Waddow Hall is a 17th century Grade 11 listed building within a 178 acre estate on the banks of the River Ribble, near Clitheroe.
In 1797 the hall was owned by the textile magnate, John Starkie, where he lived with his wife and two sons.
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.
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.
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’.
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; girlguidingactivitycentres.org and wikipedia.
All photos courtesy of Google Images.