Uncovering the Reason People Have Refused to Sit In This Chair For 300 Years

By: Ronda Fuller | Last updated: Oct 25, 2023

In a museum nestled in the countryside of North Yorkshire, England, a chair hangs ominously from the wall, evoking a sense of dread and foreboding. The chair appears to be a remnant of macabre days gone by.

It casts a sinister shadow across the floor. Not many know the horror that lies deeper than its seemingly bizarre appearance. It is also the reason why no one is permitted to take a seat on this cursed object. It is a warning to beware of the spirits that still linger inside.

An Innocent-Looking Museum

The Thirsk Museum is located in a remote market town 225 miles north of London. Though it may not be as widely known as a grand institution such as the Science and Natural History museums, its walls carry a trove of artifacts and exhibits that document the town’s history and its inhabitants. 


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One particular item it houses stands out among the rest. It is an object that is a source of fear and unease. The very sight of it fills one with a sense of anxiety and serves as a reminder that the past is not always as benign as it seems.


Sitting Is Prohibited

In a dimly-lit corner of the museum, a wooden chair hangs silently on the wall. It was acquired under strict conditions. The museum made a promise to a local pub landlord that no one would be allowed to sit in it. 


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Such a promise has gone unbroken for more than 40 years. What happens to those who dare to break the rule and take a seat? Read on and be prepared to find out for yourself.

The Cursed Chair

The chair is a seemingly unremarkable piece of oak furniture, but it holds a dark and disturbing history. It is the reason why the chair hangs in a corner, high up on a wall. It not only honors the request made by the landlord who had it donated to the museum, but it is also the museum’s attempt to keep people safe.


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The unsettling story is one that is whispered among those who know. It is a tale of terror and fear that has been passed down through the years. 

It All Started With Busby

A local man named Thomas Busby is inextricably linked with the chair; thus it is called the Busby Stoop Chair. It is also his story that gave the chair a sinister reputation.


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To this day, nobody dares to take a seat on the unassuming wooden chair. The chair is said to bear the weight of Busby’s evil deeds. Those who dare to approach it feel a sense of unease as if the spirits of the past are warning them to stay away.

The Story Of Thirsk

The picturesque market town of Thirsk, nestled in the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England, may seem like a charming destination for tourists visiting the region. The North York Moors, with its heather moorland and popular hiking trails, attract millions of visitors each year. 

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Despite the idyllic setting, this is where the chair’s notoriety began and where the spirits of the past are merely waiting in the shadows until they are awakened.


Thirsk’s Popular Cricketer

The small market town of Thirsk is also known as the birthplace of professional cricketer Thomas Lord. He was born in the town in 1755. Although not highly noted as a player, Lord is immortalized in the sport due to his founding of the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. 

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Also, the place he was born was converted into a public institution. His home now serves as the site of the Thirsk Museum, a place that showcases the rich history of the town and its people.


The History Of Bubsy 

Essentially, the small market town of Thirsk is indeed a charming destination. However, it does have a dark side to its history. At the turn of the 18th century, Thirsk was home to a man named Thomas Busby.

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He was a man with a reputation for excessive alcohol consumption. He also exhibited thuggish behavior and was notorious for his violent streak. His actions cast a dark shadow over the town and its people, leaving a legacy of fear and tension that still lingers to this day. 


A Criminal Mind

The small village of Kirby Wiske, located near Thirsk, is where much of the story unfolds. It is also where the sinister story started. As the legend goes, a man by the name of Daniel Awety, a known criminal, had relocated to the area from Leeds. 

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It was in Thirsk where he found the perfect spot for his nefarious dealings. He made use of the isolated village as a base for his illegal activities.


A Cozy Hideout

Daniel Awety liked the place so much he decided to purchase a farm on a hillock as it provided a good view of the surrounding territory. The spot was chosen by Awety because it was completely isolated.

