There are two Ashton Hall’s in Lancaster. The first is part of the council complex of Dalton Square near the Buck Ruxton murder site and the second is currently the headquarters of the Lancaster Golf Club.
Ashton Hall, now used by the Golf Club, was originally built by Roger of Poitou in the Barony of Lancaster. Only the tower at the south wing remains of this original building which enjoys a fantastic view of the estuary of the River Lune and Morecambe Bay.
The main hall was built by Edmund Lawrence. The Lawrence family-controlled Aston Hall for the best part of two hundred years. Records show that John and Alice Lawrence were tenants in 1323 and also that William de Lancaster I granted a portion of land to Gilbert during the reign of Henry II (1154 to 1189).
The old hall has seen an eventful past. At one point the manor was held by John de Coupland who captured David, King of Scots, at the battle of Nevill’s Cross in 1436. King James I, of England, and Charles II have both stayed in Aston Hall.
There are a number of reports of spirits in Ashton Hall. The most common story is a white lady who was locked away in one of the hall’s towers while her lord husband fought abroad. When the husband returned to the Hall she was found starved to death.
In 1788 the wife of the 9th Duke died and his sorrow was so great that he ordered the doors to Ashton Hall closed. They did not open again until 1819 when he died and was taken through to them the ancient Parish and Priory Church of Lancaster were he was buried beside her. Paranormal experts point out that grief on this magnitude can sometimes create a haunting manifestation.
Indeed, the wife of the 4th Duke of Hamilton, the lord who died in the duel against Lord Mohun and General Macartney was said to be so upset that she spent most of her remaining 32 years at Ashton Hall, in a bedroom in the south wing. The room is known as “The Duchess’s Bedroom” to this day.
It is also noticeable that Ashton Hall has an unusually high ratio of female descent – ownership of the estate has passed over the female line far more frequently than other comparable buildings.
Roman remains have also been found on the site. Some of the artefacts discovered nearby have included an altar inscribed with blessings to a Goddess of Plenty. This may have been Ops – a mother-goddess who also governed fertility and the harvest. She is celebrated in the festival of Opiconsivia on August 25th and Opalia on December 19th. Is there a connection between this nearby goddess and Ashton Hall’s strong line of female descent?
In Pure Spirit
Have you attended any of the events held in Ashton Hall? What was it like? Do you have any additional stories of murder at Aston Hall, death, ghosts, spirits or dark mists? Perhaps you have heard an alternative version of the Ashton Hall white lady legend?