Martin, you may find the story below interesting - to my knowledge she was born a Beswick and never married.
Birchen Bower, Hollinwood, Manchester
The ghost of Madam Hannah Beswick is still thought to be regular visitor to the industrial estate in New Avenue, which stands on the site of what was once Birchen Bower. She was buried at Harpurhey Cemetery, Manchester, on 22nd July, 1868, but had actually died in 1758, some 110 years before.
This rather odd story has its beginnings in 1745, when Prince Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, was marching south with his Highlanders, pillaging and plundering, until he was turned back after being defeated at the Battle of Derby.
Hannah Beswick was the Lady of Birchen Bower Manor, and until she was too old to continue, had farmed the estate. When she retired, she moved from the house to a small cottage on the banks of the stream in the grounds of the manor.
When the Highland hordes swept south, she converted all her wealth into gold and hid it in the grounds of the manor house. Ironically, the Scots never came to Birchen Bower and she lived on for another 13 years. She never revealed the hiding place of her wealth.
Shortly after the Scottish invasion had been repelled, John Beswick, one of Hannah’s brothers, died - or appeared to do so. He had actually been placed in his coffin and it was only just before the lid was to be screwed down that it was noticed that his eyelids were flickering. A check by Doctor Charles White, the family practitioner, showed that the man was still alive. He was taken from his coffin and woke from his coma a few days later, to live on for many more years, after having narrowly escaped his premature burial. This event made such an impression on Hannah Beswick’s mind that she immediately made out her will, leaving the whole of her estate to Doctor White on the condition that he and his descendants were to receive the income from the Birchen Bower estates as long as her body was not buried.
Shortly before her death, the old lady told her relatives that if they were to carry her to the house so that she could die there, she would show them the location of the hidden gold. However, before this could be done, her condition deteriorated and she could not be moved. She died a few days later.
Doctor White had her body embalmed in tar and swathed it in heavy bandages, leaving the face uncovered. The corpse was then placed in a glass-fronted coffin and was kept at Doctor White’s house before being moved to Sale, and then, on his death, to the Natural History Museum, in Peter Street, Manchester, becoming an object of popular interest. In July, 1868, the museum’s trustees decided that it as undesirable to have the corpse remain there and arrangements were made for it’s burial. In the meantime, until his own death, Doctor White is said to have lived in comfort from the rents collected from the Birchen Bower estate.
It was a condition of Hannah Beswick’s will that her body should be taken back to Birchen Bower for a period of one week, every 21 years. True to the condition, the body was laid to rest for the specified period in the old barn. However, during the times that her body lay in the barn, strange things happened on the estate. Horses and cattle, that had been secured in their stables and paddocks overnight, were found loose in the fields the following morning. On one occasion a cow was actually found in the hayloft.
The strange occurrences were not limited to the times when Miss Beswick’s body was brought to the barn. It was only shortly after her death, and the house had been divided into several dwellings for the poor, that her ghost was seen in the house.
Her visits became that frequent that the residents who saw her were in no way alarmed. The phenomena always started with the rustling of silk and were followed shortly afterwards by the apparition of the figure of a lady in black, who would glide through the room towards the parlour, where she would disappear at one particular flagstone.
In another dwelling, the tenant had a treadle-lathe, which he used for small joinery jobs to earn more money doing work for his neighbours. On several occasions he found what appeared to be an invisible person working away at the lathe as he went in to the workroom.
Joe the Tamer moved into the house with his very large family. Joe, who was a handloomer, was extremely poor but his luck seemed to change when he moved into Birchen Bower, because his family were seen to eat well and wear expensive clothes, and they lived in prosperity. This happened whilst his neighbours were starving and caused a great deal of comment and jealousy. It was not for many years that he was to admit that he had discovered a hidden hoard of gold bars under the floor, whilst digging a treadle-hole so that he could fit a loom in the parlour, at the very spot where Hannah Beswick was seen so many times to disappear. Joe had sold the bars to a gold dealer in Manchester,
Madam Beswick is still said to haunt the area of the site on which Birchen Bower once stood. In April, 1956, several night-shift workers saw her shadowy figure at the Ferranti Works. Over a period of a few days she was seen by more than 40 people. She was also seen standing at the works’ entrance in 1968. In 1972, she was seen wandering through the works’ canteen.
In the early part of the 20th century, she was also seen standing beside an old well, and has been seen visiting the site of the old barn in quite recent times. Perhaps she had hidden part of her hoard there as well.
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