Snapper John’s daughter, by Thomas Parsons Cooper

Between Muker and Keld, on the north-east side of Kisdon Hill, is an area known as Hartlakes where a ruined farmhouse stands. It was the scene of a dreadful haunting, the story of which was among the papers of a York-based local historian Thomas Parsons Cooper (1863-1937). It was shown to me by his granddaughter Jocelyn Campbell, to whom I am grateful for permission to reproduce it here. He wrote:

On your way to Kisdon Force you pass a romantic lane by the side of the Swale. The lane, particularly in autumn, is an elf-land of ferns, wild flowers and coral-like hips, haws and mountain ash berries, often twice the size of those seen in districts purely agricultural. Presently you come to certain pastures called Hartlakes on the slope of Kisdon Hill, whose flat summit soars far above.

In the pastures stand Bogle House, a roughly stone-built place, too desolate in its appearance and general situation to be tenanted by a reasonable being. Even the boldest farmers and shepherds who have known it all their lives shiver when they look at it. They hear the uncanny wail in the ceaseless roar of Kisdon Force, as it comes along the night air, and the brawling waters of Swinnergill on the opposite bank add their notes to those of the gurgling Swale. The Bogle House thus sleeps amid melancholy music.

It seems that one John Alton, always known as Snapper John, was the last tenant at Bogle House. One day when he and his wife were away at Muker market, one of their children set her clothes on fire, from the effects of which she died. The event is recorded in the parish registers. The men of the upper dale assure you most gravely that the unfortunate girl leaped in her agony from floor to ceiling, and that marks of her head are visible on the ceiling to this day.

Snapper John and his family remained in the house until they could no longer stand the moans and ‘fleyings’ by night, which resembled the familiar voice of their lost child, and which were at times accompanied by the sound of a bag of clog-soles being rattled by the ghostly visitant under the stone stairs.

When Snapper John left for more peaceful surroundings, the dales people called the place Bogle House, and knowing its terrors have ever since carefully avoided it after sundown.

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