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.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

THE HANKELOW MURDER

This tale is about the brutal murder of wealthy farmer George Morrey on 11th April 1812.

We all know about Lady Chatterley and her lover. Well this is the real life version and based in Cheshire.

George's wife, Edith Morrey and their servant, John Lomas, had been having an affair for quite some time. Edith enjoyed the lifestyle her husband gave her but she still required the attentions of a younger man.

Edith found out she was pregant and one theory was that her husband may not have been able to have children and when he found out she was with child. He may have tried to send her away and treathened divorce. Edith may have even thought of killing her husband before he found out about the baby and planned to live with her lover. Maybe John had heard the couple rowing and this murder had not been planned. He may have thought he hwas protecting his loved one and things got out of control.

Whatever happened, on April 11th 1812, George was found on his bedroom floor, his throat had been slashed with a razor and his head almost decapitated by an axe.

John Lomas confessed to the murder but also told police that Edith had stood holding a candle telling him what to do.

After being arrested, Edith attempted to cut her own throat but she was saved by the local surgeon.

They were both found guilty and sentenced to hang. But Edith's date with the hangman was postponed for four months until the birth of her son.

After their executions at Chester, both lovers had their bodies used in the interests of medical science and Edith's body was put on public view but minus her heart.

Over the years, some people had sympathy for John as many felt he had been seduced by such a wicked lady and perhapes he was protecting his unborn child. But no sympathy for Edith.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT



SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT



This tale was written during the 14th century by an unknown author. It is written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English, which mixes the dialet from North Wales and English Border. It is for this reason that as I briefy tell you the tale, I will also include the areas from my local area that seem to be the locations in the tale as many experts have agreed with, even though most areas are not named in the poem.






The tale starts in Camelot just after Christmas while King Arthur and his court are feasting and exchanging gifts. A large Green Knight entered the hall and set a challenge. The challenge was if someone could strike him once with his own axe, they would face eachother again one year and a day later. Sir Gawain (Arthur's youngest knight) accepts the challenge.

Gawain severed the Green Knight's Head clean off and thinking that was the end of the matter and wondering why someone would walk into the hall and demand such a challenge, he walks away. But the Green Knight stood up and instead off dying, he walked over to where his head was lying on the floor, he picked it up and placed it back on his neck as though nothing had happened. He told Gawain to met him at The Green Chapel on New Years Day the following year. And with that, he left.

Gawain thought no more about this meeting until the time of the meeting approached. Gawain set off on his journey. He crossed the river at Llangollen and went north to Holywell. He passed St Winifred's Well, through to the Wirral and then down to finally he came across a beautiful castle high on a hill.

It is claimed that this is Beeston Castle. The Lord of the castle, Bertilak de Hautdesert, and his wife welcomed Gawain and invited him to rest at the castle. Gawain explained his quest and Bertilak told him he had plenty of time as the Green Chapel was only a couple of days journey away. So Gawain agreed to stay three days.

Before going hunting the following day, Bertilak proposes a bargin to Gawain. He said that he will give Gawain whatever he catches, on the condition that Gawain gave him what he had gained during the day. Gawain accepts and Bertilak leaves. Later that day, Lady de Hautdesert enters Gawain's bedroom to seduce him. But Gawain refused and just gives in to a single kiss on the cheek. When Bertilak returned, he gave Gawain the deer he had killed and Gawain gave him a kiss on the cheek. The next day, the same happened and the exchange was a boar for two kisses. On the third day, Gawain accepts a green silk girdle from her Lady which she told him it would keep him from all physical harm. They exchanged three kisses. That evening, Bertilak returns with a fox, which he exchanged for three kisses but Gawain kept the girdle without telling him.


The next day, Gawain leaves the castle and heads towards the Green Chapel. This is said to be located in Lud's Church, Staffordshire. He crossed The Roaches and across the valley by the ruins of an abbey (Dieulacres Abbey).








As Gawain approaches the Green Chapel, the Green Knight appears at the top of the cliffe. Gawain is wearing the green girdle and offers his neck. The knight tries three times to chop off his head. 1st time Gawain ducks out of the way, 2nd the knight misses and 3rd the knight catches Gawain with a small cut on his neck. The Green Knight then reveals himself as Bertilak. He explains that this entire challenge was the idea of Morgan le Fay (Arthur sister).


As I said earlier, many of the areas I have named are thought to be the places in the poem. I will now list these places and give a little more information on them. Why dont you read the poem and see if you agree with me about these locations and if you dont agree, let me know which areas you think are in the poem and why.


