In Durham, England there is a a stunning medieval banquet hall with 4 acres of lavish gardens where weddings and revelers congregate. But in those cold stone corners whispers of those long dead linger. After much scrounging on the internet, I bring you the legends, reported experiences, and ghosts that lurk with the stony depths of Crook Hall.
First off, thank you to Mark Nixon for recommending that I look into Crook Hall. It was a ton of fun to research, and I totally get why you had your wedding there. It is beautiful, and interesting, and I hope you caught some “extra guests” lurking in your wedding photos. That would be so cool!!
Crook Hall has been home to many centuries of humans. Here’s the essentials:
- Originally built in 1286 on the lands of Sydgate Manor
- It was named after it’s early 14th century owner Peter De Croke
- or possibly because it was built near the “crook” of a nearby river
- The oldest parts of the building is from Croke’s construction during the early 1300s
- the Medieval hall
- the screens passageway
- After Croke, the hall became home to the Billingham family for about 300 years
- 1657 it passed to the Mickletons
- 1736 it passed to the Hoppers of Shincliffe
- It wandered from owner to owner steadily decaying until the Cassels purchased it in 1928 and fixed the old girl back up
For a more detailed architectural history check out this article in the Durham Times.
There are numerous sightings reported throughout the hall, but here are some of the main/recurring tales.
The person-sized walled in nook (seen on the Left) is one of the paranormal hot-spots for the hall. (Or maybe “cold-spots would be more accurate, hehe) This nook is located in the corner of of the medieval hall.
The story goes that a medieval soldier was brutally murdered there in a fight over a woman. People report feeling chills or cold breezes coming from the nook these days.
The medieval hall is apparently a center for activity. However, it is the ghost of a woman all dressed in white who is considered to be the culprit. And she is often seen or heard drifting around the building.
In one peculiar tale, a banquet had been prepared and laid out on tables in [the medieval hall], but as the guests moved into the screen passage they are supposed to have heard a soft rustling sound from the room. This was immediately followed by a loud crash which was, as they found out when they looked in the room, the resultant noise of the tables and dishes having been upturned onto the floor. The ghost of the white lady was blamed. [ghosts.org]
There is also and ancient wooden staircase, (seen to the right) that the Woman in white has been see. She’s seen running up and down them, or silently gliding, or heard rushing up the stairs and through the walled in top. The closer to Christmas it is, the more solid her form.
According to an article on ghosts.org the owners John and Mary Hawgwood (1991) shared some of their thoughts on the matter. Mary Hagwood was convinced that the woman in white was the spirit of Cuthbert Billingham’s niece.
Here’s a link to an excerpt from the book Ghosts at Christmas by Darren Ritson that talks about this theory and more of the Hagwoods experiences: Google Books excerpt
There seem to be even more paranormal experiences happening in the hall all the time. Here’s an excerpt from a post by Maggie Bell on This is Durham:
Many visitors have also had strange experiences at Crook Hall – including one who saw children playing on the gallery an hour after the last child had left the premises. Another visitor rang from the coach he was travelling home on to report that he had seen an old man in bedclothes asleep in a chair before he left. Other people on his coach had also seen the man.
The video I’ve posted below had some of the most informative pictures, although the music in it is a bit on the quaint side. You should totally mute it, and listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlTRcMowLkc while watching.
[Lol, reading my blog is like a digital scavenger hunt. It’s ok. Some day I’ll travel all over the world and bring you guys sexily produced tour videos of the creepiest places. For now, I’m land locked in the US.]
At the 0:34 second mark you’ll see the medieval hall where the haunted nook is located. It kind of looks like there’s a face in there, doesn’t it?
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