Sunday, July 12, 2020

Parlington Hall :: Apparitions and Ghosts

If you were exploring Parlington Woods in the early 1950's and out of the gloom you were confronted with the desolate scene above, you might be forgiven for imagining that there was more to the place than simply an abandoned old building. After sunset things take on a different character, there are endless noises from within the woods, the occasional screech from an owl can cause the heart to miss a beat, the sudden flutter of a bird startled in the tree tops sends a shiver down your spine. But worse it is incredibly dark, that is to those used to living in the town or city. In recent years the new M1 which is about ¾ of a mile away as the crow flies, has provided a background hum from the endless stream of traffic, heading north or south, this provides comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone, but if the wind is from the west, the traffic noise is absent and then it can be both inky dark and eerily quiet. Then you hope you are alone!

There are a number of tales of ghosts and unexplained events, however no manifestations have ever been witnessed by me, so I merely relate some of them for the record. There are a number of tragic events that have occured over the generations which may be the basis for ghostly occurrences. They are listed latest first.

Peter Hills Death: 1879

The poacher incident[1] which saw the savage beating of assistant gamekeeper Peter Hills, such that he died five days later in Leeds General Infirmary may be a candidate for a haunting, but the actual location of the attack is not known, only that it was on the estate.

Edward Cotton Death: 1870

The sad story of Edward Cotton, a farm labourer, who whilst assisting with a shooting party was unfortunately despatched by Colonel Gascoigne.

[An extract, believed to be from the Leeds Mercury or
Leeds Intelligencer, kindly provided by Mr R Sudderdean of the
Garforth Historical Society. States as follows] June 18th 1870,
a gardener's labourer, named Edward Cotton, while acting as a
marker at a private rifle range at Parlington Park, near Leeds,
was accidently shot by Lieutenant Colonel Gascoigne. The marker
had left the rifle butt whilst firing was proceeding and without
receiving any signal. The ball passed through his body and
killed him on the spot.

So Edward Cotton would have just cause to revisit the place of his demise, the location being the former Deer Park. Colonel Gascoigne for his part is recorded as being much troubled in his later years by the unfortunate accident. The old Colonel died almost to the day 25 years later 22nd June 1905.

The Sons of Richard Oliver Gascoigne Deaths: 1842

Richard Oliver [Gascoigne] inherited a lifetime interest in the Gascoigne estates following the death of Sir Thomas Gascoigne in 1810, he had four children, two sons and two daughters, both his sons [Thomas b: 3/06/1806 d: 24/04/1842 & Richard b: 1/01/1808 d: 25/12/1842] died within a few months of each other the year before Richard Oliver Gascoigne himself perished in April 1843. Could they be the spirits which haunt the remains of the old hall.

Tom Gascoigne Death: 1809

The next and most obvious candidate for haunting Parlington, is Tom Gascoigne whose untimely death occured in October 1809, with a future secure in the landed establishment, he threw it all away in a frivolous riding escapade whilst hunting near Retford. He was unseated as he jumped a fence and dashed his back against a tree, almost severing his spinal column, he died later that day on Friday 13th October 1809. [See Notes]

The demise of young Tom Gascoigne, was believed to be instrumental in bringing about the early death of his father Sir Thomas Gascoigne, it was suggested he died of a broken heart following the tragic death of his son some four months earlier.

The Incidents

The Guest Room

The first recorded unexplained incident took place in the December of 2003 when a guest sitting in the guest lounge on the first floor of the West Wing saw a light. She described it as a ball[2] [of light, I believe] rise through the floor and upwards to the ceiling! No explanation has been attributed to this event.

Two more similar incidents have been noted in the same room.

The Still Room

The Still Room is at the eastern end of the west wing which is part of the oldest section of the hall, possibly dating to the seventeenth century or earlier, from time to time the room becomes uncomfortably cold and then reverts back to its normal state, recent modifications, with the addition of a wood burning stove, uncovered a cast iron fire backplate with an unidentified motif. Since the alterations no sudden cold occurances have been observed.

The Man in the Broad Brimmed Hat

This tale was re-counted by a resident of Garforth. Two school children in the 1950's ventured to the Hall and were confronted by a man in a broad brimmed hat and old fashioned clothing, he was standing in the Drawing Room, [the floors had gone by this time], the boys left rather quicker than they had arrived.

The Stairway

Another old resident of Garforth who was in the audience at a recent talk about the old hall, re-counted that he an a friend some time after the Second World War but before 1950, climbed over the estate wall to visit the remains of the Hall and ventured up a large curving staircase towards the first floor, on arriving at the top they sighted someone but before they could react, it was gone. But where the staircase led knowhere!


We all remember unusual incidents from when we were young, small children often tell of strange incidents. More so if you are venturing to a secret place where you should not be and could be found by the Gamekeeper! As to the guest who was alarmed by the rising ball, I wonder whether the heavy meal earlier in the day had something to do with it! Also no evidence was left by the strange visitor, not even a mark on the carpet!

The sudden cold, well that's the English weather for you! But on a dark night, it is very creepy in the woods!


Peter Hills died May 12th 1879Peter Hills,[1] is remembered due to his untimely death at the hands of poachers, in the spring of 1879. He was beaten unconscious by a gang of poachers as he and two other keepers attempted to apprehend the offenders on the Parlington Estate. Mr Walter Brown the house surgeon at the Leeds Infirmary stated in evidence at the later court case that he [Peter Hills] had a wound on the forehead that went to the bone. He was conscious for five days and then became delirious, dying early in the morning of the 12th May. A blow from a loaded stick or the butt end of a gun would be likely to cause the wound.
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Tom Gascoigne killed October, Friday 13th 1809Thomas Charles Gascoigne, born 7th January 1786, suffered a fatal accident whilst hunting and died at Wallingwells, Notts., the residence of Sir Thomas Woollaston White, on Friday 13th October 1809 [London Times View Copy] or on 20th October 1809 [Coleman's], aged 23. He was buried at Barwick in Elmet, 28th October, when as stated in a contemporary broadsheet, over two thousand persons were present and above four hundred of his father's tenants.

External References

The full account of the tragic poacher incident is recorded on the Barwick in Elmet Historical site the link to the article is here »

[2]The strange ball that went through the floor and then upwards through the ceiling, this explanation on Wikipedia
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