Mary Bolles (1579–1662) was born Mary Witham into a wealthy family at Ledston Hall
Grade I listed former country house in West Yorkshire, now divided into residences., near Castleford in the West Riding of Yorkshire. She survived two husbands, bought the old hall in HeathVillage in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, noted for its ancient common and the number of "mansions" around it. near Wakefield, was uniquely created a baronetess in her own right in 1635, entertained Royalist officers during the English Civil War, and reputedly haunts the environs of her old home.
Mary’s father, William Witham, died when she was 14-years-old. Ten years later a local woman, Mary PannellWoman associated with witchcraft at Ledston Hall in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Died in 1603, and is said to haunt the nearby woods., was accused of having caused his death by witchcraft, and was tried and executed for the crime.
Mary Witham married well; her marriage to Thomas Jobson of Cudworth produced two children, Thomas and Elizabeth. Her second husband was Thomas Bolles of Osberton in Nottinghamshire, by whom she had two daughters, Anne and Mary. Thomas Bolles died in 1635.
Mary bought Heath Hall from the Kaye family[a]It was renamed Old Heath Hall when a new Heath HallCountry mansion on Heath Common, near Wakefield in West Yorkshire was built. in Heath near Wakefield after the death of her second husband, and was created a baronetess in her own right by Charles I in December 1635.
In 1643, during the English Civil War, Wakefield was held by the Royalists. General Goring had defeated Lieutenant-General Fairfax’s Parliamentary army at Seacroft Moor at the end of March. Goring and his senior officers spent an evening in May drinking heavily at Heath Hall, and when summoned to the town’s defence proved incapable against an inferior force led by Fairfax.
After her death on 5 May 1662 Mary’s bowels were interred at Kirkthorpe Church, but her body remained at Heath Hall for five weeks of mourning, for which she left £700 to entertain her “kindred, friends and servants and other persons ordinary and extraordinary”. Her embalmed body was buried at Ledsham ChurchActive Anglican church in Ledsham, West Yorkshire, possibly the oldest extant building in the county. on 16 June, and a life-size effigy, for which she left £400, was erected in the south aisle. Her will left the interest of £500 for poor children in Wakefield and £200 for poor children in Sandal to be bound apprentices.
Dame Mary also left instructions that the room in which she died should be walled up for ever. She was rumoured to have practised the dark arts. The room remained sealed for fifty years, but after it was opened it is claimed that her ghost supposedly walked near Heath Hall until it was “conjured down a hole in the River Calder from which it occasionally emerges.[b]The hole is a particularly deep part of the river below Old Heath Hall that was named Lady Bolles’ pit.
Dame Mary Bolles’ Water Tower
An unusual building associated with Mary Bolles is the Grade II* listed water tower near the ruins of the old hall that she referred to in her will. A natural spring fed into a cistern inside the sandstone tower from which water flowed to power an 18-foot (5 m) water wheel that pumped some of the water to the top of the tower, from where it passed, probably via an overhead, lead-lined conduit, to the Old Hall, where a large storage cistern was housed in a similar building to supply water for the hall. The system may have survived until the 1830s.
|It was renamed Old Heath Hall when a new Heath HallCountry mansion on Heath Common, near Wakefield in West Yorkshire was built.
|The hole is a particularly deep part of the river below Old Heath Hall that was named Lady Bolles’ pit.