The Silky of Denton Hall has a similar story to that of the apparition at Black Heddon. According to Tomlinson in 1894, Denton Hall had at that time been haunted by Silky, or ‘Old Barberry’ as the spirit was also known for nearly a century. According to legend, the first appearance of Silky coincided with Mr. William Thomas being tenant of the Hall. Thomas had two domestic servants, sisters named Ruth and Hannah Bell, and one night one of the sisters dreamed that there was a huge sum of money buried under a specific flagstone in the Hall’s entrance hall. The next morning, she told her sister, who then told Thomas – who had the stone raised and found a wealth of treasure.
Soon afterwards, Silky made her first appearance, a ghostly apparition in a glowing white silk dress, who seemingly went about her ghostly business searching for her lost treasures…
She was often seen in the grounds, wearing a straw-hat, and often scared children away from the apple trees! She was also seen by a number of visitors to the hall, moving from room to room with the sound of swishing silk. At one point, it is stated that she noiselessly threw open the door of a bedroom and moved into the middle of the room with a ‘warning arm extended’.
This ‘warning’ element seems to be a running theme with the Silky of Denton Hall. Many a pitman, according to Tomlinson, was warning of impending danger in the mines by Silky, and a death in the family of the Denton Hall tenants was often accompanied by a sudden appearance of the apparition.
Though many of her sightings were within a certain bedroom in the Hall, she was by no means bound there. Seen flitting about the passages, and up and down the stone stairwells, she’s also been known to bar folks’ entrance to certain rooms, and one report tells of her grabbing the hand of a sleeping inmate in the house, leaving a mark that pained that person for days.
Silky’s passage was also often accompanied by unearthly sounds and cries, and in 1884, the occupants of the Hall reported the sound of her dragging something through two unoccupied rooms , down a flight of stairs and to a window, which they witnessed being thrown open…
– Originally published as an article in Otherworld North East: Ghosts and Hauntings Explored (Author: Tony Liddell, Publisher: Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2004)