Little Zs first ever school trip was to an indoor ski place where they had a tonne of fun in fake snow whilst playing with reindeers and various slides. Ever since then, I kept reminiscing the first ever school trip I went on. Times were very different then and we got taken to a famous local stately home which was steeped in history, religious conflict and ghosts. I’m pretty sure the national curriculum wasn’t about in those days. It’s called Smithills Hall and has stood in Bolton since the 14th century.
This week I took a trip to see it again. It’s still there in all its glory and is free to visit. It belonged to the Radcliffe family and has changed many hands over the centuries. Brand new apartments have been built not too far away and there is now a farm nearby to entertain little ones. The main house is still very beautiful and worth seeing if you happen to be in the area. It shows how characteristics of Tudor times. I remember well the teachers telling how they coated the walls with daub, the white plaster like substance you see on Tudor homes and how we all lived on a hill that was famous for daub collecting. If you know Bolton, you’ll know exactly what area that is.
Smithills Hall is said to be haunted by many ghosts, one of which is called George Marsh, a devout Protestant that was put on trial for his teachings in Bolton during the reign of Queen Mary, a Catholic. As he was led away from the Great Hall in the house, he stamped his foot angrily on a flagstone which left a footprint. That footprint is still there today and can be seen under glass. He was put on trial and eventually found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake. He now roams the house and I remember them telling us how George even leaned over to look at someone in bed once, at the man who sent him to his trial. I’m not sure if that actually happened or the guide was just trying to tell a bunch of kids a spooky tale. I did go home scared witless though! Some have said to feel chills through the house. I didn’t really feel anything… thankfully, but it’s not somewhere I’d particularly like to spend the night. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it’s a lovely place to step back in time and discover a bit of rich Lancashire history.