He wanted to live in an area that was far away from prying eyes. The location also provided a great opportunity for Awety to quietly conduct his criminal operations with very little disturbance. The farm became a hub of illegal activities shrouded in secrecy.


Base Of Operations

The farm was eventually renamed Danotty Hall. It did not function as a farm at all. Awety made sure he converted it to house his criminal activities. The hall became the base for his practice of forgery.

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He also made extensive alterations to the property. He reconstructed and adapted the building to suit his criminal needs. A secret passageway was even created to link the cellar to a hidden room in order for him to continue working while remaining out of sight.


Elizabeth, The Daughter

Though Daniel Awety was a known criminal, it was not well-known that he had a daughter named Elizabeth. She was a very beautiful woman, and Awety was very protective of her. However, Awety could not protect her from the beatings of her heart.

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Elizabeth fell in love with a local named Thomas Busby – the man known for his nastiness and violent temper. Naturally, Awety was none too pleased with his daughter’s choice of partner.


Busby, The Groom

Despite Awety’s disapproval of his daughter Elizabeth’s relationship with Busby, the two eventually got married. Awety had no choice but to accept Busby in the family. As it turns out, Busby and Awety combined their respective businesses and turned it into a lucrative venture.

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Awety’s criminal dealings became a money-making operation. But Busby’s newfound wealth and happiness did nothing to temper his violent streak or drinking habits. Obviously, these didn’t sit well with Awety, leading to a tragic turn of events. 


A Tense Relationship

Though Busby and Awety’s business flourished, their personal relationship was floundering mainly because of Busby’s addiction to alcohol. His volatile temper also worsened. Essentially,  their relationship was constantly strained. 

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Awety’s disdain for his daughter’s husband was growing with each day. Busby’s worsening behavior further exacerbated the tension between them. Awety felt a chill down his spine every time he saw Busby with his daughter. He knew that if their union continued, it could only lead to destruction and despair.


Busby’s Home

Rumors say that Busby owned an inn on the outskirts of Sandhutton. Apparently, the inn was not merely a place where Busby conducted his business,it also served as the residence of Busby and his wife.

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Their home stood just three miles away from both Thirsk and Awety’s base at Danotty Hall. Little did Busby know that it was in his own house that his fate would be determined by Awety himself.


The Night To End All Nights

When Busby returned to the inn one night, he was met with the cold, steely gaze of Awety. The tension between the two men had reached a boiling point, and it was clear that Awety had come to put an end to Busby’s destructive ways.

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Awety refused to stand idly by and watch his daughter be dragged down by a drunken criminal like Busby. With a determination that was both admirable and terrifying, Awety vowed to rescue his daughter from the clutches of this monstrous man.


The Final Clash

Many speculate that the final confrontation between Awety and Busby had been brewing for some time. Their volatile relationship was well-known to the locals, and their frequent clashes were the stuff of legends. 

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But when Awety issued an ultimatum, telling Busby that he should stay away from Awety’s daughter, the tipping point was reached. Busby was consumed by rage. He was also fueled by alcohol.


Pushed Over The Edge

It is believed that Busby had been heavily intoxicated when he returned home on that fateful night. This, coupled with his already volatile state due to his altercation with Awety earlier in the day, made for a dangerous combination. 

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Awety’s demand to have his daughter back was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. But it was not just Awety’s ultimatum that pushed Busby to the brink of madness.


His Favorite Chair

According to the legend, as Awety waited for Busby’s return, he had the audacity to take a seat in Busby’s favorite armchair. This small act of disrespect was enough to send Busby into a frenzied uncontrolled fit of violence. 

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He confronted Awety, and their verbal altercation quickly turned physical. Busby, in his drunken state, grabbed hold of Awety and violently pulled him out of the chair. He then threw Awety out of the inn with brute force. 


The Rage Continued

After being thrown out of the inn, Awety retreated to Danotty Hall. He felt defeated in his attempt to take his daughter away from Busby. But Busby’s anger was far from subsiding. He remained at the inn stewing in his wrath.

