Heage Hall

Heage Hall, later divided into cottages, had the reputation of being haunted. In Ghosts of Derbyshire (1973), Clarence Daniel writes that this reputation was actively encouraged to divert attention from criminal activities, as the Hall was said to be one of the hiding places of two notorious highwaymen, Bracey and Bradshaw, and that stories are still told of horses being shod backwards to hinder pursuit.

Of the several ghosts, by far the most interesting is that of Squire George Pole who lived at the Hall in the seventeenth century. For many years, one of the bedrooms contained a large iron-bound chest which had belonged to him. It had many locks and contained his money and the deeds to the Hall, and his sword and pistol always lay ready to hand on its lid. Though Sir George was said to have kept the keys on him day and night, and furthermore had the door to the bedroom barricaded with iron bands, when the chest was opened after he died there was no money in it.

The Hall was already said to be haunted by Pole’s wife, to whom he had been so cruel that she died of melancholy. He was later persuaded against his will to build the church at Heage in 1646 in atonement for his misdeeds. This was evidently not enough, as shortly after his death he was seen coursing in the fields with his dogs and riding in his coach across Belper common. It was alleged that he sometimes took the form of a bird ‘larger than a crow’ (compare the spirit of King Arthur at MARAZION, Cornwall). At other times, he came as a ‘shagged foal’, one of the traditional bogey beasts (see BRIGG, Lincolnshire).

One man nearly died of fright after encountering Pole and his dogs one night when he was returning from a religious meeting. The clergyman of his congregation, ‘Pastor Macklin’, later conducted a service of exorcism and laid Sir George’s restless spirit in Dumble Hole.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008