The Murder and Haunting of Emily Holland.

Emily’s Disappearance.

On the 28th March 1876, Emily Holland, a seven year old girl attending  St. Alban’s School in Blackburn, set off for home when the school finished at 4.30pm. She lived with her parents at 110 Moss Street, approximately 400 yards from the school.

She did not return home and was never seen alive again. Her parents reported her missing to the police that day.

Example of The Preston Herald

Gruesome Discovery.

A week later, a dismembered body was found wrapped in copies of The Preston Herald newspaper on waste land off Whalley Road in the town.  It was a child’s torso, minus the head, arms and legs. The body was identified as Emily by a birthmark on her back.
The next day her legs where found in Lower Cunliffe, and these were also wrapped in copies of The Preston Herald.

It was established Emily had been raped and her throat cut prior to dismemberment.

A huge manhunt followed to find the murderer and two rewards were offered, one for £100 and £200.

Investigation Breakthrough.

One of the police surgeons examining Emily’s body, Dr. Martland, discovered hairs of different lengths and colours, including men’s whiskers sticking to the body. He informed the police that Emily’s body must have been dismembered on the floor of a barbers shop.

The Net Closes.

Every barber’s shop in Blackburn was searched extensively by the police and suspicion fell on William Fish, who had a barber’s shop at number 4 Moss Street, near to where Emily lived. He kept a pile of The Preston Herald newspapers in date order in his shop, and when checked by the police, four issues, corresponding to those used to wrap the torso and legs were missing. Fish explained he had used them to light a fire.
He was arrested, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

A Dog Called ‘Morgan’.

Peter Taylor, from Nelson Street, Preston, saw the reward posters and offered Chief Constable Joseph Potts the use of his two dogs to track down the killer. He had a springer spaniel and a mongrel bloodhound.

It was April 16th,  Easter Sunday when the police chief, with several officers accompanied Taylor and his dogs to where the body parts had been dumped, but no scent was found by the two dogs. They then went to Fish’s barber shop, officers taking Fish and his wife with them. The part bloodhound called ‘Morgan’ soon picked up a scent on entering the shop and rushed upstairs, barking at the chimney in the front bedroom. Taylor reached up inside and from a recess pulled out the skull and other parts of Emily’s body, wrapped in more newspapers.
The skull was charred and had obviously been recently burnt.

Fish was immediately arrested for the murder of Emily Holland, and a few days later made a full written confession to the chief constable.

Mr. Chief-Constable Potts then read to the court the following confession made by the prisoner Fish:-
Police Office, Town Hall, Blackburn,
17th April, 1876, 4.40p.m.

Statement made by William Fish, who has been this day brought before the magistrates on the charge of the wilful murder of Emily Holland, on the 28th March, 1876.

I told Constable William Parkinson that I had burnt part of the clothes, and put the other part under the coals in my shed; and I now wish to say that I am guilty of the murder. I further wish to say that I do not want the innocent to suffer.  At a few minutes after five o’clock in the evening, I was standing at my shop door in Moss-street, when the deceased child came past.  She was going up Moss-street.  I asked her to bring me one half-ounce of tobacco from Cox’s shop.  She went and brought it to me.  I asked her to go upstairs and she did.  I went up with her.  I tried to abuse her, and she was nearly dead.  I then cut her throat with a razor.  This was in the front room near the fire.  I  then carried the body downstairs into the shop; cut off her head, arms and legs; wrapped up the body in newspapers on the floor; wrapped up the legs also in newspapers, and put those parcels into a box in the back kitchen.  The arms and head I put in the fire.  On the Wednesday afternoon, I took the parcel containing the legs to lower Cunliffe; and at nine o’clock that night, I took the parcel containing the body to a field at Bastwell, and threw it over the wall.  On Friday afternoon, I burnt part of the clothing. 
On the Wednesday morning, I took a part of the head which was unburnt, and put it up the chimney in the front bedroom.
I further wish to say that I did all myself, no other person had anything to do with it.
The foregoing statement has been read over to me, and is correct.  It is my voluntary statement, and before I made it, I was told that it would be taken down in writing, and given in evidence against me,

(Witnesses) ROBERT EASTWOOD, Superintendent.
                         JOSEPH POTTS, Chief Constable.


Trial and Execution.

Fish was unanimously found guilty of Emily’s murder at Liverpool Assizes, the jury coming to their decision in less than a minute. On 14th August 1876 Fish was hanged at Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool.

