The Ghost of Oakwell Hall
Oakwell's most famous legend concerns the ghost of William Batt, owner of the house in 1684. He was a young man of 25, a bachelor whose widowed mother, Elizabeth, lived at Oakwell. The best account of the ghost story comes from the Victorian writer Mrs Gaskell in her "Life of Charlotte Bronte".
Her account is as follows:
"Captain Batt was believed to be far away; his family was at Oakwell; when in the dusk on a winter evening, he came stalking along the lane, through the hall and up the stairs, into his own room, where he vanished. He had been killed in a duel in London that very same afternoon of December 9th 1684."
The legend also states that he left a bloody footprint behind in a bedroom. The historical facts behind the story are as follows:
- A bond surviving in the archives shows that William was at the Black Swan, Holborn in London on December 9th, where he borrowed money.
- Local diarist Oliver Heywood has two entries recording the death of William; one that he died ‘in sport'; the other that he was ‘slain by Mr Gream at Barne near London'.
- William was buried in Birstall on December 30th 1684
And before you get too scared, we confess. The image above was 'posed by a model'. William himself is too shy to pose for pictures...