Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

The Ghost of Madame Turner

Barely a glimpse of Busby Hall can be gained from the limit of the Public Bridleway which follows the old coach road leading to the estate. Remarkably, this track once served as the main entrance. Presently, entry is gained through the village of Carlton-in-Cleveland. Pevsner, the architectural historian, offers a description of the hall as “Ashlar. Five widely spaced bays. Hipped roof. Tripartite doorway with a blank arch. Venetian window round the corner.1Pevsner, Nikolaus. “The Buildings of England – Yorkshire – The North Riding”. Page 104. Penguin Books. Reprinted 1985. Frankly, these details go over my head. Nonetheless, Pevsner adds that the Hall was built after a fire in 1764. This, precisely, anchors the narrative surrounding an alleged ghost haunting.

Undoubtedly, Madame Turner was a real person, a wealthy woman, the lady of Busby Hall. She may have already had a reputation for harshness, but, upon disinheriting and banishing her daughter for an unsanctioned lover, the good folk of the village reacted with shock and anger, and were sympathetic to the girl. Allegedly, their reprisal took the form of burning Busby Hall to the ground2‚ÄėGhostly Visitations. | Leeds Mercury | Wednesday 28 March 1906 | British Newspaper Archive‚Äô. 2024. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000747/19060328/175/0005> [accessed 26 March 2024].

When Madame Turner took her seat in her carriage, endeavouring to escape the inferno, her horses displayed an obstinate reluctance, choosing to go backwards, thus pushing the carriage and its occupants closer to the engulfing flames. Consequently, additional horses had to be fetched from Stokesley, animals unaware of Madame’s temperament, before she could be driven away.

According to local legend, upon her death, she harboured deep regret, her unsettled soul purportedly lingering within Busby Hall and the ancient coach road. Numerous accounts recount sightings not only of her ghost but also of other apparitions along the route to the Hall, but their connection to the incident remain uncertain.

Where the old coach road intersects with Busby Lane at a gate called Rolling Pin Gate, another tale emerges involving a faithful maid who was once in the employ of Madame Turner. Legend has it that the maid met an untimely end, yet her loyalty to the family remained steadfast. Whenever the family used the coach road, the gate would open seemingly of its own accord, attributed to the ghostly presence of this maid3‚ÄėInvasion of Carlton | Stockton Herald, South Durham and Cleveland Advertiser |¬†Saturday 07 April 1906 | British Newspaper Archive‚Äô. 2024. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002976/19060407/200/0007> [accessed 26 March 2024]. A remarkably benevolent ghost! Thus, she acquired the name ‘Rolling Pin Jenny.’ Rolling Pin Gate still retains its name on modern maps, although the gate is now a heavy steel barrier.

On another occasion, nearly a century ago, there arose considerable alarm along the road linking Stokesley and Busby Hall. Numerous accounts circulated, recounting sightings of a spectral carriage drawn by a pair of horses, driven by a headless coachman and attended by two footmen. This eerie sight purportedly careered down the road near Busby Hall, heading towards Stokesley late in the evening, only to vanish mysteriously into the ether4‚ÄėCleveland Re-Visited | Cleveland Standard | Saturday 07 January 1933 | British Newspaper Archive‚Äô. 2022. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003490/19330107/193/0010> [accessed 21 July 2022].

Madame Turner, Rolling Pin Jenny, and the headless coachman are not the only ghosts to have graced Carlton’s environs; however, this other tale will have to wait until another day.


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One response to “The Ghost of Madame Turner”

  1. […] might recall my previous post, the Ghost of Madame Turner. This tale, however, concerns a Miss Prissick, who is said to roam the Manor House and churchyard […]

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