It was one of the most infamous crimes of the 19th century.

William Fish became the first Lancastrian to be featured in Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks, London, displayed as the ‘Blackburn Butcher’ and situated in the Hall of Horrors.

This was the first recorded case of a tracker dog being used in a murder investigation. Due to the dogs success, bloodhounds were next used during the Jack the Ripper hunt.

The dog owner received £200 reward.

Moss Street.

The terraced houses and William Fish’s barber’s shop on Moss Street were demolished in the 1960’s. Even though Moss Street still exists, there has been a complete redevelopment of the area.

The Hauntings.

Local’s have recounted stories of a child sobbing, coming from within the barber’s shop before it was demolished and the many sightings of a spectral young girl moving along Moss Street and entering Emily’s house. There is a report of police attending the barber’s shop in the 1950’s to investigate the sound of a female screaming in the empty premises.

There seems to have been paranormal activity on Moss Street after the tragic death of Emily for decades to follow, but once the Victorian housing and murder scene were demolished, the hauntings stopped and maybe Emily found peace at last.

Emily’s grave survives to this day and can be found in Blackburn Cemetery.

Reference sources: Chilling True Tales of Old Preston by Keith Johnson; Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected by Simon Entwistle:;;

All photographs courtesy of Google Images.


The Sun Inn Haunting

The village of Chipping on the slopes of the Bowland Fells in the borough of Ribble Valley and bordering Pendle Witch country, is at least a thousand years old and mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chippenden.
Chepyn meaning marketplace.

The Bowland Fells Overlooking Chipping.

The Vale of Chipping.

The Sun Inn.

The Sun Inn, 2 Windy Street, Chipping is a 18th century public house and Grade 11 listed building.

Lizzie Dean.

In the autumn of 1835, Elizabeth Dean, twenty years old arrived in the village and took employment as a scullery maid at The Sun Inn and worked with another maid named Elsie Trainer. Very soon Lizzie, as she was known, met James Freeman, a local lad and after a short period of courting he proposed and Lizzie excited and happy immediately accepted. They met the vicar at Saint Bartholomew’s Church and arranged a date to get married.

St Bartholomew’s Church, Chipping.

Two days before the wedding, James told Lizzie he had fallen in love with Elsie and called off their wedding day.
She was heartbroken but continued to work at the inn with Elsie, who had since accepted a marriage proposal from James Freeman.

The Wedding Day.

On the day of the wedding Lizzie made her way to a first floor room of The Sun Inn and as the church bells rang celebrating the holy matrimony of Mr and Mrs Freeman, Lizzie with a rope around her neck and tied to a bedstead, jumped from the open window.

The Sun Inn Looking onto St Bartholomew’s Church.

Screams caught everyones attention as Lizzie hung from the attic window and the mood turned from celebration to horror and disbelief. When she was cut down a note was found clenched in her right hand and read; ‘ I wish to be buried at the entrance to St Bartholomew’s, so my lover and my best friend will have to walk past my grave every time they go to church’.
Lizzie got her wish and to this day her grave is near to the church entrance, under a giant yew tree.

St Bartholomew’s Church Yard.

James and Elsie moved from the village soon after, settling in Carlisle and never returned to Chipping.

The Ghost Of Lizzie Dean.

For nearly two hundred years the ghost of Lizzie Dean has been seen and reported countless times at The Sun Inn by customers and staff. The hauntings have been featured on numerous TV and radio programmes including Paranormal TV

The Haunted Ancient Yew Tree.

There are six ancient yews in the graveyard, all hundreds of years old, but one in particular, the largest and oldest of the six, under which Lizzie Dean’s grave is to be found, is also said to be haunted by Lizzie. She has been seen to walk from The Sun Inn through the yew tree to her final resting place.

The Ancient Yew Tree In the Graveyard.

The Sun Inn has a lounge called ‘Lizzie’s Lounge’ and many still visit Elizabeth Dean’s  grave near the church entrance.

Chipping, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a multi-award winning village in Best Kept Village, Britain in Bloom and RHS Tourism and Gold Achievements.

Reference source: Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected by Simon Entwistle and Wikipedia.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.



The Haunting of Whalley Abbey

The Abbey.

Aeriel View of the Ruins of Whalley Abbey.

The ruins of Whalley Abbey, close to the banks of the River Calder, in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire are a Grade 1 listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  The site of the abbey was first consecrated in 1306 and the church was completed in 1380, but the remainder of the abbey was not completed until 1440.

