BECKY KEANE tells us about the Legend of Boggart Hole Clough in North Manchester
Boggart Hole Clough is a vast 190 acre woodland park with ravines and gullies; set in Blackley (pronounced Blakeley), a ward of Manchester. In 2008, it was named as a Local Nature Reserve, and has since hosted cross country races, bonfire night displays and family fun days.
The atmosphere at the Clough is said to have an eerie, magical feel, a Boggart, or House Boggart is a mischievous and malicious spirit-like goblin that causes poltergeist activity which stems from the Lancashire and Yorkshire folktales. The Hole refers to its dwelling, and the word Clough comes from the local dialect for a steep – sided wooded valley.
Boggarts can inhabit marshes or holes and can be responsible for very serious evil deed, including the abduction of children.
What is a boggart?
One of the most famous stories associated with Boggart Hole Clough is that of a Boggart infestation at a homestead. A farmer and his family were so frightened they felt compelled to leave, passing their neighbour’s house, the farmer heard his neighbour ask if they were leaving? The farmer replied “Aye, we’re flitting” ( yes we are moving) only to hear the words he spoke repeated back by an unseen force.
Realising the Boggart would follow them the family returned to their farm house, sometimes the Boggart would be helpful, cleaning, doing laundry and even churning the milk into butter.
But other times if the Boggart felt somehow disrespected it would throw objects around and break things,banging on the floors and laugh loudly in the dead of night. Sometimes even the bedcovers would be pulled from the family’s beds as they slept.
A poem was written by an anonymous author about the legend.
The Legend of Boggart Hole Clough
Come listen to this merry tale of honest Farmer Bell
Who lived in an old farmhouse top of Moston Dell.
He was a farmer bold, I ween, who ever gripped a flail,
He had cows and horses, pigs and sheep, cheese and nut brown ale.
For years and years, time out of mind, a quaint mischievous elf
Made the ancient farmhouse his and there had lodged himself.
He ate the butter, drank the milk and sucked the new laid eggs,
The milk pails up the chimney put and cracked the table legs.
The farmer’s shoes he filled with sand, often hath been said,
Put spiders in the buttermilk and cinders in the bread.
Now Farmer Bell he knew fine well, though goodness knew why,
The Boggart bore a grudge and drove him mad well nigh.
The doors they slammed, the timbers creaked, the very house did shake
And pots and pans flew round his head and on the floor did break.
Was more than flesh and blood could stand and so thought Farmer Bell,
I’ll flit this haunted house I will and somewhere else will dwell.
I’ve stood it long enough I have, it matters not a whit,
Needs must when Boggarts hold the reins, I’ll pack my things and flit.
I am a farmer bold and I will cheat this cunning elf,
I’ll keep the secret of my plan and leave him to himself.
One morning Farmer Bell put all the things upon the cart,
He locked the door and took the reins and whispered, let us start,
We’ll leave this Boggart here alone without more ado!
Th’art wrong! a voice called from the churn, I am flitten with you too!
Thou art not, the farmer cried and turning to his men
Said, get those things off the cart and in the house again.
Twas but to rid myself of thee, poor Farmer Bell did sigh,
What can’t be cured must be endured so here I’ll live and die!
Poor Farmer Bell he passed away when he’d lived long enough
And now the place where he did dwell is called Boggart Hole Clough.