Mary Pannal is a local legend for me and is literally a 5 minutes drive away from where I live. Over the years I have spoken to numerous people who have spoken of encounters with Mary’s ghost and its one ghost story that really grips me.
Mary Pannal Hill is close to the village of Ledston and Kippax close to the town of Castleford, West Yorkshire.
Back in March 2019 myself and Louise made the trip to Mary Pannal Hill to have a look around. It is a small copse of trees and I have to admit it is quite eerie.
Before we went up there we spoke with some of the locals in the village about the legend, they were keen to talk about it and encouraged us to go up there. The spelling of her married name was possibly Pannell and she may have been born Marye Tailer. In the Kippax Parish Registers an entry for the year 1558 shows John Pannell & Marye Tailer.
The story of Mary Pannal can differ on who you talk to, some say she worked as a maid at the near by Ledston Hall, others say she worked as a healer and lived in a hut in the village and some claim she was just a herbalist.
The story goes that a young boy named William Witham was brought to her in 1593 with an illness, Mary concocted a herbal liniment which was intended to be applied to the boy’s skin. However the boy was made to drink the brew, some say he refused and died, some say he did and was poisoned and died. Mary was accused of his murder and witchcraft.
This is where it gets confusing. This apparently happened in 1593 but she did not have her execution till after trial and conviction till 1603. The story of her execution differs too, some say she was hung in York and her body brought to the hill to be burnt, others say she was burnt at the stake alive on the hill itself. However this might be worth noting, witches were never burnt at the stake in England, they were hung, in Scotland they were indeed burnt alive.
Her ghost is said still to reside in the area and often seen leading a horse, the story goes if anyone has seen her that a death will occur in the family.
Eye witness reports today are plentiful and common place throughout the locals. I’ve spoken to a handful of people who have claimed to experience strange goings on near the hill. Some say they have seen the ghostly figure of a woman walking on the road or by the hill. There are plenty of reports of cars mysteriously breaking down in the area of the hill too and local police joke it’s Mary that has done it. Anyone who dares to go up to the hill will experience the strange atmosphere here and the definite feeling of being watched, satanic symbols have also been seen carved into the trees here.
Whatever the real story is behind the legend, many locals around Ledston and Castleford have many a tale to tell about Mary and the hill. Does she still wander the area unable to rest in peace?, You decide.
Does anybody have any tales of Mary Pannal Hill or other encounters in Yorkshire with witches or witchcraft? If so please let us know in the comments