King Henry V111.

For over a 100 years the chanting of the Cistercian monks echoed throughout the cloisters, but they were silenced in 1537 when Henry V111 seized the land and destroyed the abbey. This was part of the King’s Dissolution of Monasteries after he declared himself Head of the Church, dismantling Catholic abbeys, monasteries and friaries then appropriating their land and income.

Present Day ruins of the Abbey.

Anyone who did not recognise Henry as head of the new church were arrested and executed.

Engraving from 1564 Showing the Execution of Two Monks Who Refused To Swear The Oath of Allegiance.

John Paslew.

One priest who refused to bow to the King’s demands was John Paslew the Abbot of Whalley. He was born in the nearby village of Wiswell and had been in charge of the abbey for thirty years.

Gatehouse to Whalley Abbey.

John Paslew maintained his refusal to take the King’s Oath of Allegiance. He was arrested and held in Lancaster Castle and on the 9th March 1537 was found guilty of high treason. The next day the abbot was hung, drawn and quartered on Gallows Hill, near the castle.

The Last Days of Whalley Abbey by Charles Cattermole 1882, depicting the arrest of John Paslew.

The medieval torture of hung, drawn and Quartered.

The Ghost of John Paslew.

There is some dispute between historians as to where John Paslew was executed. Some say Lancaster Castle while others claim he was hung at the monastery gates and his remains buried in the abbey churchyard. A gravestone within the church is said to be the abbot’s tomb. Wherever John Paslew was executed, for centuries his ghost has been seen and heard within the ruins of the abbey. Apparitions of a hooded monk, ghostly footsteps and chanting have often been reported.

The Shay Cross.

The Shay Cross or Wiswell Cross, a Grade 11 listed monument is an ancient stone cross with the base dating to the 13th century, situated on Wiswell Lane near to the village of Wissel, the birthplace of John Paslew. The figure of a hooded monk has also  been seen wandering the lane between the Shay Cross and the site of Wiswell Hall (now demolished) the former home of John Paslew.

Reference sources: Lancashire’s Ghosts & Legends by Terence W. Whitaker; Lancashire Magic & Mystery by Kenneth Fields; Facebook Haunted History on 07/12/2014.

All photographs courtesy of Google Images.





The Jigsaw Murders

Buck Ruxton.

Buck Ruxton was born Bukhtyar Rustomji Hakim in Bombay, India on the 21st March 1899. He qualified as a doctor before emigrating to Edinburgh in 1927 where he took a post graduate course in medicine and while in Edinburgh met Isabella Kerr. They moved in together and went on to have three children.

 Number 2, Dalton Square.

In 1930 he set up practice as a GP at 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster and changed his name by deed poll to Buck Ruxton. The couple employed a live in maid, 20 year old Mary Jane Rogerson.
Even though he was a popular local doctor he had a dark temper, was insanely jealous and his relationship with Isabella was prone to violence.
She had already made a complaint of assault to Lancaster police against her common-law-husband. Though the couple never married, Isabella adopted the surname of Ruxton.

No. 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

The Affair Accusation.

On Saturday 14th September 1935, Isabella, who was gregarious and fun-loving, arranged to meet her sisters at Blackpool and visit the illuminations. She did not return home until the early hours and the jealous Ruxton was waiting for her, accusing his common-law-wife of having an affair, which led to a violent argument, witnessed by Mary Jane.

The Murders.

Ruxton strangled Isabella there and then in a fit of jealous rage, and to prevent Mary Jane Rogerson from talking he attacked and strangled her to death.
Using his medical knowledge and expertise, he skilfully dismembered both bodies in the bathtub and wrapped the various body parts in newspapers.

Isabella Kerr.

Mary Jane Rogerson.

The Journey To Scotland.

The doctor was familiar with the Scottish Borders, an area sparsely populated and that night he loaded his car with packages of various body parts and drove to Gardenholme Linn, near Moffat. He knew of a remote ravine in the area, dropping down to a river and in driving wind and rain threw the parcels of his dismembered partner and maid into the gorge, then drove back to Lancaster.

The Journey Back to Lancaster.

As Ruxton was returning home through Kendal he collided with a cyclist, knocking him off his bike and failed to stop. The cyclist made a note of the registration number and reported the accident to the police. Later that night Ruxton was stopped by police in Milnthorpe. He was questioned about the accident, which he denied and told to produce his driving documents at Lancaster Police Station and allowed to continue his journey.

A Grimm Discovery.

