Introduction

Hi and welcome to my site.
Cheshire is full of weird and wonderful stories of the supernatural, local heores and the mysterious.
I will take you on a tour as I look deep into the Cheshire that lies underneath the wonderful countryside and find the secrets that still hide there.
What magic and long lost secrets will we find?
So, sit back and enjoy my journey. This is a land of Magic, Knights, Dragons, Wizards, Witches, Boggarts, Murder, Ghosts and Old Forgotten Knowledge.


I would love to hear your stories as well. So if you have anything you would like me to look into and find information out, please let me know.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Crewe's link to the Titanic


The country went into shock when the news of the Titanic hit the press.
On 15th April 1912, this giant passenger liner sunk after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.

Many died but among them was a gentleman from Crewe.

Edward Dodd lived in Crewe all his life and after finishing his apprenticeship in the Railway Works. He signed up with The Whits Star line. He joined the Titanic as Junior 3rd Engineer.

He died at the age of 38yrs and left no descendants and had not married.

There is a plaque in Christ Church in memory of him.
It reads - IN MEMORY OF EDWARD CHARLES DODD, JUNIOR 3rd ENGINEER, WHO PERISHED BY THE FOUNDERING OF THE STEAMSHIP TITANIC IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, APRIL 1912.
THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY THE BRETHEN OF THE FREEMASON'S LODGE, FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES NO 979 CREWE>

Edward's body was never found and I wonder if perhaps he returns to Crewe as one of the ghostly shadows that is occasionly spotted in Crewe town at night.

Bridget Bostock, White Witch of Coppenhall

Nearly every village can tell a tale of an elderly woman, living on their own, perhapes with a pet(like a cat). They were either liked or scared by the rest of the villagers.

Bridget Bostock was well liked and it was alleged she was able to cure all kinds of illnesses and wounds by prayer and her saliva glands. She was a healer and she would lick the wounds of the people who came to her.

Almost everything about her is shrouded in mystery. No one has ever established her official birth or death dates. But some do say she was born during the 17th century and died towards the middle of the 18th century.

She became famous for her healing powers. So famous in fact, that in 1748, the national press carried articles about her exploits. She became a nationwide figure.

At the height of her fame, she had a doorkeeper(like today's doorman) and she was seeing 5 or 6 clients at a time.

She sounds a lovely lady and I am at present trying to find out more information about her. She was a typical old woman, living on her own, who knew about herbs and healing.

Don Kinson's Oak

This legend comes from Coppenhall which is the oldest part of Crewe.

The legend starts with a young man from Crewe, who died at sea during The First World War. His name was Wood (sorry no first name).

After hearing of her son's death, his mother was found drowned in a horse trough adjacent to a tree which was known as Don Kinson's Oak. I dont know if her drowning was a tragic accident or suicide.

Following her death, a raven was seen perched on the rim of the same trough.

People believed that it was the spirit of Mrs Wood. A local grocer didn't believe this and publicly let it known. But soon after he too was found dead in the same trough.

The raven continued to be seen in this area until Canon Reed, then Vicar of Coppenhall's St Michael's church heard about this and called in the Bishop of Chester. They performed an exorcism and the raven wasn't seen again.

It is said that this particular oak is no longer at the site but there are still a few oak trees in the fields of that part of Coppenhall, so perhapes it is still there. The tree was said to be west of Oak Tree Farm, off the junction of Groby road and Warmingham road. This is where a public footpath enters the field.

As of yet, I haven't found out why this tree was called Don Kinson's Oak. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Murder at Tilstone Fearnall

This tale is something of a legend in Tilstone Fearnall at Alpraham, nr Tarporley. In fact many people still believe that the wrong man was hanged. Is this a murder mystery that to this day has never been fully investigated?
I will let you read and draw your own conclusions.
We travel from Cheshire to New Orleans.

The murder of John Bebbington.

During the early hours of Friday 17th April 1857, Thomas Chesters was walking to work. He had taken a short cut across a wheatfield on the grounds of Tilstone Lodge Estate belonging to Edward Corbett.

He saw a body lying in a ditch with a loaded shotgun beside him and he recgonised him as John Bebbington (gamekeeper). Thomas ran to his employer, John Sheen(tenant farmer). They both moved John Bebbeington's body to the nearby house of Mr Hall.

