Gill House Bromfield, Aspatria. Cumbria

Gill house - Photo Provided by Laurie Kemp

During World War II Gill House was used as a dormitory for the Woman’s Land Army, since then its laid claim to being one of the most haunted houses in Cumbria.
Photo Provided by Laurie Kemp

Gill House is a fine old farmhouse nestling in a wooded dell near Bromfield, Aspatria. During the war a great deal of strange phenomena was reported, one of the girls staying there awoke, throwing the room of girls into a panic as she screamed  that she was being strangled by something unseen and being pulled through the bed.

This along side several other reported events  led to an investigation by the Canon of Carlisle the Late W. J. Phythian Adams.

During the haunting and subsequent investigations an apparition was seen several times, which passed through a closed door, and at night noises could be heard along with peculiar smells, which permeated the building.

Several Investigators have also documentated, loud footsteps, sudden and extreme drop in temperature, tapping and knocking noises emitting from the walls and tstrange odors. One of the rooms was closed down due to the intensity of the phenomena. It seems that the disturbances died down after the building ceased to be used by the W.L.A.

It has been surmised that the house harbours the spirit of a woman hater, its possible the ghost may have been that of an 18th-century satanist, Gerald Reay, who had stolen the consecrated House from St Kentigern’s Church, or his grandson, Jackson, who had murdered his wife, or it may be the mysterious figure often seen dragging a long-haired woman through the churchyard at Bromfield.

Loves a good ghost story, especially whilst sat in front of an open log fire on a cold and dark winters night.

36 Comments on "Gill House Bromfield, Aspatria. Cumbria"

  1. Martin Hetherington says:

    My late Grandmother served in the Women’s Land Army during World War Two, and was billeted at Gill House. An extremely level-headed woman, and not given to flights of fancy, she informed me that while staying there she’d heard unexplained noises and witnessed what can only be described as poltergeist activity.

  2. David Mashiter says:

    I have lived only a mile from the Gill Mansion as I have always known it I was born 1958 before Nigel Sidaway bought the property myself and pals used to play in the house when it was empty by opening a front window had great times running around the old house, but one day while playing upstairs we all turned cold and heard something strange an I can assure you we left the house at great speed and never went back… the pic is deffo the back entrance to the house as from the front it has a lovely outlook over the gardens and the beck at the bottom.
    And as for somebody commenting about the pigs screaming I am 60 this year and all my life I have visited and worked at the farm opposite and in all that time they NEVER kept pigs.

  3. Brian Edger Reay says:

    I was born at Langrigg Bank, (1942) and as it was a short walk through fields, I spent a lot of my childhood in the Gill woods. Like others I can confirm your picture of the house is true.
    I am not a believer in ghosts but I was always told that the house was haunted by the murdered lady. The following passage is from Bulmers Directory of Cumberland 1901.
    Scales: A hamlet of dispersed houses 1 mile S of Bromfield is the property of G.Reay Esq.
    Tradition says the lands of Gill were granted to one of his ancestors by William the Lion, King of Scotland, in the 12th century, “not only as a reward for his fidelity to his prince, but as a memorial of his extraordinary swiftness of foot in pursuing the deer, outstripping in fleetness most of the horses and dogs”, whence they appear to have been surnamed Reay, from the Anglo-Saxon word rah or raeh, signifying a roe or roebuck: and in confirmation of this, we have the family crest. a stag with the motto, “In Omnia promptus” (Prompt in everything.) The conditions of the grant were that he should pay a peppercorn yearly, and that the name of William should if possible be perpetuated in the family. From the forgoing, it appears that the Gill estate has belonged invariably to the Reays, as long, perhaps, as any other estate in the kingdom has to one family. These conditions were duly observed until about three generations ago, when, after eminent legal advice, the eldest son was named John.

    • Justin Downes says:


      I have a photograph of my great uncle, Alexander Lindsay his wife, friends and dogs, sitting on a bench outside the Gill.
      I believe they lived there in the 20’s and 30’s. He was a retired tea planter from Ceylon.
      I can send you and image and perhaps you could verify.
      Best wishes


    • Brian Edger Reay, do you still live in the area of the Gill House? I am trying to find my ancestors and relatives with surname Reay/Ray in the Bromfield area. I have a researcher in the area but would like to meet with Reays who descended from the Gill House Reays. Could you give me your email so we could chat about this. Thank you. I am coming to the area in mid April.

    • Brian Edger Reay, please contact Janice Ray Hallman at about Gill House and Reay ancestry. Thanks.

