HISTORY FEATURE: Haunting stories behind prestigious property.

HISTORY FEATURE: Haunting stories behind prestigious property.

By Bob Westerdale | 19/05/2022

HISTORY FEATURE: Haunting stories behind prestigious property.

 

A renovated hall will prove popular with those looking for a historic property, but Chase reporter Bob Westerdale is spooked.

IT’S destined to become one of the most prestigious addresses in Rotherham — and there is no shortage of potential buyers for homes currently being completed at posh Firbeck Hall.

There is one aspect you won’t find in the brochure promoting the £11 million revamped stately home though...it might be haunted!

The 16th-century country pile, which fell into disrepair for decades, has been a daunting destination for paranormal investigators, one of whom believes he filmed poltergeist activity there.

The most disturbing historical account came from Barbara Beck, a member of the Friends of Firbeck Hall group.

Some of her ancestors used to be associated with the hall, as far back, she believes, as the English Civil War (1642-1651.)

“The legend is that Ralph Knight (her family name was Knight) was murdered (in the Firbeck grounds) because he was in love with the daughter of William West, the first owner of the Hall, during the Civil War period,” she wrote in a blog.

“Apparently her lover was murdered by her brother after a note the girl had written arranging a meeting with her lover was intercepted.

“She was so overcome with grief at seeing her murdered lover that she threw herself into the lake. Her body was recovered the next morning, shrouded in weeds and green slime from the lake — hence The Green Lady.”

Paranormal enthusiast Charlene lowe Kemp also believed The Green Lady had drowned herself when her “Roundhead lover” was put to the sword.

The apparition is said to take a stroll in the grounds to this day — although with 33 acres surrounding the modern-day complex, there is probably plenty of room for her shadowy presence to drift around without bumping into locals.

There was another female life lost there centuries ago, Charlene claims: “The daughter of an estate worker, got herself ‘into trouble’ and, knowing that her family would be thrown out of their home, also drowned herself and has been seen on Kidd Lane bridge. She’s called Annie.

In 2017, a video called The Ghosts of Firbeck Hall, was broadcast by Amazon Prime. It featured paranormal investigator Phil Sinclair, who probed what he calls the “notoriously haunted mansion house”.

He captured: “Some of the best poltergeist activity, ever to be caught on camera.”

Prime also has a separate feature on Firbeck Hall Mansion — A Real Haunting, an investigation by the so-called Ghosts of Britain organisation.

Details of Firbeck Hall’s chequered history came as a bump in the night for Redbrik, the estate agency marketing the elegant development, which will feature 32 units in total, including luxury apartments, barn-style conversions and muse houses.

Emma Liversidge, manager of the New Homes department at Rebrik, doesn’t expect a 370-year old folklore to be any distraction to modern-day home hunters, though.

When the Advertiser recounted details of The Green Lady legend, she replied: “Oh my God, that’s a morbid one.

“I have not heard that one, even if I had I am not sure I could put that in the brochure!”

She said a spot of colourful — if debatable — history might even appeal to some on the property market.

“We’ve heard lots of stories about the house certainly but we haven’t seen any ghosts as of yet, and I am touching wood now!”

Emma said visitors have been able to stroll around the development in the last three weeks and three of the apartments had already been sold. There is pending interest in other units.

“The developers are making a lovely job of it, it is a labour of love for them,” she said.

Prices range from £275,000 (one bed apartment) to £800,000 and the new residents are expected to start moving in by the end of August.

The final construction phase will be next year with the arrival of eight new builds.

Emma said an original plan to make the hall a type of retirement complex for over 55s, with a gym, pool and cafe had been declined by Rotherham Council.

Firbeck Hall’s history isn't all murders and suicides, incoming folk may be glad to know.

Back in the 1930s, it was THE place to be.

The then-Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson enjoyed private interludes at the stately home hidden in secluded woodland.

They could make use of a 100-foot outdoor heated swimming pool, the tennis or squash courts.

Then they could take tea on the terrace, idle down to the golf course or the banks of the trout stream, chat with other guests like aviator Amy Johnson, or dine at the restaurant with its London West End chef and maitre d'hotel.

After a weekend away from it all, the Royal pair, party-weary aristocrats and famous actors could fly home from the hall’s own aerodrome.

The hall, built in 1594 by lawyer William West, of Moorgate, Hall Rotherham, is being sold through Redbrik by husband and wife David and Natalie Johnson and Natalie’s brother, Jason Shrimpton.

Ghosts are included.

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