John Sheen then went to inform the Lord of the Manor, Edward Corbett, a senior local police officer and the surgeon John Croxton-Foulkes of Bunbury.
The surgeon examined the body and found he had a large gunshot wound on his leftside.

The following day, John Croxton-Foulkes conducted a full post mortem and found that the gunshot had passed through John Bebbington's left lung and shattered his heart causing instant death.

About 9am, Superintendent Francis McDermott, Constable John Kearns and John Sheen went back to the scene of the murder. They found some clean partridge feathers, some wadding from shotgun cartridges and two sets of footpints. They compared the game keeper's boots and matched one set of prints to him. They followed the other set and they led to Sandy Lane, Alpraham, to the cottage of 47yr old John Blagg. He was a shoemaker and poacher. He was charged with the murder of John Bebbington. They also took away his shotgun and boots.

John Blagg was held in Tarporley lock up overnight before going to Chester Castle.
He claimed he was not guilty.

The trail took place on Friday 7th August 1857 at Chester. From day one, a picture was painted of someone who (as a poacher) hated the gamekeeper.

During the trail, Lord of Alpraham Manor, James Tollemache, ordered the eviction of John Blagg's wife and 4yr old child from their home.
The villagers didnt like John Blagg but cared about how his family were being treated. They told Lord Tollemache that no one would testify against John Blagg and they would threaten anyone who did. Lord Tollemache's responce was harsh, he would evict any of his tenants who didnt obey him.

John Blagg claimed he was innocent and that he had loaned his boots to Henry Edwin Jones, on the day before the muder. Mrs Blagg confirmed this. The police had spoken to Mr Jones but let him go. She claimed the police were only interested in her husband because he was so disliked in the village. She even showed the police the other pair of boots her husband had been wearing.

The trail only lasted 10 hours and John Blagg was found guilty. His execution was set for Friday 28th August 1857.

Immediately after the trail, Thomas Jones (defence solicitor) and Andrew Johnson of Tarporley drew up a petition and sent it to the Home Secretary asking for a reprieve. But the appeal had been doomed to fail as (it was claimed) that Lord Tollemache had already spoken to the Home Secretary and so there was no way John Blagg would ever be set free.

During his time in prison, John Blagg talked to The Deputy Sheriff of Cheshire, Richard Bordessa. Richard Bordessa thought that John Blagg was innocent but John Blagg was hung on Friday 28th August 1857.

Now everything went forgotton for 30yrs. Then a Liverpool Merchant, James Sawers went to New Orleans. It was there that he heard of a startling confession made to the Rector of St Paul's, New Orleans by Henry Edwin Jones, on his deathbed. He had emigrated to Canada after the murder and died there.
He confessed that he had a personnel grudge against John Bebbington.
He had borrowed his boots, murdered him and left the footprints so that John Blagg would get the blame.

Was the wrong man hung?
Did the authorities just blame John Blagg and go for him because he was disliked?
Why did someone else claimed they had done the murder, if they had not?


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ANOTHER MURDER AT TILSTONE LODGE

After reading my tale regarding this murder, I was contacted regarding another murder some 17 years earlier.

Thomas Henshall was murdered in 1840 and he too was the Gamekeeper at the Lodge. Thomas was also shot in his left side and found in a ditch on the ground of the Lodge. His body had been taken away by the police and his body had been laid out by Sarah Sheen.

Shoemaker, John Elson, was the first suspect but it was Thomas Brooks who was tried for the murder. Thomas was found innocent and no one else was arrested or tried for the murder.

Is it possible that two murders could happen in the same way and at the same place, 17 years apart?

William Buckley

This story does extend out of Cheshire (just a little). It goes all the way to Australia but I have included it in my blog because William was a local lad and its a great tale.

William Buckley was born in the late 18th century. He was the son of a Macclesfield farmer. He was a tall man standing at 6ft 5ins. He volunteered for The King's Own Regiment of Foot. He was said to be plucky and brave.
Unfortunaly, William fell in with a bad crowd. He was tried at Chatham accused of attempting to murder The Duke of Kent.
He was found guilty. He was initially put to work on fortifications at Woolwich.
At the age of 23yrs, he was transported to Port Phillip in New South Wales. He travelled on board The Calcutta. He was to labour as a mechanic.
I wonder what had been going through his mind at this point. He had been such a good solider, then the trouble, getting use to goal life and now travelling to another country. In fact, I dont know if he had even been guilty in the first place.

