Is Rothwell haunted by the Quaker dead?

With Halloween approaching, it seemed a great time to revisit one of our first stories after our re-launch earlier this year. Following our ‘Haunted Rothwell’ feature, we received comments and emails from people reporting similar ghostly experiences.

 

These experiences seem to be all around the Oulton area near St Johns Church, The Three Horse Shoes Pub and the Rothwell Leisure Centre. After some research it appears this area was a quaker burial ground. Back in the early 18th century, the ‘Five Mile Act’ made it a crime to attend a dissenting place of worship and made whoever did so liable to seven years’ transportation overseas. Because of this a collection of Quakers – John North, John Scott, Peter Thompson and Jonathan Lupton purchased for five shillings a portion of enclosed ground in Oulton, called the Dam Close in 1721. The area of land bought was for one purpose – a Quaker burial ground.

The area today is the Oulton Lane and enclosed within Oulton Park. Entrance to the site was through a wooden door set in the boundary wall. There were no gravestones, the site being marked by five trees. The ground was low lying and tended to flood in the winter time.

It is said that the re-alignment of Oulto
Lane, when the roundabout was made on the A639 at the junction with Calverley Road, disturbed the sacred burial ground and prompted some ghostly goings on…

Here are a few ghostly reports from that very area:

When visiting a relative who lived close to the Three Horse Shoes pub:

To get to the kitchen you walked through the living room and when I arrived I went through to the kitchen to see if my sister was in there, there was a bloke sat in the living room who I didn’t know but regardless I said hello and assumed it was a visitor. I heard my sister in the kitchen so went through. I asked who the man was and my sister said there wasn’t anyone else in the house, we both went back to the living room and there was nobody there…

 

As young kids, we spent many hours playing in Oulton church yard “like ya do” and I was never told off by any of the many Vicars whom have been responsible for t
is lovely church. Probably because my father was extremely well known in the locality after moving there many many years ago.

I was once in the back plantation of the church (which coincidently is next to where my father is now buried) with a friend (who’s name I will not mention) playing with our air rifles shooting old drinks cans “yes I did say air rifles” which we were told by the vicar we could do as long as we promised specifically NOT to shoot any Squirrels in the grounds. Something I promised and stuck to.

Well one day we set up various old drinks cans up for target practice, Coke / Lilt / One Cal etc., when I noticed a man walking up the back of the plantation towards us. We were mostly hidden by the old bushes that the plantation was full of at that time, so we both laid our air rifles on the floor (which was covered in leaves as I remember, so I imagine it was around mid-Autumn) and then we both laid down too so as to not be discovered.
The man walked past us, apparently without noticing we were there, and from my limited viewing angle I saw him go down on to one knee and start digging around on the floor using only his bare hands in what looked like an attempt to find something that was buried. After observing him for maybe just under a minute he rose to his feet and I noticed something under his arm that he had clearly retrieved but I couldn’t make out.

The man turned and started to walk quickly back the way he had come!

My friend had the most perplexed look on his face as he turned to me and asked quietly (as the man was still in view) what we had just seen!.. ‘ It beats me’ I said but, ‘there is only one way to find out!!’

Now what comes next may sound peculiar to some folks and I fully understand that, but this is exactly what happened!

I told my friend we should chase him and find out what he had under his arm. I felt absolutely positive that both the vicar and more importantly my father would back me 100% if we could apprehend this man, as even though we couldn’t fathom what he was doing, he was clearly up to no good.

We both took comfort in the fact we were given permission to be there so left our rifles under the bush where we were and set of in pursuit of him with every intention of grabbing this guy.

He only had a small head start on us and to my s
rprise he was already at the edge of the church yard heading to the roundabout. At full sprint we ran, without looking, onto the roundabout with this man fully in our sight (at about 10 – 12 meters in front of us) as he passed the old black railing on what was once the vicarage heading onto Calverley Road.

At this point my friend was 5 meters behind me as he’d had the good sense to pause before running into Calverley Road, and the man I was pursuing was less than that in front of me as we headed at full speed round the corner of the above mentioned railings.

As I ran around the corner at full tilt my arms were outstretched to physically stop this man, I looked up for the final grab and he was gone!

And when I say gone I mean GONE!

I was now on Calverley Road and slowing down from my sprint to nearly a complete stop and looked around and he was nowhere to be seen… there was nowhere he could have hidden so quickly.

My friend arrived at the scene not two seconds behind me (obviously expecting me and this man to be rolling around on the floor fighting) and when he looked around too there was an unmistakable look of horror on his face as he’d seen me run right up to this guy.

I searched behind the old doctor’s house, up the
bakery path with a real sense that this guy had disappeared while being literally at the tip of my fingers.

Realising we were now completely out of our depth we returned at speed to retrieve our air rifles in the upper church and get the hell out of there!

As I put my rifle back in its bag looked over to see what I can only describe as a Doughnut shaped excavation of the leaves on the ground (about 2.5ft wide)where this man had knelt down but, only the leaves were moved. There was no any actual sign of digging the earth, so God only knows what was under his arm…

Three things that really stick in my mind about this encounter, even now after all these year are:

1, This man moved at high speed (running pace) while appearing to only be walking (A very strange thing to see and describe). He did not quicken his pace on hearing us, infact, I would say he was oblivious to us!

2, He evaded me even when I was running at full speed.. when he was not only in my immediate field of vision – but actually within only 5 feet of me.

3, Why the hell did he scrape the leaves away on the floor and what did he have under his arm?

4. Where did he disappear to so instantly?

 

I was walking up St John’s Street back in 1990 I believe around 4am.  To my surprise I saw a figure walk over the dual carriageway from Oulto
n church heading in my direction. I took shelter in and old friend’s garden on St John’s street and waited for this person to pass.

The figure moved to his right and stood with his back to the old communal walled off area where we all remember the old Lions meeting being held (Showing my age there). He was in the region of 6ft 3in in height and dressed in black with a distinctive tall black top hat.

Now I was no stranger to the police in my younger days at around this particular time so, thinking I would get the inevitable roasting from our local police officer in Rothwell I stood still waiting for him to go on his way.

The man stood there for at least 20 minutes or so and I must confess to being very impatient for him to leave as I was feeling rather cold as it was in winter. The figure took half a dozen steps forward and then turned and headed back over the dual carriageway although not in the same direction it had come from.

I moved very quickly to get back in the house before it was discovered I was not in bed – where I was supposed to be – and watched the figure turn diagonally from my position and walk straight through a stone wall heading not into the churchyard, but strangely through the old stone wall diagonally onto what is now the golf course.

Strange!! Not only because I’d seen what to my mind simply wasn’t possible, but also because in hindsight one would imagine something like that going into a graveyard as opposed to a golf course?!

Could this figure of been a Quaker? The clothing and hat are undeniably on point!

 

At about 11.15pm on a Saturday night in July 1975 a girlfriend and I had been in the Coach and Horses in Rothwell (only had a pint and ‘alf) and were walking back to Oulton. As we crossed the field in Rothwell Park between Oulton Hall and the old “Edvs Taylor” house near the roundabout we saw two figures stood in the field about fifteen yards away. It was a very warm clear night and we could see them as clear as day. Both were dressed as Quakers and one was a man stood behind a woman with his hands on her shoulders. We stood looking at each other for about five to ten seconds (us and the figures) when they suddenly weren’t there. They neither faded away nor vanished in an instant, they just weren’t there any more. Both of us saw them clearly and it frightened us to death.

Have you ever seen anything strange around this area? If so, drop us a line or leave a comment in the section below…

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