LLANGOLLEN

This town is situated in Denbighshire, by the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.

It takes its name from Saint Collen. He was a 6th century monk who founded a church beside the river. There are links to King Arthur --- FFYNNON ARTHUR (Arthur's Well) and CROES GWENHWYFAR (Guinnivere's Cross). Dinas Bryn Castle is thought to have housed the Holy Grail for a while. This castle is an ancient hilltop fort which still shows the remains of the walled castle built in the Middle Ages.





Llangollen was an important coaching stop for the mail coach on the old mail route along the A5 London to Holywell road. Other transport was the Ellesmere Canal which ran to Hurleston Junction (nr Nantwich). This is now known as the Llangollen Canal.






And the Llangollen Railway is now a great tourist attraction. It was opened on the 2nd June 1862, closed for passengers on 18th January 1965, closed for goods in April 1968 but it re opened on 13th September 1975.



The annual Eisteddfod Folk Music Festival is held here lasting a week.


Nearby is Valle Crucis Abbey, this is a former Cistercian Monastery built in the 13th century.










Llangollen is also home to Plas Newydd. This was originally a small cottage when the Ladies of Llangollen moved in during 1780. Between 1798 and 1814, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby conducted their restoration and rebuilding work. They lived together for almost 50 years. It is said that only men can see their ghosts on Christmas Eve.












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ST WINIFRED'S WELL



St Winifred's well and chapel has been visited by people for 1300 years wishing to be healed or for their faith.






This place began with a legend. In AD 660, this area was a number of huts centered around a church. Winefride was a young lady who was the daughter of a local prince. Caradoc, the son of another prince, was very taken with Winefride. He asked her to marry him but she refursed. Caradoc would not leave her alone and she tried to hide in the church. Caradoc found her and angry that she wouldnt marry him, he attacked her and chopped of her head.


Winiefride's head rolled away from her body and where it stopped, a spring with healing powers appeared. Winefride's Uncle Brena, placed her head next to her body and prayed over her. She rose again and placed her head back on her neck. She became a nun and then Abbess.
Winefride died about 20 years later.


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BEESTON CASTLE


This area is listed in the Domesday Book as BUISTAN in Broxton Hundred. It was held by WULFWY and the lands were owned by ROBERT, son of Hugh. The settlement became known as Bestan in 1282.


Overlooking the village is Beeston Castle. This castle is probably built on an Iron Age Fort and the remains of early settlements dating back to 800 BC have been discovered here.





The castle was built 1225 by Ranulf Blundeville, Earl of Chester, as part of his Welsh border defences. In 1237, the castle passed to Henry lll and it was used as a prison during his battles with the Welsh. Edward l improved the castle and by the time of his murder at Berkeley Castle in 1327, Beeston Castle was nearly complete. The castle was partially destroyed by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

As well as being associated with Bertilak, another interesting story involving the castle is of course the gold and treasure hidden within it. This tale is covered in my blog.

There are a few ghost sightening associated with this castle.


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DIEULACRES ABBEY




This Cistercian abbey was founded by white monks near to a ford across the River Dee at Poulton, near Chester. They had been sent there by the Earl of Chester for two reasons. First because they were safe away from the Welsh and second because the Earl had had a dream about this area.



Monks were among the few who could read and write and because of this, many beleive it is a monk who wrote Sir Gawain's story. It is of course in the right location and there is another story from the right time that associated with the abbey.

In 1379, the Abbot of Dieulacres was involved in a terrible deed where a local man was beheaded on the moors by the abbey.

This photo is located to where the abbey once stood, there is a farm here now,


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THE ROACHES


This is named from the French --- LES ROCHES - meaning the rocks.







It is a rocky ridge above Leek, Staffs and is popular with hikers and rock climbers. It is made up of coarse sandstone.

In clear weather you can see all Cheshire and Snowdon in Wales.

It is of course, near to Lud's church.


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LUD's CHURCH (the green chapel).




This area is allegedly named after Walter de Ludauk, leader of the local Lallards (15th century religious leaders who secretly worshipped here).










This deep chasm is over 100m long, 18m deep, overgrown and covered in moss. Only on Midsummers Day does sunlight penetrate deep into this chasm, which adds to its magic and mystery.






If you beleive in local legends, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonny Prince Charlie are all said to have hidden from the authorities here.



DELAMERE FOREST




DELAMERE FOREST

The present day forest is far smaller than what it use to be. It is what is left of two grest forests -- MARA and MONDRUM. They originally extended from the Mersey to Nantwich.