William did not take to this new life and planned his escape early on. With three comrades, they made their escape. One of his friends was shot and killed straight away. William never wanted to be a captive again and when his two friends returned to the settlement, William continued through the wild bush. Days passed but even without food and water, he continued.
Almost dead, he collapsed by the grave of an aborigine chief. The chief's widow visited the grave and was convinced that her husband had returned from the grave in the form of this giant white man.
There was great rejoicing at the village and William was made chief. They were said to be wild and they practised cannablism. Wise move on his part he stayed.
William stayed with the tribe for 32yrs.

In 1835, William was found by the founders of Melbourne. It is said that he only spoke a few words of English but he soon learnt this again.

After the authorities found out who he was, they granted him a free pardon and he acted as interpreter between the natives and the settlers for several years.

Buckley Falls, in Australia, is named after him and three miles from Geelong is a cave which is where he lived.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The clever Friar who outwitted the Devil


This legend takes place in Over. This is an old area in Winsford.

From the 13th century, Over parish was under the jurisdiction of Vale Royal Abbey but for some reason the Devil held a grudge against the monks.

The Devil snatched Over church away, he tore the church from its foundations and flew off with it in his arms. When the monks found out what had happened, they started to pray. A few of them rushed to the Abbey bells, to warn others as to what had happened. The Devil was scared of the holy music and suddenly dropped the church.

The monks watched in horror as their beloved church fell out of the sky. So they prayed to St Chad, to whom the church was dedicated. The church landed safely on the spot where it is now. This is supposly a mile from its former site.
The Devil was of course not happy about this and wanted revenge.

As he wondered how this would happen, he saw a Franciscan monk from Vale Royal Abbey. He was sitting by an old stone cross eating some bread and cheese (imagine Friar Tuck from the Robin Hood legends). Ahhh, thought the Devil, I can trick this monk into giving me his soul.
The monk heard a voice calling to him, "Hows your appetite?"
The monk smiled as he knew it was the Devil. He replied "Promise me whatever I want and my soul will be yours".
"Done" said the Devil and thought this was going to be easy. "I grant you three wishes"
The monk listed his wishes. He wanted good food and wine for the rest of his life. His second wish was for perfect health and good company. His third wish was for one dozen hay bales picked by the Devil from Marton Sands and nowhere else.
The Devil agreed but little did he know that hardly a blade of grass grew here but of course the monk did.

The monk lived a good life and it is said to this day, the Devil is still searching for his hay bales.

Tilstone Fearnall

This beautiful small village near Beeston Castle, has two wonderful ghost stories.
I have yet to pay a visit here but I will soon and take photos and find out more information.
The area is full of history and of course is assosicated with The Civil war, Romans and so much more. I will add more history and tales as I go along.


The Water Mill.

Along the Shropshire Union Canal by Tilstone Lock, there is an old ruined disused water mill.
At some point during 1811 - 1816, the locals broke into this mill and smashed everything.
They hung the miller, his wife and son.

At this moment in time, no evidence can be found to prove a triple murder took place. I will continue to try and trace all names associated with the mill.

But it has been reported that strange things have happened around the mill and some say it is haunted by the miller and his family. Lights have been seen, voices have been heard like screams and strange figures have been seen.
If this is a true tale, why would a family be killed in such a way?




The tall monk.

As you enter Tilstone Fearnall on the main Nantwich - Chester road, there is a dip in the road. At the end of Rookery Lane, there is an area known as Haunted Hollow.

This area is said to have a rather tall ghost. It is a 10ft monk. It is hard to believe about the size of this spirit but there have been regualy sightenings of a monk in this area but of a more normal height.
It is relevant to add that a Saxon Abbey had been close by. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book. A later Benedictine Abbey was founded on the same site in 1093 by Hugh Lupus and dissolved in 1540. This is now Chester Cathedral. But I will write more about Chester Cathedral when I write about other Abby's and religious sites in this area later on.