Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 1/Wyecoller Hall and the Spectre Horseman


Wyecoller Hall, near Colne, was long the seat of the Cunliffes of Billington. They were noted persons in their day, and the names of successive members of the family are attached to documents relating to the property of the Abbots of Whalley. But evil days came, and their ancestral estates passed out of their hands. In the days of the Commonwealth their loyalty cost them dear; and ultimately they retired to Wyecoller with a remnant only of their once extensive estates. About 1819 the last of the family passed away, and the Hall is now a mass of ruins. Little but the antique fire-place remains entire; and even the room alluded to in the following legend cannot now be identified. Tradition says that once every year a spectre horseman visits Wyecoller Hall. He is attired in the costume of the early Stuart period, and the trappings of his horse are of a most uncouth description. On the evening of his visit the weather is always wild and tempestuous. There is no moon to light the lonely roads, and the residents of the district do not venture out of their cottages. When the wind howls the loudest the horseman can be heard dashing up the road at full speed, and after crossing the narrow bridge, he suddenly stops at the door of the hall. The rider then dismounts and makes his way up the broad oaken stairs into one of the rooms of the house. Dreadful screams, as from a woman, are then heard, which soon subside into groans. The horseman then makes his appearance at the door—at once mounts his steed—and gallops off the road he came. His body can be seen through by those who may chance to be present; his horse appears to be wild with rage, and its nostrils stream with fire. The tradition is that one of the Cunliffes murdered his wife in that room, and that the spectre horseman is the ghost of the murderer, who is doomed to pay an annual visit to the home of his victim. She is said to have predicted the extinction of the family, which has literally been fulfilled.