  4. My name is Janice Ray Hallman. My family have close ties with this mysterious wonderful place, some residing in home farm dunnichen at the bottom of the hill. Quite Interesting that a King bridie McBill was there and us forfarians wonder where the Famous farfir Bridie originates from.?? Could it be McBill?
    I am searching for my Reay ancestors. My earliest known Reay/Ray ancestor was William Ray (approx. 1660-1737). He married Anne, not sure of her original surname. William showed up in Maryland, United States, in late 1600’s to early 1700’s, and bought land there. His first son was William, born about 1685. I see that a message from Andrew Morrison on this site says that a William Ray, lived on the Gill House property, and emigrated to America in the 1700’s. I would like to locate records of this William Ray, to try to determine if he is the same William Ray who was my English ancestor. If anyone knows of how to contact Mr. Morrison, please contact me at

    Also I am interested in contacting Mr. N.D. Sidaway and Mrs. Susanna Charles, who live on the Gill House property, to find out more about my Reay ancestors.

    • Barbara Charles says:

      Does anyone know if George Charles who married Susannah Reay, is the same George Charles who had previously been married to Mary Stephenson?

  5. Chris Chappell says:

    I was tutored by Kenneth Campbell, 1962/3 I think, I didn’t know he been to prison for abuse. The most unhappy time of my life! He was lucky it was only prison. I never came back to give him the hiding he should have had.
    He kicked our bottoms as he banged our heads against the passage wall as he marched us back to the class room for failing to remember the next French number that we should recite as we sat at the meal table. We went as much as 24 hours without eating if Campbell thought we had done something wrong.

    I could never go back, even now that man, he kept a revolver in his top drawer of his desk, haunts me. I wanted to go back when I was older to confront him, but if he went to prison seems as if someone got to him first. I suspect he abused his wife and two daughters and sons, I hope now he burns in hell. The screaming came from the abused boys, whose hair he pulled, who endured abused that today would have seen Kenneth Campbell in prison for many years. Not surprised his wife left him, says it all really.

  6. Martin Campbell says:

    In my time I never saw a ghost but did run screaming downstairs when I saw what I thought was one only to get to safety to discover my sister was absent and then appeared carrying an evening dress high above her head.

  7. Martin Campbell says:

    I can add a little to the other comments as I lived at Gill House form 1950 to 1963 – when my mother left with my brother/sisters.
    The house was rented by my parents from 1947 and I’m not sure when my father came away – probably c 1965. It was a ‘crammer’ and was very successful in helping young boys get through their Common Entrance. Discipline was strict and the 5-acre grounds afford much pleasure to a small boy. The picture is of the house and that side faced a bank running down to a tennis court, then river, which froze over most winters and was good for skating. At the end of the property there is a concrete bridge my father built and this goes up to a fine well where the water is very clean and pure.
    The telephone came in 1959 followed a year later by electricity.

  8. gareth roberts says:

    as a kid i grew up at lowscales and as a top athlete at the time i would daily run through the gill, one summer about 94-95 my 2 brothers and mother accompanied me on there bikes as i ran, we came just short of the gill about to cross and we heard an almight scream it sounded more like a pig been murdered, we all froze and we weren’t scared initially just curious but then it happened again and it sounded like a roaring lion it was coming from the biggest oak tree right next to the gill and then it happened again and then i thought it sounded like women screaming at this point my mother started screaming and telling us to leave they scarpered as fast as they could back from where we came! im an athiest and dont believe in any kind of paranormal things so i approached the tree and the noise happened again i couldnt fathom whether it was coming from the tree or the ground one thing i am sure of it wasnt the tree its self making the noise i became very fearful of what it was and legged it to, im sure there is a rational explination but it was only in 2006 my girlfriend in elgin ( ive lived in scotland since 2000) had a book of the most haunted places in britain and this was in it, it really was one of the freakist things and unexplainable things ive ever witnessed,, but for anyone thats ever been down there the setting is very spooky and maybe that combined with something bizarre but very rational made us think something unnatural occourred

    • Brendan Sidaway says:

      This is my grandfathers house and i go there to visit most holidays, just wanted to let you know that what you heard was probably a pig being killed as even up to now they kill pigs on the farmhouse opposite very often. I always hear the pigs squealing and other animals. The trees also make the area good for sound to travel so even if you weren’t next to the farm you could probably hear it clearly.

  9. rishika says:

    Hi, I need to know more details about this house, could anyone give me information?

    • Justin Downes says:

      What do you need to know?

    • Tom Bertram says:

      Dear Rishika.
      I know this house very well. During the 1950’s it was owned by a Mr Kenneth Campbell. He use it as a school. I was a pupil there from 1957 to 1959. The house in those days had no electricity. It was very elegant inside and the gardens extended to probably about 3 acres. White stucco with an elegant period columned porch over the front door. A dining room in the left hand bay and a billiard room in the right hand. Sweeping staircase to the upper floor( we were never allowed up it) 5 bedrooms.

