Guest writer KATIE DOHERTY has long been fascinated by the paranormal mystery surrounding Derbyshire’s Sutton Scarsdale Hall and its long list of ghostly sightings
Derbyshire is finally being recognised as one of the most haunted places in the United Kingdom, its rich history of horrific deaths, burial sites and spooky tales makes it the perfect setting for some very ghostly tales.
Derbyshire covers over 1000 square miles, scattered over this vast and beautiful county are burial mounds, standing stones and churches; all of which have a story to tell.
Whilst living in Derbyshire I wrote an article entitled The Spectres of Sutton Scarsdale Hall and since my initial visit to get a feel for the place I was transfixed by its beauty and its history.
Not only did I want to investigate further but I wanted to look into the spooky happenings that so many people had reported such as a grey figure, movement in the cellar of the hall.
I couldn’t just take this on face value I had to go and investigate.
In its day Sutton Scarsdale Hall was said to be one of the finest houses in the Derbyshire area even rivalling the interior of Chatsworth House, it is now a ruined shell, standing proudly on a hill overlooking the Bolsover Valley.
The original building was of great beauty and splendour until it was sold and then went into great disrepair.
In the 1920s parts of it were auctioned off and allegedly even sold to film sets.
By 1946, the building had deteriorated so much that demolition was scheduled, but an emergency rescue was successful thanks to Sir Osbert Sitwell that allowed the shell to be preserved.
It now stands as a skeleton but some of its grand fittings and fixtures still remain, almost a living memory to the hard work and grand craftsmanship that went into creating the hall.
As you wander around you try to imagine what the hall looked like and who walked the very footsteps you are treading now, it is so beautiful still.
Over the years there have been several reports of paranormal activity.
People have often reported cold spots in the grounds, strange apparitions, the smell of tobacco and shadows lurking in the corners.
From this initial information I was excited to get out there and see what I could find so I took my trusty camera, my notebook and set out for a day of ghost hunting.
So, why would this hall be haunted?
There are stories that its owner Nicholas Leake is one of the ghosts and a rather romantic but chilling tale could just confirm this.
Nicholas Leake, the 4th and last Earl of Scarsdale, left for the Crusades, took out his sword and split his wedding ring in half.
He gave half to his wife and kept the other half as good luck.
He was captured and spent many years in a prison. One day, he was dreaming of home and he was transported through the air by rather mysterious gust of wind and landed in the porch at the church of the hall.
He went to the doors of his house but no one recognised him. He demanded to be let in but they refused him on the ground that he was just a beggar or someone trying to get in.
At that point he would have been dressed in rags and had long untidy hair and probably a beard.
He took out his half of his wedding ring and told the servants to pass it onto his wife. She put the two pieces together and realised her husband had returned home.
Witnesses have reported a grey figure wandering the graveyard towards the church, could this be a resident of that very graveyard or could the figure be the wife of Nicholas Leake?
Nicholas has also been thought to haunt the porch at the church hall and to wander the grounds which may be why people often feel they may have been followed or that someone could be lurking in the corners.
Could his sadness have made an everlasting impression on the building?
What I was most excited about was the cellar.
There have been reports of movements within this particular part of the building such as footsteps and whispers but the cellar has been closed off for some time now.
One has to wonder; what or who is down there?
We could of course go wild and delve into our imaginations and think of the awful things that may lurk in the bowels of the hall, could there be a trapped spirit down there?
I was eager to capture something so I got on my knees and lowered my camera down into the cellar area but it is very restricted with iron bars that stops the general public from going down there.
I took some pictures but they didn’t come out very well, I certainly didn’t capture any ghostly figures that’s for sure.
The activity at Sutton Scarsdale never stops.
People have reported the sight of a floating dismembered arm that beckons the witness into the cellar, my on-going interest into what is going on down there will go on forever more.
Sutton Scarsdale seems to be shrouded in mystery, it was even thought that it was haunted whilst it was occupied.
A postcard (acquired by Paranormal Investigators PICOUK) shows an image of a ghostly figure standing next to what looks like a gardener.
The photograph would have been taken many years ago so it is difficult to really understand how this had occurred, was it a trick or was it real?
We cannot be sure. Here is the link to the postcard, judge for yourself.
The eerie feel of the hall is mesmerising, if you are ever in the area then I would suggest a trip to take in the beautiful Derbyshire scenery that surrounds it, the wonderful architecture that remains and take in the ghostly atmosphere that is Sutton Scarsdale Hall.
KATIE DOHERTY is the editor and writer of Black Sunday zine. As an ex-film student she began writing scripts but then moved onto non fiction works surrounding heavy metal music, horror and the darker side of life. You can find out more about her at http://thehouseofdirge.com