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.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

CHESHIRE's FAIRY FOLK



Like other area's of the British Isles, Cheshire has tales about fairies. Belief in these has wained over the years esp as more and more homes are built to house our growing population, old little villages are becoming more like towns. But there are still people out there that still believe or are just a little too scared not to carry on the tradition, just in case.


There are many areas across Cheshire that is supposed to house fairy folk. Many ancient burial mounds or tumulus are said to be guarded by these little people.







Another sign is a circle of grass that is both a different colour and texture to the rest of the area. These are known as a Fairy Ring. It is beleived that fairy's met here and hold dances. There are a couple of rules to follow if you fing one of these rings ------


---- Dont damage the area
--- Dont sit in this area, esp on May Eve, Midsummer's Eve and All Hallow's Eve because you could find yourself in the fairy realm, never to return.
--- always acknowldge them as you walk pass either by nodding your head or saying hello, bad luck will befall you if you dont.

But if you wish to see the little people, it is said you can if you run around the ring nine times, clockwise, on a full moon.

Many areas in Cheshire have fairy glen's or fairy hills. Around Toot Hill in Macclesfield Forest, some farmers leave food out for the fairies before a field is ploughed or harvested.


In Ince, their local church is built on the site of a Norman Chapel but the local legend is that the original builders wanted the church built on the other side of the village. During the day, the builders worked hard but at night, the fairies would come and move the stones to where the church stands today. After some time, the builders agreed to build the church where the fairies wanted it.




There is a similar story at Bramall Hall at Stockport. About half a mile from the Hall, there is an area known as Crow Holt Wood or Fairiy Wood. This was where the hall was originally planned to be built. But again as the bilders worked during the day, the fairies removed the timbers and stones during the night. And this is why Bramall Hall is built in its present location.

ANIMALS




What is Cheshire's most famous animal?

Of course, THE CHESHIRE CAT.


In this section, I will look at all animals, whether they are real or myth.





CATS

Lewis Carroll made this animal famous when he wrote about it in Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. The cat disappears leaving behind its grin. But what has a grinning cat got to do with Cheshire. I will list a few examples of where the saying could have come from and then let you deside -----

--- an unhappy sign painter trying to represent the lion of the Egerton family on boards outside a few inns. Very few people knew what a growling lion looked like and most painting from this time looked more like a large furry cat smiling.
--- the arms of the Earls of Chester (which is a wolf's head) has sometimes been mistaken for a grinning cat.
--- local Cheshire Cheese was commonly fashioned into various animal shapes years ago. One of these was a grinning cat.
--- the British Blue Cat are known for a smiling expression and these cats were popular in Cheshire.
--- one of the ancient Celtic tribes living in this area during the Roman occupation were called Cornovii, whose symbol was a cat. They were known as and Cheshire is still known by this "PEOPLE OF THE CAT".

--- there is a rock feature known as the Cat Stones, which are part of The Cloud. This area, it is said, that people came here from about the second century to worship the Moon Goddess. There are some carvings in stone on Bidston Hill, these show the Moon Goddess. She has a moon at her feet and the face of a cat. Did the same people who made the carvings also worship at The Cloud.


--- there is also something known as The Cheshire Smile or Cheshire Grin. This was a term once widely used in Cheshire as a form of death for poachers. They had their throats cut from ear to ear, hence the smile.

Cats have always been associated in legends.


In Egypt, a cat was so important that if you killed a cat, you were punished by death. If the family cat died, the entire family would shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning.









In Norse mythology, the chariot of the Goddess Freya (Goddess of beauty, love and fertility) is drawn by two large longhaired cats.








In Japan, a cat brings good luck. And in Czechoslovakia, the cat is also a symbol of fertility.


In Britain, as well as most of Europe, the cat esp a black cat, is associated with bad luck, witchcraft and black magic. During the Middle Ages, the cat was said to be a familar to a witch.









Did Cheshire stand alone from the rest of the country, in its legend of the Cat People, Cat Stones or is it just because of the countryside and farms, that cats have always survived in.

Whatever the reason, the Cheshire Cat is famous around the world.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



DOGS









Another animal known across the country and esp in Cheshire is The Black Dog.

They are either guardians of a churchyard or foretellers of doom and death. The most famous is the Black Dog of Barthomley, who haunts around the Church and Rectory. This could have come from the belief that if a black dog was buried in a new churchyard, it would then guard it against the Devil.

But what about the Hounds from Hell. These Black dogs collect the human souls for the Devil.
So whichever way we look at it, these dogs are associated with the death of a human, weather it is protecting it or collecting. I know I am in no rush to met one of these dogs.

I have come across a tale of a White Hound with a chain around its neck. He has been seen near the church at Bunbury. Not sure if this hound is the guardian or not.

