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.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The Great Fire of Nantwich

We have all heard about The Great Fire of London. But a little closer to home, in Nantwich, it suffered a simular fate.

On the 10th December 1583, a large part of Nantwich was destroyed in flames. It started at 4.15am in the kitchen of Mr Nicholas Brown in High Street. He was brewing ale and set fire to his kitchen. As you can imagine, the fire soon spread.

During the next 15hours, 600 buildings were destroyed. This included homes, outbuildings, shops, inns and stables.

The people of Nantwich ran back and forth from the river fetching water in little leather buckets. They formed a human chain from the river and into the town. Some people tried to pull the burning thatch off the roofs. But most people paniced. Many died, some from getting caught up in the mass panic in the streets, some were burnt to death trying to retrieve their belongings, others died trying to rescue neighbours or friends.

You can imagine the scene, the fire leaping from building to building, smoke and ash everywhere, the sreams of the dying lying on the floor, other people shouting for help and animals let out to save them.

The first recorded death from the fire was Mrs Anne Lovatt. She was part of the human chain fetching water. The wall of a partly burnt building fell on her. She was flattened and burnt to death.

Flames and crashing down buildings were not the only hazzards to watch out for that day. The Landlord of The Bear Inn did keep four bears in his cellar. He kept these for the terrible entertainment of bear baiting. These poor animals were kept on chains and teased by dogs. The landlord released these bears during the fire. These confused and terrified bears ran loose through the town. If the people of Nantwich didnt have enough to deal with, they now had four enormous bears running around and attacking people. A young woman called Maggie Duckworth came across these animals. She ran off screaming and her burnt corpse was found a couple of days later.

Another victim of the fire was an elderly widow named Alice Blagge.

This is known as The Queens Aid house and has a plaque informing us of what Queen Elizabeth did for the town.

Queen Elizabeth 1st heard about the fire and sent £1,000 to help with the rebuilding of the town. She also gave permission for wood to be taken out of Delamere Forest.

The weirdist part of this tale is that on Monday 9th December 1583, every cat in Nantwich left the town in a mass exodus. A few months later, they returned.
Was this a strange case of animals sensing the disaster before it happened?

Churches Mansion is one of the few buildings that survived the fire.

Ghostly Nun in Willaston, Nr Nantwich

Cheshire is full of ghostly sightings of nuns and monks. I will cover the locals Abbeys and Nunnery's in Cheshire later in my blog. But this next tale is a little strange.

In the small hours of October 15th 1987, two women were travelling from Winsford into Crewe. They were travelling on the A530 road. They saw a woman dressed in black standing in a layby next to a Volkswagen beetle car. The girls felt sorry for this lady and believing she had broken down, pulled up next to her.

Once next to her, the girls realised that this woman was dressed as an nun. She looked elderly. The girl's offered the nun a lift. The nun agreed and said she wanted to be dropped off by a slip road before Willaston.

The girls tried to start a conversation with the nun, as they travelled but the nun wasn't the talking type. The girls were even starting to think if this woman was in fact a real nun, afterall it isn't everyday you see a nun dressed in the black robe you always think of. Was she in fancy dress?

All of a sudden, the nun suddenly declared that "there was a terrible storm on the way. It is going to cause terrible damage and kill people".

The two girls looked at eachother, then one of them asked the nun if they were near her turn off yet. As she turned round, she couldnt believe her eyes. The nun had disappeared. The only trace of her left behind was a faint smell if incense.

The girls arrived at their friend's house in Crewe and told her of the strange encounter with the nun and the terrible storm she told them about.

The next day, the girl's telephoned the police about their experience and to report the abandoned Volkswagen beetle on the hard shoulder of the A530. As you can imagine, the police were rather amused with the story but did promise to send someone to look for the car. Nothing was found and no one had been towed.

Later that day, the worst storm to hit Britain for two centuries hit our shores. It killed 19 people and caused £1.5 billion worth of damage. Do you remember Michael Fish told the whole country that there would be no storm and the weather would be calm.

Who was the nun?
How did she know about the storm?
Where was she going and where had she come from?

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Horned Woman of Sauhall, Nr Chester.

The photo above was taken of Mrs Mary Davies in 1668 aged 72 years. And yes, you are seeing hornes growing out of her head.

