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Bolton Priory 15-11-2003
Sunday, 16 November 2003


15-11-2003 @ 9:14pm
The Mostly Haunted team investigate Bolton Priory and surrounding grounds.

bolton_priory1.jpgBolton Priory is often referred to as an Abbey but this Augustinian house was founded, as a priory in 1121. The construction of Bolton Priory continued over a period of about 350 years, suffering lapses due to invasion, disease, and bad weather. By the time of Dissolution, construction ceased, and the West Tower was never completed.

Today the monastic outhouses are no longer visible except by their foundations, and the octagonal Chapter House is gone, leaving behind its arched entrance. However, since the period of Dissolution, Prior Moone who continued to use it as a place of worship for the locals secured the nave of the Priory. It has continued in this role until the present day.

It is quite common for many ruined abbeys in the country to claim to have a ghost of a monk or nun, and perhaps the most famous is that which haunts Bolton Priory. The Black Canon is the name given to a ghost that has been seen on numerous occasions and by many people at Bolton Priory throughout the years. The Black Canon is described as a man in his late sixties, with a heavily lined and wrinkled face, with several daysí growth of grey stubble on his chin. The Black Canon is also described as wearing a black cassock, black cloak and a flat black hat, and has been seen in the Priory grounds, the Choir, and around the church. It has often been reported that the sound of feet in sandals can be heard moving around the rectory.


At 9:14pm on Saturday 15th November 2003 the Mostly Haunted Team visited Bolton Abbey. Ian , Richard , Claire , and Lindsey arrived to spend time at the site to investigate the reported sightings of the Black Canon. As usual they used digital and conventional 35mm cameras, and a video camera with a Night Scope to record the event.

The first thing that the team wanted to set up was a trigger object. It was decided to conduct this experiment in the graveyard and so, a piece of paper was place on a grave with five coins on it. Ian drew a line around each coin and then placed a motion sensor close by, covering the trigger object. As the team approached the grave Lindsey reported that her torch, fitted with new batteries, had stopped working.

Fig 1.Fig 2.

With the trigger object in place the team began to make their way around the ruins. The first place they went to was the Chapter House, an octagonal room where the monks would have held meetings. Moving on from this location they went into the remains of the cloisters and then onto the main part of the ruins, the Choir.

So far nothing of note had happened. However, whilst in the Choir, the motion detector in the graveyard was set off. The team made their way to the trigger object and discovered that two of the coins had moved.

Fig 3.Fig 4.

Initially the team were excited, but then they came up with an explanation. Claire and Lindsey conducted some quick experiments that showed how a breeze could have caused the coins to move. They showed that if one of the corners of the paper was lifted it would set off the motion detector and cause only two of the coins to move. As a result, the trigger object was reset and all the corners of the paper secured.

The team returned to the Choir and placed a static camera whilst they conducted a darkness vigil. Whilst moving around in the Choir, Ian reported a cold spot. One of the team photographed the area in which he was stood and, in the light of the cameraís flash Ian thought he saw a figure sat close to where the camera was positioned.

Fig 5. What he saw in that instance was the figure of a man sat as if in thought, or watching something. Although he could not make out any specific details, he did appear to be wearing a hat with a round top and large, thin brim. The figure would have been quite short, possibly five feet six inches tall according to Ianís description.

The figure was not seen again and Ian and Richard decided to walk around the inside of the Choir.

At one point Richard thought that he saw something move from the ruins into the graveyard which he described as having red eyes, but he could not describe it any further. A short time later, as the team were walking back through the graveyard, Richard again saw what looked to be eyes watching the team from the trees by the graveyard path. It was decided that they probably had seen an animal.

The team returned to the trigger object, but no significant movement had occurred this time. The coins appeared to have moved a fraction, but this was explained as a result of the paper shifting slightly with the damp present in the air.

The investigation concluded shortly afterwards and all team members agreed that they had felt a calming feeling whilst conducting the experiment. At no time did anyone on the team feel unease. The seated figure, however, remains unexplained.


Fig 6.Fig 6 shows a sketch Ian drew shortly after returning home of the seated figure seen in the choir.
Maybe the most interesting find however came about after the 35mm film had been processed. The photograph seen in Fig 7 was developed and seems to show a persons face as if to be leaning towards the camera. What do you make of it. Please let us know by e-mailing us.Fig 7.

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