On the 29th September, fifteen days after Ruxton’s trip to Scotland, a hill walker found a package containing a human arm on the slopes of the gorge at Gardenholm and contacted the police. All together the police recovered 30 newspaper bundles containing two human heads, a torso, legs and body parts/internal organs. One of the newspapers Ruxton had used was a special edition of the Sunday Graphic and only sold in Lancaster.

It was the lead the Dumfriesshire Constabulary needed in their investigation.

Police search the crime scene.


The remains where taken to the University of Edinburgh and the bodies pieced together in an effort to reconstruct them. They had been mutilated to prevent identification. Fingertips had been cut off and teeth, eyes, ears, skin, lips had been surgically removed.
Using pioneering forensic entomology in studying the stages of growth of maggots found in the remains, a time and date of death for both victims was established.

Ruxton is Questioned.

Mary Rogerson’s family reported her missing and Isabella’s sister’s, concerned with her disappearance, also reported Isabella missing to the police. Ruxton claimed his wife had left him for another man and Mary Jane, who he said was pregnant and had stolen £30 from his safe, had eloped with a local youth.
Scotland Yard detectives where brought into assist the investigation.
Number 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster was searched and enormous traces of blood discovered throughout the house, especially the bathroom. Also the parents of Mary Jane had been asked to identify certain items of clothing found with the human remains and confirmed a blood stained blouse was their daughters.

Ruxton also denied taking a recent trip to Scotland and could not explain why his car registration number had been reported by the cyclist in Kendal or why someone driving his car would provide his own personal details to the police.

The Arrest, Trial.

On the 12th October Ruxton was arrested and charged with the murder of Mary Jane and on 5th November was also charged with the murder of Isabella. He denied both charges.

The trial opened on the 2nd March 1936 at Manchester High Court of Justice.

The trial lasted eleven days and Ruxton was the only witness for his defence. The jury retired and within an hour returned a verdict of ‘Guilty’.


On the 12th May 1936, Ruxton was hanged at HM Prison Manchester.

Police Hold Back a Crowd Outside Strangeway’s Prison on Day of Execution.


The day after Ruxton’s execution, a Sunday newspaper published a handwritten confession by Ruxton, written the day after his arrest and only to be opened in the event of his execution.

The torso of Mary Jane was never found, despite an intensive police search.

Number 2, Dalton Square remained empty and dilapidated for nearly fifty years. As it was a 200 year old listed building, demolition was not an option. Eventually Lancaster City Council purchased the property and after extensive renovations it became their main planning office.

Present Day No. 2, Dalton Square(centre building).

The building has been a subject of various reports of supernatural phenomena while standing empty, including passersby hearing the screams of women coming from within the building.

The bath used by Ruxton to dismember his two victims was removed and produced as evidence at the trial. It is now used a horse trough by the mounted police at Lancashire Police Head Quarters, Hutton, Preston.

Reference sources: wikipedia; article by Simon Entwistle for bbc lancashire history and murderpedia.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

The Haunting of Waddow Hall

Waddow Hall is a 17th century Grade 11 listed building within a 178 acre estate on the banks of the River Ribble, near Clitheroe.

John Starkie.

In 1797 the hall was owned by the textile magnate, John Starkie, where he lived with  his wife and two sons.

Peg O’Nell

While on business at Liverpool docks, John Starkie spotted a seventeen year old woman called Peg O’Nell who had just arrived at the port from County Wicklow. As she was looking for work, Starkie offered her a job at Waddow Hall as a maid.  Later that day, he arrived back at the hall with his new maid, much to his wife’s displeasure.

The Abduction.

Within a few days, the suspicious Mrs Starkie caught her husband in bed with Peg O’Nell in the servants quarters. He begged forgiveness, but the mistress of the house wanted revenge.
Later that night, Mrs Starkie with the assistance of the head butler, John Vickery, dragged a screaming Peg from her bed, gagged her and binding her hands and feet, carried her outside to the riverbank, put her in a boat and Vickery rowed into the middle of the Ribble.

The Curse.

A heavy chain was wrapped around her legs and the gag was removed from a terrified Peg and as she was pushed overboard shouted, “I will haunt you for the rest of your lives” before the chain quickly dragged her to the river bed.

Peg O’Nell’s Well.

There is an ancient well in the grounds of the hall, near to the river which has been the location for many of the sightings of Peg’s ghost and for over a 100 years known as Peg O’Nell’s Well or Peg’s Well.

