The Ghosts and Ghouls of Lancaster


Lancaster’s history may cause horror to those who read too much into the it, but many of these stories are unknown to Lancaster University students. On this frightful Halloween, it’s time to discover the greater secrets of Lancaster and learn about the ghosts that truly do haunt the halls of our city.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to climb the hill reaching Williamson Park, you’re in for a treat. The hill is a beautiful spot to spend your evenings, away from the worries of assignments and deadlines, rather it is a place to see the horizon extend to the hills of Furness across Morecambe Bay. However, it has a sinister background.

If you’ve visited the Ashton Memorial, you may know that it was built by Lord Ashton for his second wife’s passing, but what is less discussed is that the land in which a memorial has been placed is the likely local of the ‘Gallows Hill’, the demise of the Pendle Witches.

There are no signs that claim this, no signs that prove that Williamson Park, an inconspicuous, gorgeous landmark, could be anything other than a place to take your friends and family. Yet it is one the most haunted places in Lancaster.

It is rumoured that the Pendle Witch trials found their end at the drop of a noose there, and if you go on the Lancaster castle tour, where the Pendle witches were originally held and put on trial in the castle itself, the guide will tell you that ‘Gallows Hill’ is where the witches were hung and where Williamson Park now lies.

However, the exact location isn’t known, and others believe that ‘Hallows Hill’ is close to where Lancaster Royal Grammar School cricket field now lies.

Yet there are more haunting elements to Lancaster than just the Pendle Witches. Within the walls of the Lancaster Castle, there are still working courtrooms which occasionally still hold trails and, even still, a handprint stains the walls of the ‘Hanging Corner’, a location which was more convenient than the walk up to the ‘Hill’ to hang criminals before the public.

Sceptics claim it is either a child’s, or an unfortunate Halloween decoration, but those who are more willing to believe, may not see the marking as a decoration gone wayward, but instead an unfortunate prisoner or a ‘jailer pacing the halls, jangling his keys’ as claims VisitLancaster’s website.  

There are other locations within the city of Lancaster that deserve a mention, notably the house of the ‘Savage Surgeon’, the owner of the house on Dalton Square, where a husband, where Buck Ruxton brutally murdered his wife and tried to hide the evidence in newspapers. There have been multiple reports of the ghostly apparition of a woman in the upstairs windows.

Allegedly, ‘The Golden Lion’ holds its own level of haunting, as it was said prisoners would be allowed to have their last drink on their walk from the castle to Gallows Hill.  

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