The Haunted Lantern



In the mid nineteenth century my great great grandparents, James & Hannah Croasdell lived and farmed for some 15 - 20 years at Plumpton Hall near Ulverston. James was a tenant farmer and he also worked the lime kiln and quarry at Woodend on the Plumpton estate. He became tenant in 1859 and in 1861 was farming there with his wife, five of his seven surviving children, and eight farm and household servants, including a full-time mole catcher.
Plumpton Hall
Plumpton Hall stands on the shore of the Leven Estuary. It is on the very edge of the sea and by the infamous shifting sands which have lured many souls to their deaths as they sought to cross the bay. The building is said to date in parts from the 12th century and the "new wing" of the house was added in 1636, with later "modernisations" in the reign of Queen Anne.

Plumpton Front Door
It has a splendid front doorway. In the oldest part of the house, the flagstoned kitchen, there is an ancient stone wall about 7' foot 6" in width and containing a spiral staircase which would have lead to the first floor. No doubt this was the way my great grandfather and his brothers and sister would have crept to bed after supper and stumbled down, bleary eyed each morning to set off to school in Ulverston or help their father on the farm.

The Oak Staircase
The main staircase is a much grander affair made of oak - 'though expert opinion now believes this particular part of the house is not original to it and could have been brought in from elsewhere.

James and William with Latern
James & his son William with the lantern
But one of the main features of the house is a large brass lantern, hanging from the main stairwell. It is said to be of Moorish origin and to have been washed ashore from the wreck of a ship of the Spanish Armada. Or alternatively it was brought back from the Crusades! The lantern used to be lit and hung in the hall to act as a guide to travellers crossing the sands. The legend of the lantern is that it is said it will never leave the house.

Various attempts have apparently been made to remove it, including one occasion when it was put in a barrel and thrown out to sea. But always it is rediscovered, hanging back in its usual place the next morning! Some years ago we visited the Hall and were shown around by its owners. They had taken the trouble to have the lantern assessed by an expert from the "Antiques Roadshow". In his opinion the lantern was of Portuguese origin and of much more recent date then either the Crusades or the Spanish Armada! But he didn't comment about the lantern's behaviour - perhaps it has something to do with the tides in the estuary and the way everything is washed ashore.

Various other stories exist about Plumpton Hall and its surroundings. Several sightings have been reported of an old crone who appears in the woods and around the precipitous slopes of the quarry. There is a ghostly horseman who gallops across the sands before disappearing and occasional mention of bloodstained footprints. And there is a sailor who was shipwrecked with his wife and child. They became separated and the wife and child were given shelter in the Hall. When the sailor later reached the hall and looked through the window he thought his wife and child were ghosts and his hair turned white. He returns, white haired each year on October 29th to gaze through the window at his loved ones by the fireside.

Whatever the tales of hauntings and apparitions, Plumpton Hall seems to have been a successful period in the lives of the Croasdell family. James was a well respected farmer in the neighbourhood and he set up his sons in the trade or profession of their choice - 2 stonemasons, 2 engineers, a farmer and an innkeeper.


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