Dale Head Hall

Dale Head Hall, Thirlemere, nr Keswick, Cumbria

Dale Head Hall has one of the most magnificent and unspoiled settings in the whole of the Lake District. The short driveway takes you through the trees, but leaves you unprepared for the view over Thirlmere from the front garden. 

John Richardson, a local schoolmaster and farmer in the middle years of the last century tells an interesting tale.. Richardson says that one night he was driving sheep back from their winter pasture when he got to Dale Head Park. It was dark when he arrived but he plodded on with the sheep and the dogs until, suddenly, the sheep stopped and became uneasy.

Neither he nor the dogs could get them to go any further. In fact the dogs themselves got frightened and came to him, cowering against his legs. When he made his way to the front of the sheep to see what the problem was, he found a great mound of soil and stone.

He had heard of the Park Boggle (the spirit that haunted that place) and thought it must be something to do with that creature. He spoke out loud, trying to reason with the boggle that he was only a poor farmer on his way home on a dark night. Whatever he said did the trick because suddenly the sheep moved forward.

When he got up to where the pile of soil had been, his foot encountered nothing at all. It seems that the boggle had taken on the form of the heap of earth as some kind of gentle mischief. Richardson also saw the boggle another time. He was doing a bit of walling up on the fellside and by the time he was finished it had got dark. He was coming down into the valley when he saw a column of fire and sparks.

Suddenly the light died away. More curious than frightened, he made his way over to where the fire had been but couldn’t find any sign of burning. He took this to be the shape shifting boggle once again. Dale Head Hall’s drive is haunted because of a man who was murdered on his way home from the King’s Head Inn. But it’s the alleged murderer and not the victim who haunts the spot. After the crime occurred, the locals were so sure that a certain man locally had done it, that they turned against him and drove him out. He protested his innocence but was forced to flee.

He went to Patterdale and lived the rest of his life in the caves there but after his death his spirit came back to the spot of the murder to protest his innocence. In 1995, new owners, Mrs and Mrs Lowe, moved into Dale Head Hall.

Their daughter, Caroline, was sitting in the lounge on her own watching television. Her husband, Hans, was out and she was alone in the house. Quite unexpectedly she heard a loud noise from the ceiling. She describes it as a whoosh – like something heavy being dragged at speed from one side of the room to another. She says that it wasn’t coming from the room above the lounge, it was actually in the lounge up by the ceiling; as if something invisible was making this enormous noise. It started and stopped without a rumble or an echo and she admits to being very frightened.

She said the room was filled with a strange presence as the noise started. She knew that the noise wasn’t going to happen again, because the presence went. Caroline heard other things in the old parts of the house after that. This ties in with what the previous owners reported; noises and feelings that someone’s there with you. More than once guests have reported feelings of a presence, but no one has said it was unpleasant. In fact one sensitive lady said there were a number of spirits in the house, but they were all friendly. There are lots of original oak beams in the house.

Much of it was added in the 1700s to an older core and you can still see the stone wall of the older house as an internal wall in the newer one. There’s a very interesting feature in the older bedrooms; cupboard doors that open to reveal the mullioned Tudor windows; once they looked out to the surrounding hills, but now they only look at the walls encasing them. The older parts of the house have uneven, bowed walls and floors which aren’t straight.

There’s lots of dark wood everywhere and there’s a charming stained glass window that’s probably Victorian. The only apparition that’s been recorded is that of a young girl who visits guests in the old part of the house (Rooms 6, 7 and 8) In Room 7, as in the other older rooms, there are deep inglenooks at the side of the chimney breast. These were used for smoking ham or drying clothes. Room 7’s tradition is that it was the cradle room and it’s from these inglenooks the figure of a young girl comes out. 

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