Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 1/Turton Tower

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Turton Tower is now one of the most interesting structures in the neighbourhood of Bolton. The manor is said to have been granted by William the Conqueror to De Orrell, one of his followers, for military services rendered to him in the conquest of England. De Orrell, having fixed upon the place of his residence, erected a strong house of defence, which was afterwards known as Turton Tower; and it is said that the wages of the workmen were then only one penny a day. Even at this low rate of payment the Tower is said to have been built in such a style of magnificence that the family never recovered from the difficulties created by the immense outlay. The principal portions of the Tower, as it now exists, were built of stone by William, son of John Orrell, Esq., in 1596; but the older portions still retain their gabled wood-and-plaster decorations, so characteristic of the many ancient mansions of the early Tudor period still or lately existing in Lancashire. The Orrells disposed of their estates to the noted Humphrey Chetham; and subsequently, through Mr Hoare, it became the property of James Kay, Esq., of Pendleton, who has made it his principal residence, and has restored the decayed portions of the house with strict regard to their original design. Some years ago the writer spent several pleasant hours in and around this imposing feudal structure, and heard the tradition that the tower is haunted by a lady who can occasionally be heard passing along the lobbies and into the rooms, as if dressed in very stiff rustling silk, but is never able to be seen. It is said, that the sound is most distinct as she sweeps along the broad massive oaken staircase which leads from the hall into the upper rooms. Many traditions also prevail in the neighbourhood respecting the wealth and expenditure of Sir Humphrey Chetham during his residence at the Tower; and certainly they are quite justified by those portions of the structure which bear his name.

At a short distance from the Tower there is a farmhouse, known by the name of Timberbottom, or the Skull House. It is so called from the circumstance that two skulls are or were kept here, one of which was much decayed, and the other appeared to have been cut through by a blow from some sharp instrument. Tradition says that these skulls must be kept in the house, or the inmates will never cease to be disturbed. They are said to have been buried many times in the graveyard at Bradshaw Chapel, but they have always had to be exhumed and brought back to the farmhouse. They have even been thrown into the adjacent river, but to no purpose; for they had to be fished up and restored to their old quarters before the ghosts of their owners could once more rest in peace.