Rufford Old Hall, the home of the Hesketh family, grew over three separate periods.
In 1420 Sir Thomas Hesketh built a half-timbered manor house and established the family seat for the next 350 years. Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, Sir Thomas married an heiress.
No expense was spared on the new house and, although only the great hall, with its upright timber studding, quartrefoil decoration and mullioned windows, survives from the original building, it clearly indicates the family’s wealth and position.
The manor house, according to the medieval pattern, would originally have had a cross wing at each end of the great hall.
The west wing, which housed the family apartments, has completed disappeared and the east wing, which contained the domestic offices, has been extensively rebuilt.
The magnificent great hall was built to be admired. It is 46 feet long and 22 feet wide and crowned by a splendid hammer-beam roof with quatrefoil motifs. Each massive beam is fretted with carved battlements and at the end of the supporting timbers angels (all but one now wingless) gaze down on the hall.
The Hall is reputedly haunted by three ghosts; a “Gray Lady”, a man dressed in Elizabethan clothes and Queen Elizabeth I. The “Gray Lady” has been seen many times, usually by the main entrance or on the drive leading up to the house. She is thought to be the ghost of Elizabeth Hesketh, a young woman who became seriously ill while her husband was at war overseas. She vowed that she would not die before saying goodbye to him, but he never returned so she never got the chance.
The ghost of the man in Elizabethan costume has sometimes been seen near the huge fireplace in the Great Hall. This is the spot where a secret chamber was later discovered – which it is thought was used to hide catholic priests from sight.
Queen Elizabeth I has been seen in the dining room, where she vanishes if anyone tries to approach her.
First broadcast : 20th February 2010
A self confessed super fan of Most Haunted and editor of GhostMag.com. Matt’s passion for ghost hunting began when he moved into a haunted house in his second year of university in Leicester! His favourite location is the Niddry Street Vaults in Edinburgh.