The name Dunkenhalgh comes from Roger de Dunkenhalgh who built the manor house at the end of the 12th century. Much has happened to the Tudor house in its 700 year history and of course many people, good and bad have died there during that time.
Dunkenhalgh Hall is on the outskirts of Clayton le Moors and the River Hyndburn runs through the extensive grounds a few hundred yards away.
The Petre Family.
Lord Robert Edward Petre, 9th Baron, was a British peer and member of the English Catholic nobility. He inherited exceptional wealth and was one of the richest men in the Kingdom, with properties in Mayfair and large estates in Essex, Surrey and Lancashire.
The Lancashire estate was Dunkenhalgh Hall, passing into the Petre family in 1712 and remained with the family until 1947.
In the 1778 a young French woman named Lucette, became governess to the Petre’s children at Dunkenhalgh Hall.
A British Army captain from the light regiment named Starkie, was a guest of the family and took a shine to Lucette. He was aware that he was soon to be posted overseas to fight George Washington’s forces in the American War of Independence, but was determined to woo Lucette before his posting.
17th Light Dragoons Who Fought During The AmericanRevolution.
Captain Starkie and Lucette conducted a secret liaison at the hall. The young governess fell in love with the dashing dragoon captain, soon becoming pregnant. Captain Starkie, being an officer but not a gentleman, denounced Lucette and his unborn child, promptly leaving for America to join General Sir Henry Clinton’s forces.
Lucette was mortified. Unable to tell her strict Catholic employers that she had become pregnant outside wedlock and unable to return home to France, only to bring shame on her family, that Christmas Eve, the distraught Lucette threw herself off the bridge into the raging River Hyndburn below.
Her body was found in a reed bed the following morning and carried back to the house as the family were getting ready for the Christmas Day church service.
Dunkenhalgh Bridge (Photo attributed to Chris Heaton).
According to legend, Lucette’s brother swore revenge for her death and tracked down Captain Starkie, challenged him to duel, and showing no mercy fatally wounded the dragoon officer with his sword, to avenge his sister.
The Woman in White.
The ghost of Lucette still haunts the fifteen acres of grounds and the house to this day. A woman in a white shroud has been seen many times, especially at Christmas, moving through the grounds towards the bridge, where Lucette took her life and the life of her unborn child.
There have been numerous paranormal investigations, seances and television programmes to capture evidence and make contact with The Woman in White, some being more successful than others. The ghost dressed in white has even appeared in wedding photographs.
The Dunkenhalgh Hall and its 175 rooms, is now the luxury five star Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa. Many guests and staff have reported seeing the ghost of Lucette, some of guests have awoken to find the figure of a woman dressed in white sat on the edge of the bed, but most sightings are of a woman in white wandering through the grounds on Christmas Eve.
The hotel offers ghost weekends and promotes itself as one of the most haunted hotels in the United Kingdom. A travel website lists the Dunkenhalgh Hotel in the ‘top ten most haunted hotels in the world’.
If you are lucky enough to be staying at the five star Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa over Christmas, you may get more than you expected……………
Sources of reference: Lancashire Evening Telegraph, BBC web page – Haunted Houses, Simon Entwistle(paranormal investigator) and Wikipedia.
This post was first published on the horrorboundbooks blog in December 2018 and has been republished on the request of a reader for Christmas 2020.
All photos, apart from the one credited to Chris Heaton, courtesy of Google images.
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Have a peaceful Christmas and 2021.