One-Handed Boughton

The Ghost Of Lawford Hall

A one-handed, well-travelled ghost.

Originally posted on Twitter on the Thursday 9th May 2019.
Images via @britishlibrary's Flickr collection.

A drawing of Lawford Hall just before its demolition.

Lawford Hall stood on the Western edge of Rugby, Warwickshire until 1784.

It has a particularly colourful history thanks to the particularly colourful life and afterlife of one of the earlier Boughton family members.

One-Handed Boughton (OHB) lost his right hand either...

i) fighting the French
ii) fighting the locals
iii) as punishment for impinging on another's land
iv) to ensure he won a race (he chopped his hand off and threw it over the finish line)

OHB was a cantankerous old pain in the bum, "red-faced and roaring", who lived alone in the Hall because all of his servants walked out. He was want to race around the area in his coach and six knocking locals left and right.

Basically, an ASBO-worthy old git.

In 1583 someone realised that OHB hadn't been seen for years. Eventually a delegation was sent to the Hall and they found him dead in his bed. He was buried, his relatives took over the place and that should have been that.


OHB was deceased by not absent. His ghost was especially active and not just in the Hall. His coach and six began haring around the lanes again; he returned to his old maid-worrying ways; he spooked locals and visitors in and around the place.

A sketch from Lawford Hall with a maid looking out over the scene.

Eventually a discretion of priests was sent in to exorcise OHB. Bell, book and candle; the latter going out one by one until only one candle remained lit. The Parson had to do a deal with OHB: if he went into the bottle, he'd get two hours out each night for good behaviour.

Deal done, in he went, on went the top and into the pool went the bottle.

Entirely against type, OHB kept his word and only popped out for a bit of local-bothering and maid-worrying for two hours each night.

Just to be sure, fishing was banned in the pool.

A ghostly one-handed figure rising above a pond.

In the end it wasn't OHB that bought the Hall down (despite his tendency to ruin fashionable dinner parties) but a murder:

Sir Edward Boughton's son was murdered (maybe) by his brother-in-law who hung for his (?) crime.

Lawford Hall was sold and destined for demolition.

OHB was not chuffed and set about scaring the workman witless. Declaring the deal null and void, he caused maximum trouble until his bottle was fished out of the pool and put on display in Rugby. It was said to contain a "ghostly substance".

All was quiet until...

The bottle moved to Brownsover Hall with what remained of the family and OHB returned to his two hours of riot running. During WW2, when the Hall was used by the military, many a night watchmen, guard dog and officer were inconvenienced by ghostly goings on.

After the war the place was sold and became a hotel (it still is).

Oddly the new owners didn't want the bottle. They really didn't want it: it was encased in solid concrete and buried deep. OHB's extended, multi-location haunting ended once and for all.

A chest festooned with devilish markings and candles at each corner.