Near to the well is a statue of St Margaret with its head missing. Mrs Starkie, a few days after Peg’s murder, in a confused state, believed the statue was a visitation of Peg and ordered Vickery remove the head, which he did with a hammer and chisel, tossing the head into the river.  The ancient statue is still known as ‘Peg’s Statue’.

The Hauntings.

Since the night of the murder, Peg’s ghost has haunted Waddow Hall and grounds, with many staff reporting seeing her, particularly Vickery especially in the few days after her death, who on two occasions said he heard Peg’s curse echo through the hall.
Peg’s presence became so frightening, he resigned from his employment, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. The guilt ridden Mrs Starkie left with him, deserting her unfaithful husband and abandoning her two sons.  A few days later together they boarded The Boundary Star sailing ship  from Liverpool to St Kitts, where the wealthy Mrs Starkie owned property and investments. As the ship passed County Wicklow it floundered in a great Atlantic storm and capsized, with no survivors. The bodies of Mrs Starkie or John Vickery where never recovered.

Unexplained phenomena has been happening at Waddow Hall for hundreds of years, with many reports coming from local residents and tourists visiting the historic hall.

In November 2004 an edition of the television series Most Haunted, with paranormal investigators Yvette Fielding and Derek Acora was broadcast from Waddow Hall.

Present Day Waddow Hall.

Since 1927 the hall has been managed by Girlguiding (Girl Guides) and is now recognised as an award winning tourist facility providing five fully equipped campsites, a tented village, top class self catering indoor/outdoor accommodation, conference facilities and numerous outdoor activities.

Girlguiding is the operating name of The Guide Association previously named The Girl Guides Association .

In nearly a hundred years since 1927, thousands of girl guides from all around the world have enjoyed camping at Waddow Hall and probably unaware of the ghost of Peg O’Nell watching them.

Reference sources: Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected by Simon Entwistle; and wikipedia.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

St. Patrick and Lancashire

St. Patrick Lands At Heysham.

St Patrick was a fifth-century Christian missionary who later became known as the Apostle of Ireland.

St Patrick was thought to have been born around 380AD to a Christian Roman-British family, during the final years of the Roman occupation of Britain.

At the age of sixteen St Patrick was kidnapped by Picts and sold to an Irish Chief who kept him as a slave for six years in Ireland, until he escaped and fled to the coast. He managed to board a ship for Scotland, which, according to legend, was shipwrecked near to the Heysham headland at a place known today as St Patrick’s Skeer. This is a long narrow strip of rough ground, with deep water on each side, and only visible at Low Water Spring Tides, just outside what is now Heysham harbour.

According to local historian John Disney, the shipwreck site is described as a rocky inlet with surrounding trees. The Irish Sea around Heysham 1800 years ago was 14 feet deeper and at low tide, the remains of ancient trees are visible.
Patrick made his way back to his parents home in Scotland, travelling through Cumbria on a journey that took him and his followers 28 days.

It seems to be accepted by some historians that St Patrick did arrive at Heysham on his escape from Ireland.

Historically, St Patrick’s Day was a public holiday in Heysham and the area still has many references to the patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick eventually returned to Ireland as a missionary and was made a bishop and Primate of All Ireland by Pope Innocent 1.

St Patrick’s Day occurs annually on 17th March in observance of the death of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Contemporary drawing of the Port of Heysham.

St. Patrick’s Chapel.

On the only sea cliffs between North Wales and the Cumbria coast are the remains of an ancient chapel and possibly the birthplace of Christianity in Lancashire.

The Anglo Saxon chapel is a ruined building that stands above the site of ancient stone coffins overlooking Heysham Sands. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of the oldest religious buildings in the north of England.

The ruins of the present chapel date two centuries later. Beneath the ruined chapel’s stonework are foundations of an earlier Celtic style chapel of the 5th or 6th century.

It is believed that the existing chapel was built by monks from Ireland as missionaries of St Patrick, to commemorate his return to England.

The chapel is owned by the National Trust.

Ancient Stone Coffins.

With dramatic views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Mountains are a row of six stone coffins hewn out of solid rock on the Heysham headland beside St. Patrick’s Chapel. In 1977 Lancaster University carried out a detailed examination and excavation of the surrounding site and 80 full skeletons were found buried near to the chapel, dating to the late sixth or early seventh century. The bones were re-buried in the churchyard.

