The strange tale of a haunted staircase
|Blake Hall, Mirfield, West Yorkshire|
Built in 1745, Blake Hall was one of the most breathtaking homes in the West Yorkshire town of Mirfield until it was torn down in 1954. From old photos, one can easily imagine garden parties and games of croquet taking place on the expansive lawns. In the spring of 1839 the Ingham family, who lived at Blake Hall at the time, hired a 19-year-old governess to raise the Ingham children. That governess, Anne Brontë, fictionalized her experience at Blake Hall in her novel, Agnes Grey.
The most impressive feature of the mansion was the Queen Anne staircase, hand-carved from rare burled yew. After being salvaged prior to the demolition of Blake Hall in 1954, the staircase was purchased by an antique dealer. A few years later, Gladys Topping and her husband Allen were in London, browsing the Kensington Antique Fair to find furnishings for their Beach Lane home in Quogue, Long Island when they met the dealer who possessed the exquisite staircase. The Toppings dove 50 miles to the dealer's warehouse, where they saw the Queen Anne staircase and fell in love with it. The Toppings has the staircase shipped to their newly-built home in Long Island where it was immediately installed.
But then, about four years later, strange things began to happen.
On September 3, 1962, Gladys Topping was sitting in the second-floor bedroom, alone in deep meditation. Her husband died the previous April, but before he died he had given Gladys a Doberman pinscher puppy, whom Gladys adored. Shortly after sunset, Gladys heard footsteps on the stairs and the dog went off to investigate. She found the dog, hackles up, growling down the stairs. When Gladys looked to see what the Doberman was growling at, she saw the figure of a young woman ascending the stairs, dressed in a long, full skirt. The dog backed away in fright as the figure continued to climb the stairs, but the ghost then vanished.
Even though the ghost never again appeared, Gladys Topping claims to have heard it on numerous occasions- always on the staircase. Could it have been the ghost of Anne Brontë? Gladys thought so. "Anne- if it is indeed Anne- apparently doesn not wish to reveal herself anymore," Mrs. Topping told a newspaper reporter in September of 1966. "She seems content just going up and down the stairs."
Read the 1966 newspaper article about the haunted staircase here