  10. Justin Downes says:

    I have a photograph of The Gill. Aspatria which was owned by my great uncle, Alexander Lindsay in the 1920’s. I have picture of him and his family sitting outside in the garden.

  11. Jean Hawker says:

    Jackson Reay who murdered his wife Elizabeth Dobinson was my ggg Grandfather. I am interested in the assumption that the `ghost of Gill`could be either Jackson or his Grandfather Gerald Reay. I am unable to find a Gerald Reay in the family tree. Jackson`s Grandfather would have been a William Reay as was the tradition, up until that time, that the eldest son of the Reay family took the name William, which was one of the conditions which was set down when the grant of the lands of Gill by William the Lion was made.
    I would be interested to receive any thoughts others may have on this.

    • Gillian Ray-Barruel says:

      Hi Jean,
      I am a direct descendant of George Reay (1769–1846) of Gill House. He was my great-great-great-grandfather. George’s parents were John Reay and Julia Jackson, married July 13, 1769, (probably because Julia was expecting George, I’m guessing).
      So I think George and Jackson were probably brothers.
      George Reay married Mary Potter in 1790 and had 9 children.
      George’s son Isaac changed the name to Ray and was transported on a convict ship to Australia in 1830 for highway robbery.
      By the way, my uncle Ian Ray has written a book on the history of the Ray family in Australia, which is how I know about this history. He was also unable to find a Gerald Reay in the family tree.

      • Thomas Ray says:

        I am interested in any family tree information regarding the Ray’s from Cumberland. I have trace my lineage to this family or it seems that I have more recently I did a DNA profile from and it puts my lineage in the Cumberland area. of Scotland. Thank for any information. I can be reached at tnjb1970 @

  12. hollie says:

    You should check out the Skinburness hotel in Skinburness, It’s an awful place gives off very bad vibes… Worst feeling I have ever had from a building was there and that was only passing by, I just wanted to get as far away from it as I could get :S

  13. Shauna says:

    Do you think this house will do an overnight tour ? March time this year ? Very very interested ! Someone please reply

    • Zoe Key says:

      This is my Grandfathers house and he would not let people in the house under any circumstances I’m afraid. He has been asked before and, as a cynical man, refused to let people look around. Sorry.

  14. Laurie Kemp UK says:

    See my book Ghosts of Cumbria page 25 for picture of Gill House

    • Hi Laurie,
      Many thanks for taking the time to comment, perhaps if you would be kind enough to donate the picture to the site Id be happy to update the post with it, and give you full credit.

  15. Andrew Morrison says:

    The picture shown is NOT that of Gill House. I have been to Gill House twice – once with a descendant of a Wm Reay who was born in the original medieval house which stood on the same site, and who emigrated to North America in the 17th century.

    • Hello Andrew,
      Many thanks for taking the time to comment, do you per chance have an up to date photograph of Gill house? if so feel free to send it in and ill be happy to update the post with it. The image used is referenced in The Ghosts of Cumbria by Laurie Kemp and also News & Star Newspaper.

      • Zoe Key says:

        Gill House is in fact my Grandfather’s house and I can say with 100% certainty that that photo is a picture of one side of Gill House.

        • Andrew Morrison says:

          I would agree 100% with you that the photograph now shown IS that of Gill House. I can only presume that unless I was completely mistaken, that the photograph shown has been updated from that which originally appeared (refer to the comment made by Laurie Kemp on Feb 14).

        • James Askew says:

          Zoe Key – who is your Grandfather? My great grandmother was a Reay and married a Poole. Her daughter was Ester Poole married James W. Askew. They were my grandparents. Not sure if this is the house Ester grew up in. Are you related or know Reay, Poole or Askew?
          My aunt painted a picture of the Gill house and it is hanging in my parents house.

          • Zoe Key says:

            He is a Sidaway who moved into Gill House in the 60’s (I think it was 1969) from Shropshire, I don’t think I am related to anyone with those names.

        • Mark Hankin says:


          This may seem a little forward, but do you think your Grandfather would allow a Cumbria based paranormal investigation team to investigate this property? We are called Cumbria Ghost Hunts and would very much like to discuss this with you. Our email address is Many thanks and kind regards, Mark

        • Victor temple says:

          Dear Miss Key,quite by chance I came across Gill House, and remember being tutored there by a Mr Campbell. this would have been circa 1953. Do I have the correct Gill House? Nothing like travelling down memory lane! Victor Temple.

          • Tom Bertram says:

            How very interesting I must have missed you by about 3 years. Not a happy time. I believe he went to prison for abuse after I left in 59.

      • Justin Downes says:

        If you send me an email address I am happy to send an image of my uncle, Alexander Lindsay and his dogs and family outside The Gill.
        I have to say my mother, who frequently stayed with her uncle, never once mentioned any stories of hauntings.

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