This map shows Delamere Forest between 1277 - 1536.

F= Frodsham, T= Tarporley, U= Utkinton,

VR- Vale Royal Abbey, W= Weaverton.




This area used to have three lakes (Meres) called HATCHMERE, OAKMERE and LINMERE (which has been since drained). Also inside this area is Hunger Hill which is one of the oldest parts of the forest, Eddisbury Hill which has a large Iron Age Hill Fort at the top. This fort was partly destroyed, perhapees by the Romans but rebuilt by the Anglo Saxons in AD914. In Oakmere, there are earthworks of an ancient settlement.

This whole area was once the exclusive hunting ground of the Earls of Chester and the Royal Family.
In 1812, what was left of the medieval forest was offically deforested by Parliament. The Crown retained some land (which was leased out and farmed as Crown property). The rest was allocated to private owners. Some of the Crown's land was reserved under the Surveyor of Woods and Forest (now the Forestry Commission) and planted with conifers. Also during this year, the new parish of Delamere was created by an Act of Parliament which received the Royal Assent on the 9th June 1812.

In 1819, the parish was divided into four :- KINGSWOOD, EDDISBURY, OAKMERE and DELAMERE.

In 1856, a further act was passed authorising the cultivation for farm land in parts of Delamere.
The main route through Delamere was the Roman road leading from Chester to Manchester. A secondary track was also the path of a Roman road to Middlewich, this later became the A54. Of course there was many other tracks that ran throughout the forest, these have now been forgotton or used as footpaths but years ago these such areas were the haunts for highwaymen. They were ideal as the cover of the forest gave them an easy escape route. It is said that this is how THIEVES MOSS gained its name. So did GALLOWSCLOUGH get its name from having a gallow here for a while?

Delamere has also been long associated with Gypsies and travelling people staying here for a while during their search for work or just passing through. During the early part of 1815, a woman came to live in the forest. She had travelled from Germany and this is the legend of her.

THE WOMAN WHO LIVED IN DELAMERE FOREST

Maria Hollingsworth claimed to be the daughter of a Lutheran Clergyman of Leuwarden in West Friesland, where she had been born in 1765. She had married an English soldier of the 22nd Regiment and under the command of Lord Cathcart, they travelled through Germany. Her husband died in 1814, leaving her with two children. Maria came to England with her daughter after obtaining a small pension from Queen Charlotte, leaving her son to finish his apprenticive as a carpenter in Hanover.

Maria obtained permission to live in the forest. She found two whale ribs on a bank near Oakmere (Philip Egerton of Oulton had left these here). She used them to build a rough hut. This hut is said to have measured 8ft by 10ft and 5ft high. She lived of the land and taught her daughter and childred from the neighbourhood to read and write in English, French and German.

In 1820, Maria received a letter from her son saying he was joining them. Marai and her daughter waited everyday on a raised area overlooking the road her son ould have travelled on.

After a while, Maria saw a man whom she beleived to be her son. But this man is said to have stopped and asked for directions to Maria's home from another man of bad character who lived in a cottage nearby. The next day, Maria and her daughter saw the neighbour and his son carrying a large, heavy sack and throwing it out into the mere. But it didnt sink, so they took it out and disappeared behind their cottage carrying spades. Maria tried to follow them but lost them. Maria went to the authorities the following morning believing her son had been murdered. Mr Wilbraham of Delamere House tried to help Maria but the mystery was never solved.
Another traveller came after claiming to be her son and Maria accepted him, but it is said, without any enthusiasm.

During 1832, Maria was nominated to fill a vacancy in one of the Dutch Almshouses in London and she left quickly leaving behind her daughter and "son".

It is said that the ghost of a young man and an old woman are amoung the spirits that roam the forest.

CIVIL WAR

Another ghostly tale associated with the forest is that of fighting Roundheads and Royalists from the Civil War.

Delamere Forest saw one fairly small skirmish on January 24th 1644. In a chance meeting of the Parliamentarians lead by Thomas Fairfax and the Royalist army lead by Lord Byron. The Parliamentarions were leading to Tilston Heath from Manchester before moving onto Nantwich. The Royalist army had sent a patrol out and after this meeting they lost about 30 men as prisoners. The skirmish is said to have taken place near the A49 near Nunsmere.

But this would not have been the only skirmish in the forest. Romans, Saxons and Welsh have all been in this area over time, so including the Civil War, probably many a life would have been lost here.

Other paranormal sightenings have included strange lights, a woman in white and a large black dog.