Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Perhaps even the oldest building. It has had many different residents through the centuries. but Bolling Hall has been a museum and education center since 1915. And it’s haunted by no less than 20 ghosts including one or more malevolent ones.

The history of Bolling Hall 

Tim Green via flickr CC BY-2.0
Tim Green via flickr CC BY-2.0

It’s unsure exactly how old Bolling Hall is, but the mansion was already named in the Domesday Book. This manuscript recorded buildings in England and a part of Wales from before and after 1066. It was completed in 1086 by the order of King William the Conqueror. According to the Domesday Book, Bolling Hall was first owned by a man named Sindi. The oldest surviving part now dates back to the 14th century.

It’s been interpreted as a peel tower, although these structures are not typical for this part of the country. The longest residing family of the mansion was the Bolling family, who owned the hall from 1316 until the late 15th century. The hall passed on to the Tempest family by marriage and they kept it until it was taken over by the Royalists in 1643. They used the manor as their base. When the Royalists were defeated, the manor had several more owners until it went to the Bradford Corporation in 1912. And in 1915, it was turned into a museum.  

The legend of Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall dining area - Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain
Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain

Bolling Hall has at least 20 ghostly residents from all sorts of periods. One of them dates back to 1643, when the Earl of Newcastle, the Royalist commander, slept in what is now called the Ghost Room. He woke up in the middle of the night when his bedsheets were being pulled. The spirit of a woman was standing in his room, pleading the commander to “pity poor Bradford”. Still shaken in the morning, the commander decided to change his original plan. That was to kill all residents of Bradford, who had strong Parliamentarian sympathies. He now ordered his troops to only kill those who offered resistance. Only 10 people were killed that day.  

The Ghost Room 

A lady dressed in white has been seen in the same room as well. She appeared to float in mid-air across the room before disappearing into the fireplace.  

 Bolling Hall - Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain
Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain

The main staircase  

The main staircase is one of the paranormal hotspots of the mansion. People don’t like to be here on their own. Some have even claimed to have been pushed by an unseen force. The smell of pipe smoke is also common there, even though smoking is not allowed in the building. The balcony above the main hall is a creepy place as well. Some people say they couldn’t access it, as if they were stopped, and many shadowy figures have been seen up there walking towards an adjoining room before disappearing.  

The Main Hall 

Dragging noises have been heard in the Main Hall when no one was around to make those noises 

The Blue Room 

Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain
Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain

The Blue Room is disliked by all staff members. It is as if you’re being watched in that room. The apparition of a man wearing a long black coat has been seen here quite often. People feel threatened by his presence. The ghost of a stern looking Victorian woman also haunts this room. The doorknob in the Blue Room kept on turning on its own accord. This freaked many people out, so the knob was removed.  

The Bolling Hall nursery 

A child’s crib has been witnessed to rock back and forth by itself as people entered the room. A terrified woman with a baby on her arm is seen in here as well. The sound of a baby crying can be heard throughout the entire hall.  

The Staff Room 

Bolling Hall pink bedroom - Wallpaperflare - Edited
Michael D Beckwith via flickr public domain

A member of the staff was working on the alarm system because it didn’t work when suddenly he heard a woman crying. Then, the door of the room started shaking because someone was violently banging on it. The woman on the other side started yelling: “He will kill me for this, I’m a dead woman for this!” She sounded very scared and this went on for 20 minutes. When the startled staff member finally got the courage to open the door, there was no one on the other side.

The Exhibition Room  

The Exhibition Room is haunted by a lady in 1960’s clothing. One of the guides saw her sitting in the left-hand chair. The guide asked the lady to leave for it was closing time. She got up and walked right through the solid wall.  

Other ghostly phenomena 

Bolling Hall exterior - Tim Green via flickr CC BY-2.0 - Edited
Tim Green via flickr CC BY-2.0

Unseen hands once grabbed a woman’s necklace, pulled it off her neck and smashed it to the ground. A wrenching, strong odor of rotting comes and goes. Sounds of banging doors, disembodied voices, footsteps and heavy breathing have been heard. This place is not for the faint hearted!  

Fun facts about Bolling Hall 

Perhaps Bolling Hall is so haunted because they used to (and still) have strange objects on display. A pickled tongue which belonged to Mary Bateman, the Yorkshire Witch who was hanged for murder, was exhibited at the manor. It was taken away in the 1950’s because people thought the item was too macabre. Oliver Cromwell’s death mask is still on display on a regular basis. I guess Bolling Hall doesn’t like to let go of the past, and perhaps that’s why the past doesn’t let go of Bolling Hall… 

Do you want to read more ghost stories of places in Europe? Please click here.

Cover photo: StuartBurrows via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0
Sources: Wikipedia,,,,,,, and the book: The Yorkshire Witch: The Life & Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens 
Address: 15 Bowling Hall Road, Bradford, BD4 7RY, England 

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