While searching around for reports for the Mystery Animals of Lancashire book I came across a tale of a most terrible apparition that is said to haunt the lanes of the delightfully named hamlet of Crank. While some areas are subject to the prowling of mystery big cats and others suffer the paw prints of phantom hounds Crank on the other hand gets a white rabbit. Not a giant talking rabbit but a vengeful doom-foretelling bunny.
Like many a phantom dog this zooform has its own legendary foundation. The story goes that way back in the 17th century there was a nameless old woman who occupied a hovel within the hamlet of Crank which she shared with her daughter Jenny and Jenny’s pet rabbit. Fitting for the time the old woman was soon branded a witch by a neighbouring farmer by the name of Pullen who was convinced that he had been bewitched by her. Local belief had it that by drawing blood from the witch the spell would be broken and it was to this end that Pullen and his accomplice Dick Piers broke into the old woman’s cottage. Rather clumsily they awoke Jenny with the racket as they attempted to cut the old woman’s arm, not wanting to hang around Jenny ran off into the night taking her rabbit with her. She was pursued by Piers and while she managed to evade capture she succumbed to exhaustion and was found dead in the chapel. Her white rabbit didn’t fare much better as it was beaten to death. Of course just because you’ve beaten the bunny to pulp it doesn’t mean that it won’t come after you.
It was only a month later when the white rabbit appeared and started to follow Piers around the hamlet eventually being held responsible for driving him to commit suicide in Billinge Hill quarry. But the vengeful bunny wasn’t finished there as it now set about hounding Pullen who was to be seen being pursued across the fields until he died frightened and exhausted by the chase.
While the white rabbit may not be a headless hell hound it is still rumoured to haunt the area foretelling doom upon its sighting, but I wonder if this particular zooform has really anything to do with the little old lady or if she was just an invention to explain the presence of the ghostly white rabbit.