There is another belief associated with dogs but this time you dont have to see them, just hear them. A dog can sense when its owner is ill or dying. This is due to the dog sensing the chemical changes in the human body. The dog sometimes howls when this is happening. But long before science found this out, people who heard a dog howling considered this as a death omen and it was said that the actual moment of death was thought to be marked by a dog howling three times. A case of science finally catching up with myth.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



WEREWOLF










This werewolf came from Longdendale, near the Cheshire/Staffordshire border. This tale is from around the time of King Henry II's reign.

The Abbott of Basingwerke was asked by the local people of the area for help against this evil creature that cursed this land for such a long time. The Abbott cursed the animal so it should remain in the condition it was at that time.

King Henry had heard about this creature and together with his son, Prince Henry, Lord Longdendale, Baron Ashton and other dignitories deceided to hunt down the creature. The hunting party set off nut the Prince became seperated and he was attacked by the werewolf. The Baron of Ashton came to his help and killed the beast.

News travelled fast and the village celebrated that they were finally rid of the creature. The body of the werewolf had been cut open and it is said that the heads of three babies fell out.

Later that day, a forester said he had seen the werewolf in the forest earlier that morning. It was screaming like a woman and trying to tear its own skin off.

Had the curse worked and when the werewolf had tried to change back into human form, it realised it couldnt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



WHITE OWL










There is a legend associated with the churchyard at Old St Chads, Tushingham and a couple of other churchyards across Cheshire. The legend is that if anyone sees a white owl flying down the tower and lands in the churchyard, they or someone close to them will die.






-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


DRAGONS

These creatures are known not only throughout the country but the world. There are many tales in folklore and legends. These large creatures had long tails, huge wings, long necks, they could breath fire and were covered in scales. They lived in caves, forests or near lakes.

In folklore, they attacked isolated villages, killing humans and livestock. They were also associated with supernatural powers and to be able to speak.


The word DRAGON entered the English language in the early 13th century from the old French word, which in turn came from the Latin DRACONEM meaning HUGE SERPENT.


Dragons are commonly depicted as malevolent(evil) but there are a couple of exceptions like Y DDRAIG GOCH, the Red Dragon of Wales.






The Romans used the dragon as a symbol of fear. One of their military standards was a large dragon fixed to the end of a lance, its jaws were made of silver and the rest of its body made of coloured silk. It made a noise as the wind went through it jaws.



In Cheshire, we have our own Dragon tale, The Dragon from Moston. I have already written about this on my blog.

But there is another Dragon associated with this area. You may have heard of Leylines or Engry lines. Well we have these lines called Dragon Lines or Dragon Paths. These link abcient sites to one another. For example, there is a line running through Tattenhall, running from Lower Hall, Newton Hall, St Alban Tattenhall Church, Dragon Hall and then down to a Tumulus at Meadows Farm.

THE KNIGHTS GRANGE, WINSFORD



This tale carrys on from my Vale Royal Abbey blog story.

This Grange was once owned by Vale Royal Abbey. It was one of their farms.

The Grange appears under this name for the first time in 1325/6, when the Abbots servants seized 50 pigs that were feeding in a local wood without permission. These pigs were taken to the Grange of Knytes. This was written in one of the abbots ledgers.


The name refers to the young men who worked on the farm. They normally lived in or near to the abbey but they didnt take their full vows. They were more labourers.

By the end of the Middle Ages, it was let as a working farm. It continued to be let until 1912 when it was sold by auction to raise money for Lord Delamere's trips to Kenya. It had been in this family since 1616 when Lady Mary Cholmondeley bought the Vale Royal estate. Lady Cholmondeley probably was responsible for the building of the brick mansion you see today. It is one of the oldest brick buildings in the country. It is also said that she loved this building and one of her favourites.

It went through the ownership of Tom Platt and then Edwin Hopley until Winsford UDC bought it in 1972. The old farmhouse is now a public house and land also forms a sports centre owned by Vale Royal Borough Council.

There is a legend of tunnels leading to the old Vale Royal Abbey and the ghost of Ida the nun has been seen here.


MURDER TALE

Albert Stanley was the landowner in 1903-04. His daughter was meeting a young man. Albert thought that this young man was not good enough for his daughter and he went after them. There was an accident (or was it) and Albert shot the young man dead. His daughter never forgave her father.


INVESTIGATION

I have conducted an investigation here and we did come across a few weird events.

--- I had a couple of stones thrown at me while I was on my own in the loft.
--- a fellow investigator saw a hooded clocked figure downstairs
--- we all got the feeling that we were being watched.

Other activity reported here are

--- Ida the nun has been seen sitting on a chair by the front door
--- tables and chairs heard moving across the stone floor
--- a woman seen upstairs (some say it is Lady Cholmondeley)
--- shadowery figures
--- pool balls move on their own

TROUBLE AT VALE ROYAL and a NUN'S GRAVE


This Abbey was founded by King Edward I after a dream he had. The then, Prince of Wales, was in danger on board his ship on his return from The Holy Land. Praying that they would not become shipwrecked, he made a vow to convent of Cistercian Monks. Some time later, he was taken prisoner during the Baron's Wars and held at Hereford. The Monks from a nearby monastery of Dore would visit him and out of gratitude for their kindness, he fulfilled his vow.

