Spooky goings on for Halloween at Gunby Hall

'And one an English home, gray twilight pour’d on dewy pastures, dewy trees Softer than sleep – all things in order stored, A haunt of ancient peace' - Alfred Lord Tennyson, 'The Palace of Art' 1832

On the pumpkin trail at Gunby Hall - Logan and Sophie Duffy of Skegness.

Tennyson's words were never truer on Halloween, when Gunby Hall opened its gates for the pumpkin trail.

Even though the historic National Trust house built in 1700 was closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, the grounds offered lots of fun with around 30 pumpkins that had been decorated by staff hidden for children to find.

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It was the perfect setting for families to enjoy a spooky atmosphere - especially for the families who went along in fancy dress and were pretty scary themselves ..

Boo! - Robert Wilson of West Ashby, the membership and retail assistant at Gunby Hall.

Gunby Hall is allegedly haunted, and the sightings have been linked with rumours of a brutal murder that occurred during the residency of Sir William Massingberd', whose family lived at the hall until 1967.

Legend tells that Sir William discovered that his daughter was about to run away with one of the servants, a postillion. On the night the lovers intended to flee, Sir William hid in waiting and shot the postillion dead.

The servant's body was dragged through the grounds and thrown into the pond. Some accounts say that Sir William was so enraged he shot his daughter dead as well.

Soon locals were whispering that Gunby Hall was cursed and the ghostly form of the murdered servant has been seen haunting the path by the pond, eternally waiting for his lover.

Liam Shield, 5, of Lincoln, was pretty scary too. He went along with his nan, Denise Tinkler of Alford.

On Saturday, the grounds were naturally spooky, surrounded by light rain and mist, with wind howling through the golden leaves of the trees.

One hundred people had booked to go on the pumpkin trail that day, all socially distanced along the one-way route which led to the cafe, where eerie music played in the sheltered area and visitors were welcomed by the 'ghoulish' staff .

Astrid Gatenby, Visitor Experience and Volunteering Manager, said it was always a fun time of year. "This year because of Covid-19 we haven't been able to open the house, which is always especially spooky for|Halloween," she said.

"However, the pumpkin trail has been popular, although we have had to limit numbers and work within the Covid-19 restrictions.

Found another pumpkin! - Denise Tinkler of Alford with her grandson, Joel Shield, aged two.

"The new graveled car park and path has made a massive difference to us though because, with the rain, we would have previously had to close because it would have been too muddy for the cars.

"It would also have normally meant this would have been our last weekend of the year, but we are now staying open until December 20, with a break for Christmas and New Year, and then we will open again."

Among the staff offering a spooky welcome was Robert Wilson, who comes from West Ashby.

Before the opening came up as membership and retail assistant he worked at Tattershall Castle. "It is a shame the house has to be closed and the focus is just outdoors.but there is always such colour in the gardens, which coming from Yorkshire where it is quite bleak I always love," he said.

Offering a helping hand - Astrid Gatenby, Visitor Experience and Volunteering Manager at Gunby Hall.

Those brave enough to take shelter in the cafe in spite of the spooky noises were greeted by Nigel Hodges, the food and beverage assistant. "Halloween is a favourite time of year for us," said Nigel of Wrangle, who started out at Gunby Hall as a volunteer.

"Normally Halloween marks the end of our year, so we are very excited to be staying open."

Liam and Joel Shield of Lincoln were there with their nan, Denise Tinkler, from Alford. "This is one of my favourite places and we are having lots of fun," commented Denise.

Victoria Lock of Louth was there with son, Tom and Shane Leeman. "We saw this was on and wanted to do something for Halloween as it's difficult to go trick or treating at the moment," Victoria explained.

* The article was written before the announcement of the further national lockdown. It was hoped visitors could look forward to a new Peter Rabbit winter adventure activity trail at Gunby Hall. starting on November 25, which will now be delayed. Gunby is the smallest of the National Trust houses to get the trail. When it opens, visitors can end a hand to some of Beatrix Potter’s well-loved characters such as Squirrel Nutkin, Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Jemima Puddleduck, and solve the clues to earn a special trail badge and certificate. The Hall grounds will also be decorated on run-up to Christmas.

Spooky costumes - Victoria and Tom Locke with Shane Leeman had travelled from near Louth to hit the pumpkin trail.
Food and beverage assistant Nigel Hodges of Wrangle has plans for this pumpkin.