Visit Haunted Inns, Pubs, and Hotels in Allerdale

Overwater Hall

Overwater, Nr Ireby

Joseph Gillbanks, born 1780, set himself up as a merchant trading from Jamaica, and made himself a fortune. He married the niece of the Chief Justice there but subsequently he began an affair with a poor black girl on the island. In 1814, he returned from the West Indies with his wife and bought Overwater Hall. Prosperous and genteel, he became a local magistrate, and has his family motto, Honore and Virtute, carved over the entrance of his home. Then the black girl from Jamaica found him, claiming that she had given birth to his child. He took her out in a boat and attempted to drown her. When she made desperate efforts to get back into the boat, he took a sword to her and chopped off her arms. Gilbanks was apparently never pursued for her murder, even though some of the facts had become public knowledge. He died aged 73 in his bed. She, however, is still with us. Since becoming a hotel, guests and staff have reported seeing the ghost of a black girl with no arms. Strangely, a headdress or large bonnet always appears at New Year. Before she manifests, people hear loud tapping on the window from outside. Legend has it that Overwater Tarn never freezes over because, even in the coldest winter, a black hand and arm pushes through to break up the ice. Another, more curious, apparition is a grey terrier dog seen inside the hotel, running pell-mell.