Monday, December 29, 2014

Busby's Stoop Chair

In the late 17th century a counterfeiter of currency named Daniel Awety (sometimes Auty) moved to the small town of Kirkby Wiske which is located along the River Wiske a little north west of Thirsk in North Yorkshire, England.

It was a much quieter location for Awety to conduct his illicit trade of faking currency or shortening it. He purchased an old farm which he converted to something more suitable to his needs – he built a large, hidden underground room and installed a very robust locking mechanism so unexpected visitors could not catch him at his work. He renamed the farm Danotty Hall.

Awety had a daughter named Elizabeth and a local man by the name of Thomas Busby fell in love with her. The two were married, a marriage of which Daniel Awety was not too keen on but what was he to do? Soon he and Busby became partners in the counterfeiting game which no doubt proved to be a trying relationship as Busby was a bit of a drunk.  Busby and Elizabeth took up lodgings in the local Inn a little ways down the road from Dannotty Hall which was no doubt a perfect home for the ale swilling Busby but soon (as with all stories of this ilk) things went bad.

For reasons that we shall never know about Daniel Awety, Elizabeths father came to the inn to drag her home and away from Busby for good. She refused to budge till Busby got home from wherever he happened to be at the time. They sat in the inn and waited until a very drunk Busby arrived home. The two men broke into an argument of quite large proportions. Awety did not want his daughter to be married or otherwise associated with a drunkard. Well that's what he was arguing about

The drunken Busby was arguing about something else all together... Awety had been sitting in his favourite chair! Sometime during the argument Awety left back for Danotty Hall (without his daughter) but busby was fuming. Later that night he made the three mile trek to the hall where he bludgeoned Awety to death with one of the counterfeiting hammers. Awety's body was eventually found and Busby was charged, trialled and found guilty of the murder. In 1702 he was hanged. After he was dead he was cut down, dipped in pitch and hanged from a gibbet.

However as he was led to his execution Busby cursed all people to death who would take a seat in his favourite chair. After the execution the inn was renamed the 'Busby Stoop Inn'. The owner of the inn, a known money spinner, told all who visited about the chair, still standing in the place Busby liked to sit. It proved to be quite an attraction as something as morbid as an execution and a cursed chair will have been quite a talked about topic in those days

It is said a great many people who have dared to sit in the chair have inexplicable died very soon after. In more recent times (post WWII) a young builders apprentice died soon after having lunch at the inn. His workmates dared him to sit in the chair, which he did. Later that day he fell through a roof and died.

A delivery man sat in the chair while it was stored away in the cellar (that generations landlord was sick of the deaths it was causing) after enquiring about the legend. He died in a car crash that evening when he lost control of his car and it crashed killing him sometime later. Many airmen from the nearby airfield lost their lives after having sat in the chair. It was said all who did would not return home from the war.

Strangest of all was a chimney sweep who sat in the chair one evening hitting the drink. He left at some hour of the night/morning but did not get far. He was found hanging from a gatepost next to the mock Busby Gibbet located next to the inn.  Even well into the seventies the locals were fearful of the curse. Soon the inn would be free of the chairs terrors but it would take two more deaths. Two young airmen sat in the inn one night daring each other to sit in the chair. Eventually one of them caved in and placed his backside on the chair for just a second. On their way back to the field they both died in a traffic accident.

The publican who had had enough took the chair to the local museum and told them to display it up high and to never allow anyone to sit in it... ever!

To this day the chair is mounted high up on the wall of the Thirsk Museum and no one has been allowed to sit in it, no matter how much they offer for the thrill.

However all of this may turn out to be a little dubious. A test of the chair revealed it is not even close to being as old as it says it is. Maybe it was not the chair so much that Busby cursed, a chair is a chair but the location overlooking the main room of the inn was prime.

I'm not sure I would be game enough to sit in the chair, legend or not. There is something about this story, this legend that makes me not want to take the risk. Who knows what the truth in the matter is but I am not one to tempt bad things to come my way.

Busby himself has been seen about the inn on occasion taking the form of a dark shadow on the upper floor landings.


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