Bolton may seem like the average town, but it is incredibly active when it comes to paranormal activity. There is a wide selection of haunted places to choose from including several haunted pubs, theatre, and stately homes.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most haunted places in Bolton:
6. Ye Olde Man & Scythe
Ye Olde Man & Scythe is nestled in Bolton’s town centre, and you can tell instantly from your first glance at the building that this place is old! Time seems to have stood still for the world-famous cider house to the extent that it looks totally out of place today! Needless to say, Ye Olde Man & Scythe is one of the most haunted places in Bolton and is the fourth oldest pub in the whole of Britain, and it is every bit as famous for its resident spooks as it is for holding that title!
There have been several different ghosts reported at Ye Olde Man & Scythe over the years. Still, perhaps the most famous one is the seventh Earl of Derby’s spirit who was beheaded right outside the pub! He is certainly not alone, as the pub is alleged to be haunted by no fewer than 20 restless spirits! There have even been reports of poltergeist activity! In 2014, the bar manager came downstairs to find broken glass all over the floor. Fearing a break-in, he retreated to the office to view the CCTV footage only to see glasses flying off shelves and smashing with nobody in sight!
5. The Blue Boar
Another pub that the Bolton ghosts like to call home is The Blue Boar, which stands near Ye Olde Man & Scythe. Like the pub already mentioned above, The Blue Boar is reportedly haunted. One local paranormal investigations team has dubbed this the most haunted pub that they have ever had the experience of! Some of the paranormal activity noted within The Blue Boar includes banging noises coming from an empty, sealed room and pint glasses being knocked right out of customers’ hands by unseen forces!
4. The Octagon Theatre
Bolton’s Octagon Theatre first opened in 1967, and for several years it has been regarded as one of the most haunted places in Bolton. The Octagon Theatre has its own resident spirit called Fida. The story goes that Fida was the very first wardrobe mistress at the theatre who passed away while she worked there. It seems that she has never left the theatre and from time to time sewing machines will come on of their own accord, and an apparition of Fida has also been seen in several different locations around the building.
3. Hall'i'th Wood
Hall’i’th Wood is a little bit of a hidden gem. The name translates to ‘Hall in the Woods’ and these days it is surrounded by a modern housing estate which makes it look incredibly out of place! Built back in 1648, yet records show another building on the same site before this. Hall’i’th Wood is probably best known for being the home of Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule, but it is also gaining a reputation as one of Bolton’s most haunted places.
Some of the strange occurrences that visitors have reported to Hall’i’th Wood include phantom footsteps, white mists and even full apparitions. However, the most common reports say that children who visit often run out crying saying that ‘Betty’ shouted at them and told them to leave! It is not clear who this ghost named Betty is or why she doesn’t like children coming to visit!
2. Bolton Priory
One of the most interesting places in haunted Bolton is probably Bolton Priory and its surrounding grounds. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Bolton Abbey’, but this is not accurate, the building is a priory built in 1121. The actual construction of Bolton Priory took about 350 years having been interrupted by various things including invasion, disease and bad weather! However, it still was not complete by the time of Dissolution, and the West Tower was never finished. These days only the foundations of the outhouses are visible, and the octagonal Chapter House is long gone, although the arched entrance does remain. Prior Moone continued to use the priory as a place of worship after the period of Dissolution, and the nave was secured for this purpose.
As is typical with the ruins of such buildings, Bolton Priory has tales of a ghostly clergyman! The entity that haunts Bolton Priory is known as The Black Canon. He has been seen on multiple occasions by a wide variety of people over the last few years. He is described as a man in his late sixties with a weathered face lined heavily with wrinkles. He has several days of grey stubble growth on his face and is dressed in a black cassock, black cloak, and a flat black hat. The most common places for him to be sighted are in the priory grounds, the choir and the church. There have also been frequent reports of the sound of sandal-clad feet walking in the rectory!
1 - Smithills Hall
There has been some building occupying the land where Smithills Hall now sits since the early part of the 13th century. Over the years, many influential families have been linked to the property, including the Radcliffes, the Ainsworths, and the Bartons. There is little information to be found about the Radcliffes and the Bartons other than the fact that the Radcliffes were present at both the War at Agincourt and the War of the Roses and firmly on the side of the Lancasters. However, there is a great deal more information about the Ainsworths.
Richard Ainsworth purchased Smithills Hall in 1801 when the family had accumulated considerable wealth during the Industrial Revolution as a result of their success as bleachers… Richard’s grandson inherited the building in 1870. He engaged the architect George Davy’s services to remodel some of the building’s 16th-century parts to add further wings to what was already a sprawling building. Nigel Ainsworth then inherited the hall in 1926 and later sold the property to Bolton Council in 1938 for a reported £70,000. In 1963, the council opened up some of the oldest parts of the hall as a museum while the remainder of the building served as a residential home and day centre. These days Smithills Hall serves a variety of purposes as a museum, restaurant, wedding venue and of course, a paranormal hotspot!
As you have already seen, Smithills Hall has a substantial amount of history surrounding it, so it should not come as a great surprise that this is one of the most haunted places in Bolton. If the reports are anything to go on, then this is a hive of strange occurrences. There are a large number of different Bolton ghosts who are believed to call Smithills Hall home. A mischievous spirit has been known to pinch staff and visitors on the bottom, and people frequently feel themselves being touched by unseen hands close to the stairs between the Bower and Solar rooms. A lady in period dress is seen walking on the stairs, and visitors often smell burning wood.
The Solar Room also has the spirit of a little boy with long black curls called Tommy, and occasionally he is joined by a young girl. There are also reports of Royalist soldiers passing by the windows outside the withdrawing room who are believed to be linked to the Civil War. Over in the church, a grey lady tends to sit in one of the front pews and a second spirit has been seen kneeling at the altar.
One of the most interesting paranormal tales linked to Smithills Hall is connected to George Marsh, a local curate tried in the courtroom and sentenced to death and burned at stake. It is said that Marsh left a footprint in one of the flagstones on the way to the room in which he was held. At some point, the marked flagstone was removed by one of the residents. However, as soon as it was removed, there was a considerable increase in poltergeist activity which eventually prompted it to be returned, albeit facing the wrong direction! Now there is an evil spirit in the room, and many people refuse to enter the room!
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