Hoghton Tower and the potentially fake science of ghosts
The concept of somewhere being ‘the third most haunted house,’ in the country interests me greatly. Who and by what means accurately and resolutely measures ghostly phenomenon into some sort of Supernatural Pie chart?
Does one Screaming Lady irregularly seen push a stately home up a chart past some turreted building where phantom monks have mournfully chanted for centuries but have not been seen since 1956?
Is a faithful phantom dog worth more than the occasional lament heard from a child lost in a well? I want a Venn Diagram.
The elderly guide speaks in calm convinced Lancashire tones. ‘We have been measured by The Pschosomething Association (I am not quite sure what he said but it sounded all proper and Sciency) and we were third.’
I mention Samlesbury Hall as possibly also being in the top three. I am stared at again and my question about Salmesbury Hall, a close neighbour and potential rival to Hoghton Towers is not replied to.
This is intriguing. Like Eastenders played out in places with turrets and tea rooms. I have been to Samlesbury Hall and there were no sly digs about Hoghton Tower’s ghosts being a gamekeeper in a white sheet- a reference found on yet another shadowy website. The mire gets thicker ever minute.
But then again, there was a loud vacuum cleaner on at Samlesbury Hall so I did not hear much.
A bit of internet research does not have Hoghton Tower on a top three of the most haunted houses unless the phrase ‘reputed to be’ is used and then normally on a Lancashire based portal of knowledge.
I want Maths dammit! I want vague use of numbers and pretend science! This will instil in me a fake sense of trust.
I only found out the two hour guided tour was two hours long and not suitable for children after nearly two hours spent trying to console the toddler with a forbidden iPhone (‘please remember to turn your mobile phones off’,’ whilst looking at a succession of chairs. I was happy looking at chairs, my partner was mutinous about the chairs and they roles they led in a monarchic privileged society that fed on the blood of the workers and the toddler lay spread eagled on the floor and demanded Percy Pigs with increasing volume and ferocity.
I finally desperately ask the guide to release my family and he seems suspiciously happy to shove them out of an studded oak door somewhere in the quagmires of a floor somewhere. I wonder if I will ever see them again. But for eight pound a ticket, it would be churlish to expect more value for money.
It is the price of a ticket to the Odeon to instead spend a day wandering around such dizzying time-scales of history, legend, royalty, loyalty, death, war and romance that it feels like something the Americans invented for Disneyland- the Full English. The guide is superb, his dotage such that leads one to believe he might have witnessed the explosion of the Norman Keep during the Civil War from a personal vantage point and might not last the actual tour.
William Shakespeare used to work here, many kings and queens have resided here such as James 1st. It has been stormed and that most romantic of things, a tumble down ruin for a century. Charles Dickens wrote about in a short story, George Silverman’s Explanation.
There is a cot which apparently still swings in the empty stillness of the ancient interior. It does not swing for me. I would happily have paid an extra £2.50 for that (Samlesbury Hall, take note)
Tables longer than my house and older than countries, the sudden cold chill of the morgue, the claustrophobia induced by the first priest hole, utterly voided by the second one down down down the bohemoth shadow of the giant well, for me the most visually exciting path into history and one that was used by people who never had flattering oil paintings to ease their way into a slight immortality.
A brief view of antique dolls houses and then dungeons and dankness, a tableau ever so slightly supportive of the concept of the Lancashire Witches being spell chanting instruments of Satan, and who were apparently meant to have stayed here on the way to their execution but fear of curses laid upon the Tower meant they stayed in the cellar of the pub down the road. The pub down the road seems to be quite un-cursed sadly with well groomed recession busting clientele blonde arriving in sports cars. I wonder the witches cellar was Farrow and Balled.
It’s what they would have wanted.
A hunched over skeleton lurks desparingly in the Wine vaults. I find it quite horrifying to discover it is a real skeleton kindly donated by Lady Philomena (or somesuch name, I refuse to forelock tug by actual research) when she was done with him/her after her medical training.
I wish to remove myself from The Donar Register if all I get after donating my body to Science is waking up in a fucking dungeon owned by the gentry and being looked at by bored children who should not actually be on the tour in the first place.
Then if I give a sign of my distress, it brings more of the bastards to come stare at me, the entrance fee rises and I am dead and on The One Show.
Salmsesbury Hall would not be pleased. It might end up in hardcore ghost warfare engaged in headless combat.
I was not allowed to take photos inside and by the end of the tour, I could not be arsed as was starving and had a Doritos Grab Bag in the car. So have a few crap ones to go with my monologue, go to Hoghton Tower, look for a swinging cot and do not take a child or a partner unless they are better than mine.
And before you donate your body to Science, sign a clause to ensure you will not be enslaved in a dungeon for all eternity.