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Eventually, he could no longer contain his fury and stormed out of the inn. Driven by an unquenchable need for revenge, he made his way to Danotty Hall to confront Awety one more time. 


Busby’s Revenge

When Busby reached Danotty Hall, it is said that he was consumed by a blind rage driven by his hatred for Awety. Eyewitnesses claim that he found Awety and then brutally attacked and murdered him with a hammer Awety used for counterfeiting.

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In a desperate attempt to conceal the murder, Busby dragged Awety’s body deep into the woods, hoping to bury the evidence. But as the days passed and Awety’s absence became more and more obvious, the villagers grew suspicious.


The Discovery

As concerns for Awety’s safety grew, a search was organized to find him. Eventually, the searchers came across Awety’s bludgeoned body hidden deep in the woods. It was immediately clear to the villagers that this was no accident.

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Everyone knew who was responsible for this heinous act. Busby was quickly arrested and charged with murder. The trial took place in the summer of 1702, and the evidence against Busby was overwhelming.


Busby Was Guilty

The court found Busby guilty of Awety’s murder. It was a heinous crime that carried the death penalty. He was sentenced to public execution by hanging. His body would then be displayed in an iron cage suspended from a gibbet.

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Before his execution, Busby was granted one final wish, a last act of mercy before he faced the consequences of his actions. It is said that he used this final opportunity to reflect on the life he had lived.


Busby’s Chair

Given that this story is based on folklore and not official accounts, there are variations on what might have happened next. However, both versions of the story agree on one thing: Busby’s last wish was to have one last drink at the inn he owned.

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He also wanted to sit in his favorite chair. Some versions say that he was granted this wish, and so he spent his final moments in the company of his loved ones. Other versions suggest that his request was denied.


The Curse

Still, one version of the story claims that after Busby had finished his final drink, he stood up and was ready to be escorted to his execution. However, Busby placed a curse on the chair, thus condemning anyone who dared to sit in it to an imminent death. 

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The villagers trembled at the thought of the curse, thus the chair was locked away in the inn’s attic, never to be used again. But there is another version of the tale, one that is just as chilling and adds to the already eerie atmosphere of the story.


During The Execution

An alternate version of the story deviates slightly from the previous accounts. According to this telling, Busby was drunk and shouted the curse while he was being escorted to his execution. Either way, he clearly did not want anyone to enjoy the chair.

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It seems that if Busby couldn’t enjoy the chair, no one else could either. Busby wanted everyone to suffer the same brutal death that he did. This version of the story emphasizes Busby’s bitterness and desire for revenge, even in his final moments.


The Process Of Execution

Furthermore, the form of execution that Busby was subjected to, known as gibbeting, was considered to be even more terrifying than the hanging itself. The practice of displaying the criminal’s body in a cage was not only a form of punishment but also functioned as a warning to others. 

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It was believed that the criminal’s spirit would never find peace and would continue to haunt the place where they were executed. This belief was particularly true in Busby’s case, as many villagers claimed that his spirit continued to haunt his pub even after his execution.


In Honor Of Busby

Busby’s pub was later renamed the Busby Stoop Inn to honor its notorious owner. The inn also featured Busby’s favorite chair. They made sure it remained untouched and was left precisely where it was even after centuries had passed.

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The new landlord of the inn also felt it was his duty to regale customers with the story of Busby’s life and death. Similarly, the chair became a much feared and at the same time, fascinating object in the inn. 


Busby’s Scary Stoop Chair

Busby’s infamous stoop chair is now known by another name – the Dead Man’s Chair. Apparently, the item has been connected to many sudden deaths. It seemed sitting on it carries more danger than any natural or man-made calamity.

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Who knew that an inconspicuous oak seat would be linked to numerous sudden and untimely deaths? Some actually claim that the chair has been responsible for a total of sixty lives lost.


