Chingle Hall or manor, dating back to around 1260 A.D.
The hall in ancient times was surrounded by a moat, complete with drawbridge. Today, the drawbridge has been replaced with a cobblestone bridge which leads to the front door. And the moat has been filled in and is now a walkway around the building.
|Oh that massive door! Made of metal-studded oak, the main door appears to be the original door placed there by Adam de Single when he built the hall around 1260. The great knocker, in the shape of a "Y" still adorns the front door.
The enclosed porch still has a tiny window where a light was placed in Penal times (when Catholicism was banned) to indicate that a Roman Catholic mass was to be celebrated.
And this is where our story begins. Early in the fifteenth century, the Catholic Church was already in decline. The Bishops and other notables of the church ostentatiously displayed their wealth, while the local parish priests were poverty-stricken and poorly educated just as their parishioners. Against this backdrop, King Henry VIII, in 1535, appointed himself head of the Church of England and made his final break with Rome.
Henry ordered the Bible to be translated and printed in English. A little later, an English prayer book replaced the Latin Mass Book. Other reforms appeared within the churches and religious houses throughout England.
Not all of Henry’s subjects supported the break with the Mother Church. Among these were some of the Singletons of Lancashire. Many of the Singletons were imprisoned and fined during the 1500s and the 1600s because they refused to forsake the Catholic religion.
In the floor of an alcove, rumored to have been a private chapel originally, there was discovered a small hiding hole, measuring 3 feet by 2 feet by 30 inches deep – just about the right size to hold religious vestments and articles. Underneath layers of plaster in the wall of that same alcove a wooden cross and a small shelf were also discovered.
Chingle Hall was sold during the 1600s to a Wall family, eventually passing into the hands of a franciscan priest by the name of John Wall. John refused to denounce the Catholic Church and was eventually beheaded on the gallows at Worcester in 1679. Several Singletons were martyred during the 1600s as well as some of the priests that they harbored at Chingle Hall and other manor houses owned or controlled by the family.
Ghosts abound in Chingle Hall and other former Singleton family holdings. A ghostly priest appeared many times in Broughton Tower, before it was torn down around 1800. Another ghost in Chingle Hall has been known to tap on walls and furniture. Flowers on the dining table have been seen by guests to move, as if an unseen hand were shaking each flower individually.
John Wall still roams Chingle Hall. Many people have seen the brown-clad monk in the small apartment over the steps. Even more have heard the ghostly footsteps as he crosses the stone bridge, enters the house and ascends to his apartment.
|The hall has passed through various owners until the present. At one time, in the 1950s, the mother of the owner (a Howarth family) came for a visit. Mr. & Mrs. Howarth gave their bedroom to his mother and they moved into the the "haunted" room over the stairs.
Every night, they would latch the door to the apartment. Shortly after they laid down, the latch would be raised and the door would open to reveal ... nothing.
One particular night, the latch raised and the door opened. Mrs. Howarth, the owner's wife, got up and shut the door and re-latched it securely. As soon as she laid down again, the door latch flew up and the door re-opened. Six times the scene was repeated.
The sixth time that the door opened, an illuminated form in a cloak floated into the room. Shocked, Mrs. Howarth could only stare. At last she got up enough nerve to to nudge her husband. The couple couldn't look away from the image. For a very long time they stared at the ghost. After fifteen minutes, as both husband and wife watched, the ghost suddenly grew dimmer and then ... faded away.
If you ever go to the village of Goosnargh, drop in on Chingle Hall. Perhaps at dusk you will see the brown-cloaked figure cross the old bridge, go through the old oaken door, ascend the stairs and open the door to the apartment over the stairs. If you do, say "hello" to old John Wall for me.