The Ghosts of Motley Hall

“We’ve been reading through this mountain of inanity, boring ourselves senseless.” Not the sort of line you’d expect from a ghost, but this was one of many violent outbursts from the foghorn mouth of General Sir George Uproar (KCMG), self-appointed leader of the Ghosts of Motley Hall.

Between 1976 and 1978 the Ghosts of Motley Hall provided a half hour of phantasmagoric mayhem every Sunday afternoon. Written by Richard Carpenter, who wrote Catweazle several years before, the Ghosts of Motley Hall managed to squeeze a quart into a pint pot with tales of exorcism, headless knights, doppelgängers and malicious mediums.

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Left to right: Matt, Fanny, Sir George, White Lady, Bodkin

But who were the ghosts? Who played them, where are they now (the actors, not the ghosts; we know where they still are.)

Sir George Uproar, the 19th century hellraiser, was realised by Freddie Jones. A blunderbus of a man, Sir George died after falling down the stairs.

Before him came Fanny – Sir Francis Uproar – an 18th century dandy performed by Nicholas Le Prevost. Fanny snuffed it in a duel, his thirteenth, and was the dimmest of the ensemble.

Bodkin, played by Arthur English, was a medieval jester and part of the original household. He became a ghost after his master, Sir Richard Uproar, threw him in a pond and left him to die of pneumonia.

Most mysterious of the spooks was Sheila Steafel’s White Lady. Constantly moaning and groaning she had no memory of who she was in life, although she was mistaken for Lady Matilda Basingstoke. The White Lady was also unique in that she was the only ghost visible to the agent looking after Motley Hall, Mr Gudgin (Peter Sallis).

Matt, the stable boy, was the only ghost who could leave the inside of the hall and wander round the grounds. The actor Sean Flanagan, the youngest member of the cast, died in the early 1980s in a road accident. He was joined by Arthur English who passed away in 1995.

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The unwelcome presence of Old Gory.

I often wondered where the Ghosts of Motley Hall was filmed. Turns out, it was filmed at Borwick Hall near Carnforth in Lancashire. Without knowing it at the time, I walked up to the main entrance about four years ago during a walk along the Lancaster Canal. Dilapidated at the time of filming it’s now an education and conference centre run by Lancaster City Council.

If the Ghosts of Motley Hall did one thing, it was fire my eleven year old mind and those of my mates. One afternoon we came across a pile of stones from a demolished house. Ornate and weathered, one of the stones had a name carved into it: Munster Hall Burnley. Could this be another Motley Hall, haunted and bothered by its own spooks and phantoms? Years later after the arrival of the internet I searched for Munster Hall and found nothing. A house as ghostly as its ethereal occupants.

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Borwick Hall, near Carnforth, used for the external shots around Motley Hall.

All the episodes of the Ghosts of Motley Hall are on Youtube. And even today, nearly forty years after first sitting down to watch it the writing is ingenious, the style not condescending even for a children’s programme, and the acting faultless; how could it be anything else with actors of the calibre of Jones, Steafel and le Prevost.

Give it a try; marvel at 1970s special effects; laugh out loud when Sir George loses his temper with such violence he ends up outside the house and can’t get back in; and be relieved they never tried to make a film version! Some spooks are best left where they are.

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Click the picture below to relive the series on DVD.

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22 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Motley Hall

  1. I was a fan of ghosts of motley hall when younger, I lived near where it was filmed, tho the good people of the village of Borwick may be shocked to find it’s been spirited away 30 or more miles from Borwick nr. Carnforth to Clitheroe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really loved this show, Until I saw it on Youtube I thought I dreamed it, Sean Flanagan I never new he died in a car accident 81, Poor guy, he was just a kid, if anyone knows what happen please message me, And as for white Lady? Does anyone know who she is on the show?

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  3. I love all shows from the 1970’s. Borwick Hall also looks incredible to me. Now, to find me the series somewhere where I don’t have to give up my firstborn in order to watch it! 🙂


  4. I hadn’t heard of this, Christ (because I am so eternally 29) but I must look it up – sounds like valuable research for something I’m writing at the moment, actually, so I must thank you!


              1. Oh, it’s nothing scientific. It’s more to do with seeing how someone else handled certain problems of setting and credibility. And I think the answer is that by ignoring them, they largely go away. 😉


  5. I don’t remember this programme at all, but I suppose being 19 in 1976 I wouldn’t. The programme I remember the most as a kid was ‘The Avengers’, which when I look at it now on Sky unfortunately seems terribly dated and rather silly! Patrick Macnee (who played Steed) died yesterday aged 93. I often wonder what happened to his leading ladies, Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman and Linda Thorson.


    1. Diana Rigg is 77 and still working. (Game of Thrones and Doctor Who in the last couple of years.) Honor Blackman will be 90 this year and is also still working. Linda Thorson doesn’t know the meaning of the word retired either, and she’s 68. Amazing people.

      I remember the Joanne Lumley Avengers series and some of the original episodes, but it was always a bit too eccentric for me. As a kid I preferred The Persuaders and Randall and Hopkirk Deceased.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah yes, The Persuaders, I used to watch that. Remember The Champions? They had extra sensory powers; one had x-ray vision, but I can’t remember what powers the other 2 had. They were detectives.


            1. I remember Alexandra Bastedo more from one of the Morecambe and Wises’ films (That Riviera Touch?) And yes, Avenues and Alleyways by – have to google his name – Tony Christie. I think my parents only watched that to listen to the theme tune.

              Liked by 1 person

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