Mary had lived all her life in Saughall. She married Henry Davies and they lived on a farm. Henry unfortually died and Mary practiced the business of a midwife.

Mary started getting headaches, swelling and soreness in her head. This was put down to wearing a tight hat for so long. This continued for five more years until she noticed two lumps either side of her head. These grew into horns. These fell off and Mr Huson, minister of Shotwick kept them. But two more grew back. An English Lord had one of these horns and gave them to a French King. A third pair grew back and these were given to Sir Willoughby Aston. Now this all started when Mary was sixty years old and over the next twelve years, Mary grew up to four pairs of horns. When the fourth pair grew, Mary was taken to Charing Cross Hospital at London.

At the age of 72 years, Mary's fourth pair of horns came off and were preserved in the Ashmolean and British Museums. She also had thre portraits done. These were kept at Doddington Hall and two at The British Museum.

In London, Mary caused quite a sensation and she is Saughall's most famous inhabitant.

I do not have any details about how, when and where Mary died. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Murder Lane, Hough, Nr Crewe

This country lane in the Hough is known locally as Murder Lane but it is called Back Lane. As you might have guessed, it was the scene of a murder and the ghost of a gentleman without his head is said to walk down this lane.

This gentleman's name was Richard Davies senior. He was a 50 year old and father to eight children. His job was a tailor, draper, property owner and part time bookmaker.
A picture was painted of a quick-tempered and violent husband. He beat his wife and children.

On Saturday January 25th 1890, Mary Davies (wife) and two of her sons - Richard (18yrs) and Arthur (6yrs) were at home, when George (16yrs) came running into the house. He told his mother that two men had attacked both him and his father while they were travelling home on their pony and trap. Mary sent for John (her married son) and he brought his neighbour back with him. With George and Richard, they went to find their father.

The body of Richard Davies snr, lay in a pool of blood under a hedge, a quarter of a mile from his home. John told George to get the village blacksmith and Richard to get the police. After Richard reported to the police, he went to his sister's home. She lived in Crewe, over the families tailoring and drapery business with another brother, Frederick (10yrs) and Richard Davies's father,

Richard returned to the murder scene just before the police. Inspector Alfred Oldham informed Superintendent Jesse Leah, Head of the Nantwich Division of Cheshire Police. He arrived at 4am and took control. The police did not beleive the brothers story and Richard and George were both charged with the murder of their father. It was then that they turned on eachother. On Thursday January 30th 1890, they were charged with murder.

The inquest started at The White Hart Inn (next door to the Davies house). Dr Frank Matthews, the Nantwich surgeon who carried out the post mortem, told the coroner that he had found 10 seperate head wounds. The skull had been fractured in 6 places, anyone of them would have caused death. The inquest jury returned a verdict that Richard Davies had been murdered by person or persons unknown.

George and Richard Davies after entering pleas of Not Guilty, were formally committed for trail at Chester.

During the trail, the jury heard about how Richard Davies snr beat his wife and children. How he mistreated them and his hot and cruel temper. They also heard how Richard (son) left the house unseen and hid in Back Lane until the pony and trap with his father and brother came to him.

The jury was also told that the murder weapon had been a lather's hammer (one was missing from the shop).

The two brother's were found guilty even though not one member of the jury could tell who had killed their father.

Numerous petitions were sent to The Home Secretary. It is claimed that over 50,000 signatures signed these petitions including Churchmen, MPs and members of the press.

No one will ever know what really happened. Richard Davies died on the scaffold on Tuesday April 8th 1890. But George was given a 20yr prison sentance. Was that because he was younger?
On Saturday April 1st 1905, George was released from Parkhurst Prison after serving 15yrs. He never returned home.

The Battle of Nantwich

Acton and Nantwich, Cheshire

It was a cold and foggy afternoon when my friend Kath and I thought we would retrace the footsteps of these brave Civil War soliders. We started out track around Acton Church. It was like a scene from an old horror film with the fog rolling over the gravestones. It was easy to imagine the horror from the battle, as so many were buried here and the church did hold prisoners for a short time.