In 1993 a further excavation was carried out on land below the stone coffins. No human remains were found but more than 12,000 artefacts were discovered, including medieval pottery and stone carvings, which revealed that the site had been occupied 12,000 thousand years ago.

The stone coffins certainly pre-date the Norman Conquest (1066AD) and are believed to be Viking in origin.

Each tomb is hollowed out in the shape of a human body with a groove to take a stone lid and a square socket to take a cross or headstone. Because of their small size it is unlikely adults where buried here, but it is believed they were repositories for human remains or the burial places for children.

There are two further rock-cut tombs a short distance away.

Black Sabbath.

The Best of Black Sabbath, a compilation album released in 2000 features the stone coffins on their album cover.

Reference source: North West Scenes (blog dated 28/05/09 unknown writer), http://www.sandhak (history of heysham blog) & wikipedia.

This blog first posted 22 January 2018.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.


A Hellhound is demonic guard dog, protecting the entryways to the afterlife, especially the gates of hell or to search for those whose death is imminent and their soul promised to Lucifer.


Hellhounds have a long history in folklore from around the world, recorded as a companion of pagan gods and in old Norse mythology the Vikings called it the ‘Wolf from Hell’.

A 1764 engraving of The Beast of Gevaudan, France, a supernatural dog which attacked and killed women and children.


In Greek mythology Cerberus, the most famous of all hellhounds, is the monstrous watchdog of the underworld, with three heads and a serpents tail. The creature devoured anyone attempting to escape the Kingdom of Hades, the ruler of the underworld.

Dante confronting Cerberus in his epic 14th C poem, Dante’s Inferno. Engraving by Gustave Dore.

Hercules and Cerberus, oil on canvas by Rubens, 1636.

Identifying A Hellhound.

These phantom canines are highly intelligent, voracious hunters of considerable size. A small hellhound is about the same size as a mastiff, while a large one can dwarf a horse or a brown bear. Their coat is always black and mangled, they have glowing red eyes and possess super strength and speed. The presence of a hellhound is proceeded by a foul stench of sulphur, recognised as the stench of death.

Where To Find A Hellhound.

They are usually invisible to humans, but will appear to the person whose death they are stalking and whose soul has been promised to the Devil. Their main purpose is to protect the entrance to the underworld but can be found hunting for lost souls in graveyards.

Hellhounds in Lancashire.

Tales concerning these black dogs or hellhounds are told all over Lancashire: at Clitheroe, Droylesden, Singleton near Blackpool, Ratcliffe Tower, Levens Hall, Bispham Hall and numerous over locations including the Longridge Fells. Locals talk of malevolent ghost hounds which prowl the moors at night, like the large black dog that haunts Old Hall at Clitheroe, known as ‘Old Trash’.

Formby foreshore (now Merseyside) near Southport is the haunt of a giant black, spectral hound with luminous eyes the sight of which is said to bring death or severe misfortune to the beholder.
Nelson has a similar spectre, with a similar legend behind it.
One of the best known local hellhound legends is of a huge black shaggy dog that haunts the area around Burnley Parish Church. It is known as ‘Old Skryker’ or ‘Trash’, from the noise it makes while walking, “like old shoes on a miry road” and the beast will shriek to announce it presence with flames coming from its mouth.

In the North of England, a hellhound or black dog is often referred to as a Barghest, Gytrash or Padfoot and is commonly commemorated on many inn signs, particularly in Lancashire.

Hellhounds in Literature.

In Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre, the title character is reminded of a Gytrash when she first sees Mr. Rochester’s black horse.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s  1902 novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles tells of a huge ferocious dog that roams Dartmoor.
That area has its own legend of a hellhound called a Yeth Hound or Yell Hound.

The Omen written by David Seltzer in 1976, features a pack of deadly Rottweiler dogs guarding a cemetery.

There are numerous other references to hellhounds in literature, films, television and computer games.

For over three thousand years legends of a supernatural black dog or hellhound has existed in different cultures throughout the world. There are striking similarities, its great size, red eyes, black fur, ferocity and always a harbinger of death and there are still reports to this day of the presence of a hellhound. But strange as it is, the north of England has more tales and legends of a ferocious supernatural black dog than anywhere else.

There are many unexplained phenomena in the supernatural world that surrounds us and the legends of the ‘hounds of hell’ have been part of our heritage, especially for northerners, for centuries.

Reference sources: Lancashire’s Ghosts & Legends by Terence Whitaker, Lancashire Magic & Mystery by Kenneth Fields, wikipedia,

All photos courtesy of Google Images.