There have been not one, but two separate, documented exorcisms around the shores of Windermere. In both cases, the unwanted spirits were local people who came back to haunt those who, as they say, had done them wrong.
The first case is the unsettling tale of the Crier of Claife, who was heard calling the word “Boat” across the water by the Ferryman on duty at the Storrs ferry landing (just south of Bowness on Windermere). The Ferryman set out to collect his passenger from the Claife shore, but returned alone the next morning, so terrified by what he’d seen, he couldn’t speak. He died a day later without uttering another word.
Some people say the Crier of Claife was himself, a love-stricken local monk but other versions of the tale indicate a more sinister possibility. The Crier could have been the ghost of Thomas Lancaster, multiple poisoner and child murderer who had been hanged close by. As he awaited his execution at the Claife ferry landing, he uttered a single word in ironic jest.... “Boat”. The spirit was eventually exorcised with full ritual by a monk from Furness Abbey.
The present-day Cumbria County Council staff who operate the Mallard, the tow-ferry which runs between Storrs and Claife, maintain that the Crier of Claife was not in fact, banished by his exorcism, and can still be heard on dark lonely nights...
The second case is one of the most famous ghost stories in the Lake District.
Kraster and Doreen Cook, falsely accused of theft at Calgarth Hall by Magistrate Miles Philipson, were sentenced to death by hanging.
Doreen cursed the whole Philipson family just before sentence was carried out – and she and her husband Kraster returned from beyond the grave repeatedly for decades in the form of flaming skulls, destroying the Philipsons’ entire legacy.
The Bishop of Llandaff performed the exorcism, again with full ritual of Bell, Book and Candle, in an effort to rid Calgarth Hall of these two persistent ghouls.
The Philipson family passed into obscurity and the sad, forgotten remains of Calgarth Hall can be found tucked safely out of site near Troutbeck Bridge - if you have courage enough to find it.
Discover these and many more hidden, often grizzly stories behind every local tourist spot in our fascinating film “Tales From The Southern Lakes”. You’ll never see the lakes the same way again.