Is Bretherton Bank Hall haunted by the ghostly figure of a woman walking her dog?
Bretherton Bank Hall stands by the River Douglas in the Lancashire village of Bretherton, 9 miles from Preston, 25 from Liverpool. Tarleton, Croston and Hoole are nearest villages and towns. From Tarleton the Bretherton Bank Hall can be reached via Bank Bridge which carries the A59 over the Douglas and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
Immediately you cross the busy bridge you will see the lodge and it’s gates nestling beneath the huge beech tree. Coming from Hoole, also on the A59, your imminent approach will take you past Carr House, a fine Elizabethan farmhouse, and the 18th century windmill. From Bretherton the route is altogether more tranquil, along a country lane dotted with only a handful of houses and along a Carriage Drive, a splendid tree lined avenue some 800 yards long. Whichever way we approach the hall we pass through the cloak of trees which hides it away from the outside world.
Not the most well known building in the country, it is, nevertheless one of the most beautiful and interesting. Yet one could pass by every day and be unaware of its existence, the lofty chimneys and the remnants of the clock tower only faintly glimpse over the tree tops. Indeed, only the lodge gives a clue to the fact that there, behind the pines and past the huge sixty metre barn lies a veritable jewel.
Bank Hall is now unoccupied. It has deteriorated to a very poor reflection of its former glory. Gone are the lime trees which flanked the drive to the front door. Gone are the stone lions that faithfully stood guard. The giant cedar with its huge spreading branches no longer casts its graceful shadow over the pleasure grounds. The tall chimneys have become overgrown with ivy, which has now claimed more than half of the building. The majestic clock tower has lost its northerly elevation which has fallen into the stairwell below, crashing through the seventeenth-century oak staircase. Dry rot has penetrated the fabric of the building with whole sections of the floor falling down and rain pouring through gaping holes in the roof.
Despite the devastation that time and neglect has brought to the great house, it still retains an air of distinction and the very nature of its ruinous state adds to the mystique that encompasses the entire site. In the solitude of early morning, shrouded in mist, the rocks call from their look out in the tower. What events have taken place in the centuries of Bank Halls’ existence? What changes has it witnessed in the conditions of English rural life?
Bank Hall belongs to a period very different to ours, a time of servants and gardeners, butlers and coachmen. Such vast houses had no place after The Great War and gradually became left to dereliction and decay, owner and local authority alike unable to halt the decline. Perhaps it is due to the concealed and veiled nature of Bank Hall that so little appears to be commonly known about the details of its history. Indeed, most people from Leyland or Chorley, for example, would be at a loss to answer the question “Where is Bank Hall?” even though it is little more than five miles from either.
Bank Hall is a two-and-a-half storey brick built house with roofs of Cumbrian slate standing in formerly ornamental parkland. It has a north-facing entrance front and south-facing garden front.
The earliest identifiable phase of the present building dates from the early 17th century and is characterised by brick work in English garden wall bond. The ground consists of a four-bay hall with a parlour to the west and wing containing two rooms to the east.
Probably in the second quarter of the 17th century a four-storey stair tower was added in the re-entrant angle of the hall and wing. This retains it original open well staircase. An addition east of the south end of the wing and incorporating a ground floor room, may be contemporary with the stair tower.
In1832-33 the house was extensively remodelled, probably by the Kendal-based architect, George Webster, in an early example of 19th-century Jacobean style. The main entrance porch on the north side, a drawing room wing at the west end, extensive service accommodation at the east and probably the north wing, were all added in this phase. At the same time the south, or garden front was considerably altered. The angle formed by the 17th century house and the west wing was infilled in the late-19th century.
There have been reports that a woman in a white dress has been spotted walking her dog in the distance from the gates of the Bretherton Bank Hall.
Its is said she and her pet vanish without a trace the moment you take your eyes off her.
Other reports from Bretherton Bank Hall include the whispering of peoples names in visitors ears when no one else is close.