Sadly, many popular legends are now disappearing from our landscape, but a new book aims to preserve some of Lancashire's most famous tales. Bygones has been given exclusive access to the Illustrated Tales of Lancashire and will publish five such legends over the coming weeks. Here is the second in the series, Bearnshaw Tower and Lady Sybil.

BEARNSHAW Tower was a small fortified house built in one of the ravines branching off from the great gorge of Cliviger, around 5 miles from Burnley.

The original foundations of the house can still be seen near to the Eagle’s Crag. The owner of the house was an heiress, celebrated both for her wealth and stunning beauty.

She could often be seen at Eagle’s Crag studying nature and generally admiring the surrounding countryside. It was during her visits to the area that she dearly wished to possess supernatural powers, so that she could join in the nightly rituals and practices with the Lancashire witches.

Then, almost without thinking, she was persuaded to sell her soul to the Devil in order to fulfil her dream. The bond was duly sealed with her blood, and she entered into a completely different world.

At that time Lord William, who resided in the nearby Hapton Tower, wished for the hand of Lady Sybil of Bearnshaw Tower, but his proposals were never successful.

In desperation he resorted to securing the powers of one of the most famous of the Lancashire witches, Mother Helston. Following many spells and incantations, she declared that he would meet with success on the next All Hallows’ Eve.

On the day specified Lord William went out hunting, according to the witch’s directions. It was as he approached Eagle’s Crag that he spotted a milk-white doe and his dogs immediately gave chase. They covered many miles in the immediate vicinity until, exhausted, they returned to the crag.

It was upon their return that Lord William noticed they’d been joined by a strange hound, but it was one that he knew very well; it was the familiar of Mother Helston.

The hound had been sent to capture Lady Sybil, who was disguised as the white doe. In hot pursuit of the doe, Lord William’s horse missed its footing and almost threw him into the abyss.

Then, just as the doe was heading towards safety, the strange hound seized the doe by the throat, holding her fast. Lord William then took charge of the situation, securing a silken leash around the doe’s neck.

He then, triumphantly, led her back to Hapton Tower. But all was not well. During a particularly stormy night, Hapton Tower was shaken by an earthquake.

In the morning, the heiress of Bearnshaw Tower had taken the place of the captured doe.

Over the coming weeks there was much frenzied activity. Lady Sybil’s powers of witchcraft were suspended, and in the fullness of time Lord William married his bride.

But, less than a year later, Lady Sybil had reverted to her former debauched practices. On this occasion she had been transformed into a beautiful white cat and was enjoying activities in Cliviger Mill.

The miller Giles Robinson had sent his manservant Robin to watch over the mill during the hours of darkness. Upon seeing the cat, Robin had promptly cut off one of its paws.

The very next morning Lady Sybil lay in bed, very poorly. Later in the day, Robin appeared at the tower carrying the lady’s hand.

The mystery of her sudden indisposition was soon answered. Lord William was furious when he realised just what had been happening, but taking a pragmatic approach he once again enlisted outside assistance and Lady Sybil’s hand was rejoined to her arm.

There remained, however, a deep red ring around her wrist where Robin’s sharp knife had caused the severance. Over time they reconciled, but Lady Sybil’s health was now beginning to decline and she was soon nearing death.

Seeking clerical assistance, Lord William was able to cancel the Devil’s bond before she died. Lady Sybil died in peace, but Bearnshaw Tower has remained deserted ever since.

Locally, it is still said that on All Hallows’ Eve the hound and the milk-white doe can be seen on Eagle Crag.