Probably the best-known ghost in and around Appleby is one from Cromwellian times known as ‘Peg Sneddle’, an account of whom is given in E. Bellasis’ Machells of Crackenthorpe (1886). Here she is identified as Elizabeth Sleddall, the wife of Lancelot Machell of Crackenthorpe Hall, and mayor of Appleby (1660–71). She was said to haunt Crackenthorpe Hall and appear to the heads of the family shortly before their deaths.
The country folk say that she has been seen driving along the Appleby road at a great pace with ‘amber leets [lights]’ in the carriage, and disappears suddenly in Machell wood near a spot marked in the ordnance survey Peg Sneddle’s trough. When storms come from the Fell, Peg is said to be angry, and vice versa in fine weather …
The ‘Fell’ in question is Cross Fell, in Cumberland, from which a sudden icy wind called the Helm Wind is traditionally said to blow.
The country people said that Peg was ‘laid’ under a big stone called ‘Peg’s stone’ in the River Eden just below Crackenthorpe Hall for 999 years. Bellasis had been told that this stone had disappeared, ‘albeit a stone there still … was pointed out to me as Peg’s, just off the right bank below the hall.’
Bellasis quotes from a Machell family manuscript book the tradition that an old oak tree in the neighbourhood of Crackenthorpe was known as Sleddall’s Oak, ‘where a female figure is seen to sit and weep when any misfortune is about to befall any member of the Machell family’. Some later writers say that Peg Sneddle and Elizabeth Sleddall were two separate ghosts. In the 1960s, Gerald Findler reported that, when he was a soldier convalescing at Appleby during the First World War, wounded ‘Tommies’ often came in at night with tales of having seen Peg.