Back in 2008 I wrote the following for the BBC spooky Stories website, – A squire’s horse is said to be seen cantering through ‘Witch Wood’. The Witch was the favourite horse of the local squire, John Talbot Clifton, who lived at Lytham Hall. At that time before the houses were built Witch Wood was part of the grounds of The Hall. It’s thought the Witch was killed in a riding accident in the woods, the witch’s grave is in the trees by the side of the path. The inscription reads: ‘The Witch. Died January 5th 1888.’
So where in relation to today is ‘Witch Wood’, if on foot you not that far off Cambridge road, and Clifton drive, the actual address is Bridge Road, Lytham , FY8 4EQ
Many years ago when I worked as an office junior at a solicitors on Park Street in Lytham, there were periods of time when the office was quite, so of course I took it upon myself to educate my knowledge of Lytham Hall which was just a short walk from the office and Guardian Royal Exchange. From newspapers articles and books I learned the following after quite a few visits to Lytham Hall itself…
I found that as the years had passed and land had been sold off all that was left as what was commonly known as ‘the big wood’, near to the west/south boundary of Lytham Hall itself. Around 1963 Guardian Royal had taken over Lytham Hall estate and bequeathed the wood to Lytham St Annes Civic Society, to be open and used by all.
As we know John Talbot Clifton and the family loved to race horses and of course with the vast grounds were able to exercise them at want and will. At the time of ‘Witch’ being buried the grave was still within Hall owned land, until of course much later when the boundaries moved and the gravestone was now in the vicinity of public land, instead of it being moved it was left as a reminder of the tragic accident that had happened.
When I first heard of the heritage and folklore I of course went down during the night to see if the horse or indeed anything else would appear! Alas nothing, apart from the usual noises of that of course you own imagination make you think there is something else there with you… Question is will you be taking a walk on Halloween and what you will see in ‘Witch Wood’.
Further reading and history from the following websites.