Haunted Preston: Lancashire Infantry Museum
Chilling tales and cheeky spirits in this 19th Century building...
Fulwood Barracks were built in 1848 and house the Lancashire Infantry Museum...as well as many spine-chilling stories. The building is the premier regimental research centre in the north of England, however, it houses much more than just collections behind its walls. The building is known for at least three of its ghosts, not taking into account the Roman soldiers said to be seen walking the path of the old Roman road right through the middle of the parade square, only visible from their waist up.
At the entrance to Fulwood Barracks, above the archway, is the Garrison Chapel. The chapel is the second oldest still in use in the British Army. The women who used to clean the chapel would often speak of a friendly presence, though sometimes it could be quite mischievous. The women would find that cleaning materials would mysteriously move around the chapel overnight. On one occasion a brass pot was flung across the room by an unseen force, resulting in a visible dent on its surface.
When people have spied this spirit it is mainly stood near the pulpit to the right of the altar. This spot also caused some spooky activity when a TV crew came to film a piece about ghosts. The crew would find, whenever they tried to film the pulpit, that their camera would inexplicably stop filming. On one occasion, whilst panning towards the pulpit, the camera turned itself off and swung its lens away from this area. Once the lens was no longer pointing at this mysterious spot, the camera would happily start working again. Clearly this cheeky spirit doesn't want to be caught on camera.
Private McCaffery was aged just 19 whilst he was serving at Fulwood Barracks in 1861. He was serving under the command of Colonel Hugh Crofton. The Adjutant - the officer who assisted Crofton with unit administration - was Captain John Hanhan. Hanham was domineering and a strict disciplinarian, even Crofton seemed to be under his influence. McCaffery was an indifferent soldier and a loner and would usually get into trouble with Hanham.
On Friday 13 September, McCaffery was on sentry duty outside the officers' quarters. Hanham ordered the young soldier to take the names of some children who were suspected of breaking windows. McCaffery failed to get the names of all the children, resulting in Crofton sentencing him to be confined to the barracks for 14 days.
Later that morning Crofton and Hanham were walking across the Infantry Square. McCaffery spotted the two officers, loaded his rifle, and shot at them. A bullet pierced Crofton's right breast and passed through into Hanham's arm, entering his breast and lodging in his spine. Crofton died at 11pm that night and Hanham followed on the following Monday.
McCaffery was sentenced to hanging in Liverpool. The last words he uttered were "Blessed Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and soul. Jesus and Mary, have mercy on me!"
Many generations believe McCaffery's ghost still haunts the Barracks and, to this day, his spirit is blamed for unexplained happenings and sudden noises.
The spirit of the Old Officer's Mess
Inside Block 57 you'll find the Old Officer's Mess, an area where officers once ate and socialised. This is where a prominent presence is felt. The first account of this spirit was recorded before World War I, appearing in 'The Lancashire Lad' and then the journal of the Old East Lancashire Regiment (30th Foot).
"By eleven o’clock, when I was tucked away in bed, a heavy gale raged (and, incidentally, much damage was done to public buildings in Preston), and I was forced to get up and close the shutters to deaden the noise of the wind and clattering of the windows.
"Then I went off to sleep, to be awakened by what sounded like a loud clap of thunder. I was so awake that I sat up in bed to get a better idea of how the storm was progressing, and my eyes travelled over the darkness of the room, to be arrested by what appeared to be a phosphorescent figure standing between the foot of my bed and the fireplace. I looked hard, and there it certainly was. It seemed to be wearing some kind of belt, and with a gasp of surprise I sank back on my pillow still watching, and before my eyes the figure gradually faded away.
"As might be expected, I was badly ragged when the story got around the next day, but I think that the consensus of opinion was with me in that I had seen “something,” and Lieut. Harrison, of the Loyals, after a very prolonged sitting over dinner was dared to take my place in my quarter on that night following, and accepted, and, of course, slept like a log.
"The little local excitement died down, and was not revived for me until one day about three weeks later, when Lieut. Walmsley, of the Loyals (T.A.), who was also attached for training returned from a trip to Accrington. He related to me that there he had met a senior officer in the Territorials, and in the ordinary course of conversation Lieut. Walmsley remarked that he was doing a course at Fulwood Barracks. Thereupon his friend announced that he also had been at Fulwood for two years during the Boer War, that he had occupied quarters in a room, with a marble mantelpiece, on the ground floor next door to the Mess, and that on occasions he had seen “something” in that room. A strange coincidence.
“Afterwards, of course, in about 1911 or 1912, there was the incident of Lieut. James, then lately posted to the Depot from the 59th in India, and when returning by night from “visiting rounds” drawing his sword and having a cut at a “something” standing in the passage above my old quarter.
“Soon after my strange experience I left Fulwood Barracks, but I understood that the distinguished veteran Chaplain, the Rev. Smith, of Zulu War fame, who in those days lived just outside the Barrack gate, interested himself in the matter, got into touch with the Psychical Society in London, and said prayers in my room".
Paranormal events in Preston
There are a variety of paranormal events to keep you spooked throughout the year, including clairvoyant evenings at Samlesbury Hall and ghost tours at Hoghton Tower.
To see what's on in Preston check out our What's on calendar.
Map address for Lancashire Infantry Museum
Lancashire Infantry Museum, Fulwood Barracks, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 8AA.