed a man at the top of the stairs to the Green Room. As a result, when the museum attendant announced to the vistor's family that it was locking up time, the visitor mentioned there was also a man upstairs.

To his amazement the attendant explained that the family were the only visitors left in the hall.To this day the visitor is convinced that the only explanation is that the 'man' upstairs was George Marsh.

The Green Room where George Marsh was questioned is considered to be the most haunted room at Smithills.

The chapel

There have also been unexplained encounters in the chapel.

One day, one of the Friends of Smithills Hall  who was in the building before it was opened to the public, entered the chapel to and saw that there was someone already in there kneeling in prayer.

On meeting a colleague in the corridor, he mentioned that there was also someone in the chapel.The colleague went to have a look and returned to say that there was no one there.

More recently, a member of staff removing some dead flowers from the chapel was pushed from behind into the wall with such force that they received grazes.

More strange encounters

At one time a Pugin mirror used to hang in the hall's shop. One day, the shop manager happend to glance in the mirror and spotted that there was a man watching from the doorway, dressed in black with white bushy hair.

The manager turned around, but the man was not there. The manager saw the same man again twice, with the third sighting taking place on the stairs.

Was the man in black one of the Ainsworths, who inherited the house in 1870?

In Colonel Ainsworth’s room, when the hall is opened up in the mornings, the staff often have to set the glasses on the table back in their right place, as during the night they have somehow been moved or turned upside down.

There are many other unusual and unexplained happenings which staff, volunteers and visitors experience regularly. 

The barrier ropes in the museum often swing of their own accord, as if someone has just brushed passed them. Staff members have also heard the meowing of cats and the giggling of children, when cats and children are nowhere to be seen......

Ghosts in the grounds

Even after you have walked out through the doors you are not safe from the supernatural, as unexplained events and experiences have also occurred in the grounds outside the hall.

During the last week of May in 1644, Prince Rupert’s troops, having relieved the siege of Lathom House, stormed Bolton town, putting peope to the sword.  However, some of the population did manage to flee to safety, either on foot or horseback, 

A member of staff who worked at the hall when it was a residenial home, later described how the sounds of horses passing the house were heard regularly, going on late into the night. However, when the noises where heard, anyone checking would see no sign of either horses or riders. The hall was a residential home between the 1930s and the 1990s.

One summer a local theatre company performed at the hall. On one occasion the director arrived early, and was enjoying the evening sunshine, when he heard the sound of footsteps coming across the gravel towards him.

The director turned to find out who it was, but there was no-one there.

Could you see a ghost?

Next time you visit, keep your eyes and ears open, as you too could see something strange.

If you are especially brave, you could even book yourself, your family and your friends on a ghost tour, led by the Friends of Smithills Hall. You can then see for yourself where some of the strange sightings have taken place.

If you’re even braver still, why not come along to one of our Ghost Investigations, to take part in supernatural experiments throughout the night?