Mossock Hall Boggart (Bickerstaffe)

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Editor’s Note: Mossock Hall is an interesting example of the boggart as ghost rather than fairy, something relatively common in nineteenth-century Lancashire. The following account dates to 1893.

Mossock Hall is really just within the Boundary of Bickerstaffe; the situation is very lonely, standing in the middle of fields some little distance from the high road to Prescot. It is a quaint brick edifice, a noticeable feature being the chimney (8 feet square) which occupies a large amount of space in the house. The attic rooms have clay floors, and the walls exhibit the mud and wicker construction often to be met with in old houses. Forty years ago the place was in a very neglected state, and was surrounded with timber and old hedges. It was generally believed by the neighbours to be haunted, and was known for some time as Boggart Hall, the only inhabitant then being a farm labourer. The stories told are, that one of the ghosts, with clanking chains, used to walk on stormy nights along a dark and narrow road leading from opposite the old barn. The house itself had a ghost of its own, that of a lady in a green dress, who followed any visitor leaving ‘in the night season;’ would bang the door and disappear. It would seem these ghosts were laid to rest after a sum of money had been found, which, gossip says, was concealed either on the staircase in the balustrades, which are hollow and of great thickness, or in a coffin-shaped receptacle on the landing, which evidently had been a secret place for hiding valuables or plate in troublous times. One of the remarkable objects on the farm is a huge stone trough near the stables, which at one time lay in a field near the house. Report has it, that if moved from that spot, it always was mysteriously replaced during the night. In 1875 an old sleeve-link was found near the roots of a large thorn opposite the principal door of the house. It is said to have belonged to Lord Charliemont, whose name it bore, and must have remained buried for more than two centuries.

G. Coulthard Newstead, 19-20

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