A Corrupt Execution That Resulted In The Terrifying Story Of The Screaming Skulls Of Calgarth

In the 16th century, a wealthy landowner in the English Lake District had an innocent couple executed so he could acquire their land, this was a terrible deed that he would later live to regret.

Screaming skulls of Calgarth
The tale of the screaming skulls of Calgarth is still prominent in English history

During the 16th century, a wealthy man by the name of Myles Phillipson owned huge tracts of the picturesque English Lake District countryside around Windermere. Although his wealth was immense he was never satisfied with the size of his empire, always relentlessly seeking land and properties to add to his estates.

He eyed the small farm of Kraster and Dorothy Cook which looked over the magnificent lake. Phillipson decided that their humble plot of land would be the ideal site for the new luxurious mansion that he planned to build.

The farm was all the Cooks had in the world, and they were not prepared to sell when Phillipson made them an offer. He was not a man to take no for an answer. He invited the poor couple over to his home to share Christmas dinner with him and his family. Both Kraster and Dorothy were awed by the expensive wines and luxury food that they were served, they were overjoyed when Phillipson told them that they could keep an impressive golden bowl that they had both admired during the visit.

The very next morning, the Cooks were awoken by soldiers hammering at the door of their home, both of them were arrested.

For a week they were held in separate cells, neither with any idea of why they were being imprisoned. It wasn't until they arrived in court did they learn of their "crime" - they were charged with stealing a golden bowl from Myles Phillipson.

The verdict was a foregone conclusion because the magistrate hearing the case was Phillipson himself. He sentenced both Kraster and Dorothy Cook to death for their act of theft.

Screaming skulls of Calgarth
The impressive Calgarth Park estate as it stands today

When Phillipson read out the verdict, Dorothy Cook cried out: "Look out for yourself, you will never prosper. The time will come when you own no land. You will never be rid of us..."

Phillipson was not concerned by the threats of the condemned woman and the couple were hustled to the gallows and strung up to die.

Within a few days, Phillipson had acquired their land and the work began constructing his magnificent new home, called Calgarth Hall. When it was finished he held a lavish Christmas party. Family and wealthy friends and neighbours joined him around the table, making merry with no expense spared.

Then out of nowhere, a terrifying scream sent them rushing upstairs, weapons at the ready. Phillipson's wife was stood halfway up the staircase, trembling as she stared, transfixed at a hideous sight on the bannister - two grinning skulls.

Phillipson quickly seized the skulls before throwing them into the courtyard, he swore revenge on whoever had perpetrated the tasteless joke.

His threats of revenge failed to put the minds of his guests at rest. Several shuffled off to bed early, only to be woken in the small hours by more piercing screams. The skulls were back on the stairs.

Phillipson spent the next few days trying everything he could think of to rid the home of the skulls, but each time they were thrown outside or buried, the skulls returned to haunt the home.

Christmas was ruined, and before long so was Phillipson, news spread and soon his business declined and his riches quickly dwindled.

When he died, he was a broken man, his beautiful home rang all night with the demonic laughter of the skulls. The two gruesome relics continued to visit the hall, giving the landowner's heirs no rest. The skulls would appear each Christmas Day and on the anniversary of the Cooks' execution. Only when the family could no longer afford to maintain Calgarth and were forced to sell it did the skulls leave the building in peace.

The last reported sighting of the screaming skulls was in 1705 and once the last member of the Phillipson family departed, they were never seen again.

A fascinating ghost story that still lives on in the Lake District to this day. Now you have read this story, make sure you check out the true story of the Black Eyed Child of Cannock Chase.


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