The Chair’s Victims

One of the chair’s alleged victims was a chimney sweep. In 1894 this man went to the pub to have a friendly drink with his friends. It was a routine gathering at the end of the work day as the group sat down to enjoy each other’s company.

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Still, the chimney sweep ended up sitting in the chair as he enjoyed his drinks. Unfortunately, he had one too many beverages, and he became inebriated. As a result, he passed out on his way home and was seen unconscious on the street the next day.


The Truth Revealed After Two Decades

The body of the chimney sweep was later seen hanging from a post that was located near the area where Busby was also hanged. Initially, many thought that the man had committed suicide. 

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However, this was not the case. As it turns out, the friend he was drinking with during that night revealed the truth after two decades. According to the friend, it was he who mugged and killed the chimney sweep.


Brave Canadian Pilots

Situated a mere mile from the famous Busby’s Stoop Inn was the Skipton-on-Swale aerodrome. During the Second World War, the airfield was fully operational. It also saw a slew of Canadian pilots swarm the pub for drinks and relaxation.

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There are moments when these pilots were filled with liquid courage and so attempted to dare one another to sit in the cursed Busby chair.


Failed Mission

It has been said that those pilots who accepted the challenge to sit in Busby’s chair were not able to return from their mission. Though some believe that such a detail was not at all unusual given the inherent dangers brought by the war, many attribute the deaths to the curse Busby placed on the chair.

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A similar situation was seen among the Royal Airforce Servicemen who experienced an untimely demise due to their association with the chair.


A Skeptic Believes

As the 1970s dawned, the Busby Stoop Inn was owned by a former skeptic named Tony Earnshaw. The landlord hadn’t been at all bothered by the legend of the cursed chair and its ability to bring misfortune to anyone who sat in it.

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Throughout the years, the inn had seen several deaths that were perceived to be associated with the furniture. But Tony had dismissed them as unfortunate coincidences. That was until he had witnessed some bizarre occurrences himself. 


The Chair Strikes Again

A few years prior, Earnshaw had eavesdropped on a conversation between two RAF servicemen who were goading each other into taking a seat on the dreaded chair. After both of the men sat on the chair, they left the pub to back to their airfield. 

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The car they were driving in veered off the road and hit a tree on their way back to the airfield. Both men passed away on their way to the hospital. The incident left a deep impact on Earnshaw.


Seeing Is Believing

Though such situations can be considered coincidences, it is still disturbing. Earnshaw was somehow still doubtful of the supposed magical powers of the Busby chair, but the incidents he would witness in the coming days were about to change his mind.

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When a few workmen entered the inn to have lunch, a laborer was goaded to sit in the chair by his workmates. So he did. When everyone went back to work, the laborer fell through the roof, and his head smashed into the concrete. He died later on.


Hiding The Chair

Earnshaw was finally convinced of the chair’s powers when the cleaner of the pub accidentally landed on the notorious chair after she tripped. Shortly after, the cleaner fell ill and unfortunately passed away.

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Earnshaw finally decided to take no more chances with the chair. He placed it in the cellar to avoid anyone inadvertently sitting on it. Still, legends say that a delivery man who sat in it to briefly rest while delivering a shipment died in a car wreck a few hours later.


Safe In The Museum

In 1978, Earnshaw finally decided to donate the creepy chair to the Thirsk Museum. Since then, it has been on display and away from people who might intentionally or unintentionally sit in it. 

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However, despite the chair being too far from the pub to cause danger, many claim that the pub Busby owned is actually haunted. A few have seen a ghostly apparition near the site where Busby was executed. Is it possible that it could be Thomas Busby’s ghost?


Are You Willing To Take A Chance?

We may never definitively know if the chair was indeed cursed or if the reported deaths were mere coincidences. For example, World War II pilots had a very high risk of dying in service, so the incidence of the two airmen who died may have been coincidental.

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Also, the accidents that occurred after people sat in the chair may be freak accidents. However, would you be willing to prove the chair wrong and sit in it? Do you want to take a chance and risk your life?