Everyone loves a spine tingling ghost story to put them in the mood for Christmas. The Westmorland Gazette visited Levens Hall and learned of a haunting that has been going on for generations. Sightings of a mysterious spectre — the notorious Grey Lady — have been reported for many years and the apparition continues to disturb visitors to the hall. Reporter Emma Lidiard investigates

Legend has it that at the beginning of the 18th century a starving gipsy woman called at Levens Hall pleading for food and seeking shelter from the harsh, bitter cold.

She was turned away and it is said that with her last dying breath she shrieked a curse: “No son will inherit the hall until the River Kent doesn’t flow any more and a white fawn is born in the park.”

At that time Levens Hall had a herd of Black Norwegian fallow deer. It was nearly two centuries later, in 1896, that Alan Desmond Bagot was born at a time when the River Kent froze and a little white fawn was born to the herd.

He was the first boy to be born at Levens Hall since the curse was uttered.

“The fawn's ears have been kept in a scrapbook,” said Hal Bagot, owner of Levens Hall. “Someone obviously felt at the time that it was of some importance as they must have gone to quite a lot of effort to keep the white fawn's ear.

“Strangely all the male heirs born since that date have only been born when it's freezing. When my son was born on December 12 the River Kent was frozen over which is quite an early time of the year for the river to do that. Also there was a white fawn in the park at that time”

Although Mr Bagot says he has not had any supernatural contact, he says many adult guests refuse to sleep in certain rooms at the hall due to feeling the presence of a ghost.

“My mother-in-law said she was driving along the path in the grounds of the hall and saw a lady walking along,” said Mr Bagot. “She was turning a corner and thought she would be able to see who it was on the other side but when she got there the person had disappeared.

“Later she asked my wife who had been here and my wife said: ‘No-one all day’.”

The ghost of the ‘Grey Lady’ gipsy has been seen by many of the Bagot family wandering around the grounds. It has mainly been seen on the bridge over the River Kent and also roaming the corridors inside the hall.

Apart from sightings by the family, on several occasions the Bagots have heard the screeching of tyres as motorists brake heavily outside their home.

When the family has gone out to investigate, drivers have told them that they had taken evasive action because they had seen a figure come out in front of their vehicle. But once they had stopped, mysteriously there is nobody there.

“I have never had any experiences myself - I don't think I'm built that way,” said Mr Bagot. “But there has been lots of ghost related incidents being linked with this hall.”