Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Appendix/Osbaldeston Hall


The origin of this ancient structure dates from Saxon times. It was evidently the home of Oswald; for this is merely another form of the name, and ton designates the homestead on his estate. This family does not appear to have been dispossessed by the Normans, the county was then perhaps too wild and uncultivated to be attractive to the conquerors; and hence we find Eilfi of Osbaldeston, a Saxon, living in the twelfth century, who had a son whose name appears in documents about 1245. The property continued in the family without interruption until 1701, when it passed into collateral lines on the death of Thomas, son of Edward Osbaldeston, the last male heir of his race. During the Tudor and early Stuart sovereigns the Osbaldestons formed one of the most distinguished families in the county; several of its members received the honour of knighthood, and one of them was connected by marriage with the Earls of Derby. They founded a Chantry in the parish church of Blackburn, and until recently a brass plate in the family chapel contained the figure of a man in armour, underneath which was the following inscription—"Here lyeth the bodye of Sir Edward Osbaldeston; a charitable, courteous, and valiant knight, qui obiit A.D. 1636, æt. 63."

The Hall at Osbaldeston is now in a dilapidated condition. From what remains it is evident that the house formerly consisted of two wings, and a large central portion set further back. On three sides it was protected by a moat, while the fourth side was swept by the river Ribble. Several ranges of transomed and mullioned windows attest the grandeur and magnificence of the place when finished by Sir Edward during the reign of the first Stuart. The large drawing-room is nearly entire, and over the fireplace are some elaborate carvings, containing the family arms with their numerous quarterings, and the initials of John, Edward, Margaret, and Maud Osbaldeston. Excessive subdivisions of the estates, consequent upon large families, led to the decline of the house, until at last the remnant was disposed of for a trifling consideration. There is one room in the old Hall whose walls are smeared with several red marks, which tradition states can never be obliterated. They have some resemblance to blood, and are considered to have been caused when one of the family was brutally murdered. It is said that there was once a great family gathering at Osbaldeston Hall, at which every member of the family was present. The feast was ended, and the liquor was flowing freely round when family differences began to be discussed. These ended in anger and recriminations, until at length two of the company challenged each other to mortal combat. Friends interfered and the quarrel seemed to be allayed, but soon after the two accidentally met in this room, and Thomas Osbaldeston drew his sword and murdered his brother-in-law without resistance. For this crime he was deemed a felon, and forfeited his lands. Ever since that time the room has been haunted. Tradition says that the ghost of the murdered man continues to visit the scene of the conflict, and during the silent hours of night it may be seen passing from the room with uplifted hands, and with the appearance of blood streaming from a wound in the breast.