Next to the church is The Star public house and Dorfold Hall. This area was The Royalist stronghold. Their headquarters were either at the church or the hall. But we know most (if not all) the Generals and Leaders stayed at the Hall and The Battle of Nantwich could have been planned from The Star.

As we walked round and headed across the road to the battle site, it was getting easyer to picture what the battle could have looked like. In fact, I was half expecting a solider to walk out in front of me, coming out of the fog.

We walked to an area known as Dead Mans Field. I am sure you can imagine why.
Many people have claimed to see and hear the battle continue, as if the souls are still fighting.

Nantwich had been the only town in Cheshire to go against King Charles 1 and sided with the Parliamentarians.

The Civil War had started because King Charles 1 (1600-49) had dissolved Parliament in 1629 and for the next eleven years, he had ruled alone. This had not been popular and by 1642 Civil War spread across the country. The war lasted from 1642-1646. The Parliamentarians (roundheads) under Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612-71) and then Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) finally defeated the Royalist (Cavaliers). In 1649, King Charles was executed in Whitehall, London.

Nantwich had had a few skirmishes between the two forces but by the end of 1643, Nantwich was besieged again by Lord Byran's Royalist army.

King Charles had been fighting in Ireland but peace had been arranged, so his troops could join the few that were left fighting the Royalist cause in this country. They landed at Chester and went to join Lord Byran's troops.

Nantwich was defended by 2,000 men led by William Brereton but the Royalist army was now 5,000 strong. Knowing he wouldnt have enough men, William Brereton sent for Thomas Fairfax. He came from over the Pennines with 3,000 men. Before reaching Acton, Thomas Fairfax met with a couple of small skirmishs, one in Delamere Forest on the day before the battle.

Thomas Fairfax set up his quarters on January 24th at Tilstone, just outside Tarporley and then headed towards Acton, meeting with another small skirmish at Barbridge on the morning of the battle. He set up his council of war at Hurleston, just outside Acton.

Lord Byran heard of Thomas Fairfax's approach with extra troops and left his headquarters at Dorfold Hall and met his other leaders at Acton Church and assembled his army on a hill. His artillery and infantry were sent across the frozen River Weaver. But this was his downfall, as a sudden thaw caused the frozen river to thaw and his army was cut in half.

The Parliamentarians, led by William Brereton left their camp (Hack Green Nuclear Bunker now stands in this area) and their headquarters, for the other leaders were at The Crown and Lamb Hotels and attacked the Royalist infantry. Thomas Fairfax attacked the front and his infantry held back the Royalist horsemen.

The Royalist army were attaked from both sides and they soon surrendered. In fact, the battle only lasted one and a half hours. 1500 prisoners were taken by the Parliamentarians and held at Acton church. Bullet holes can still be seen in the church and this has been linked to the shooting of Captain Steele. I will tell you about this later.

Lord Byron escaped but with only his cavalry.

Nowadays, this event is celabrated eachyear by a re-enactment of the battle by the Sealed Knot actors. They dress in full costume and carry long pikes, muskets and use cannons.
It is a great attraction and a fun day out.

But wondering on the batterfield itself, you are humbled as you remember the dead and what a pityful site the area must have looked.

Captain Steele
Thomas Steele was a reluctant solider and was a cheese dealer by trade.

He held Beeston Castle for Parliament until 13th December 1643 when Captain Sandford and only eight infantrymen with muskets, climbed up to the castle at night. Steele had plenty of men to defend the castle but he surrendered. It is said he entertained Sandford and his men to dinner.

Thomas Steele left the castle and travelled to Nantwich to inform the forces that Beeston had fallen. When the townsfolk found out, he was condemed to be shot. He died in Tynker's Croft behind Acton church. After being shot by two musketeers, one shot him in the belly and the other in the throat. His body was immediately put in a coffin and buried in the churchyard.

This had given the Royalist a stronghold and the castle remained in their control for a year before the main attack on Nantwich.
Captain Sandford was killed in the attack on Nantwich.
What had happened that night. Had Thomas Steele just had enough and gave in or did Captain Sandford tricked Thomas into believing that he had more troops than he had.

There have been many sightenings over the years. We have Civil war soliders walking around the town and of course many people beleive that the battle still takes place on the blood soaked fields. The sound of cannons, muskets and clashing pikes, also the screams and shouts of the fighting and dying men.