During 1273, he removed the Monks from Dore to Dernhall where they stayed for a few years until he became King.

Building work began in the neighbouring area called Wetene-Hall-Wez and the King changed its name to Vale Royal.

The first stone was laid by King Edward and Queen Eleanor laid the second stone on the 6th August 1277. The monks lived in a small temporary building in Dernhall from 1281-1330, when they moved into their new, splendid mansion which cost £30,000.




These monks enjoyed many riches and privileges under a Royal Founder. They had the power of probation of criminals and even the power of life and death within the manors of Dernhall, Over and Weaverham.

Friction between the Monks and the local population and this lead to violent uprisings. Here are a few examples that happened:----
--- there was a law saying that no woman wa able to marry outside the manor without obtaining permission and paying a fee to the Abbot. Another payment had to be made once she became pregnant.
--- in 1320, John of Budworth (one of the Abbots servants) was attacked and killed in Darnhall. It is said that his head was used as a football by his attackers who were members of the Oldyngton Family.
--- Brother John Lewis was ambushed in Tarvin and this led to an open rebellion. His attackers were taken to Weaverham prison.
--- around 1311, the abbot and several monks were arrested and accused of harbouring a gang of bandits. They stayed inside the abbey and were later let off with no criminal action.
--- in 1336, a number of men went to Chester to plea for their freedom from the abbot. They were thrown in Over prison. This started a fight between the villagers (supported by the Venables family) and the abbey. Twelve of the villagers were taken to Stamford and ordered to surrender their goods and lands.
--- in 1340, the abbot was murdered by some locals including a member of the Venables family. In the same year, a number of men burnt down the abbots house in Chester.
--- by the end of the 14th century (1395-6) an inquest was held into the affairs and mismanagement of the abby and behaviour of the monks and abbot.
--- things didnt improve at Vale Royal, murder, rape, taking bribes and other criminal offences were reported.

By the time of the Dissolution, the incomes of Vale Royal and Combermere were considerable. In 1538, John Harewood, 21st abbot, handed over Vale Royal to the Crown. The abbey was knocked down and left in ruin.


The present building was built on the site of the abbey by Sir Thomas Holcroft. This later became the home of the Cholmondeley Family and later 1st Baron Delamere. The mansion is now divided into apartments.




THE CHOLMONDELEY/DELAMERE FAMILY

Lady Mary Cholmondeley bought the property in 1616 for £9,000. She was the widow of Sir Hugh Cholmondeley. In 1617, James I stayed here.

Part of the estate was destroyed during the civil war and the rebuild was carried out for Thomas Cholmondeley, later Ist Lord Delamere. He held the estate from 1779 until his death in 1855.

The family held the estate until 1947.


SECRET TUNNELS

There is a legend that a secret tunnel lead from the abbey to the nunnery at Winsford. The Monks and Nuns would use this to met in secret. Bodies of babies have said to have been found in this tunnel.



THE NUN'S GRAVE



This is all that remains of a grave and monument to a nun called Ida. It is thought the monument was erected by the Cholmondeley family to possibly add credence to the legend.





The stone circle of the nun's grave is situated near the supposed high alter of the former abbey church. The grave is composed of material from three sources:----
1/ a medieval cross head with four sculptured panels depicting the Crucifixion, the virgin and child, St Catherine and St Nicholas.
2/ a sandstone shaft possibly of the 17th century.
3/ a plinth made up from salvaged abbey masonry.

There are two slightly different versions of the legend of Ida.

First version is --- Ida was a young girl from Overton who was befriended by Peter, a canon of Norton Priory. He became Abbot of Vale Royal (an unlikely change of order. The only Peter who was abbot was the 5th abbot around 1320-1340. This Peter had many struggles with local villians). Ida entered the Convent of St Mary at Chester. The Abbot had to visit the city and while he was there, he was taken ill. Ida came to him and while she nursed him back to health, they fell in love. They realised that their vows prevented any relationship on earth but agreed to be buried in the same grave so they could spend eternity together.

Second version is --- Ida didnt know the abbot but she was sent to Vale Royal to nurse him. She stayed until he died and as a mark of her kindness the monument was built.

Human bones were found under the monument, they were said to be female. So it looks like Ida was buried alone. These bones are now said to be inside the libuary.


GHOSTLY SIGHTENINGS

--- Monks have been seen around the grounds
--- Ida has been seen by the monument and inside the house
--- music has been heard at the grave at midnight
--- chanting has been heard around the ground


Friday, 25 February 2011

THE END OF OULTON HALL



Nowadays, this whole area is a racing circult, there is little evidence of the Hall and parklands that once stood here. Thousands of people come here to watch motor racing at weekends without ever knowing the history associated with this land. I too use to come here most weekends as a child. My grandfather, MR JACK THOMAS, helped run the bike racing. He was also known as MR OULTON. I would mix with all the bikers and watch the racing. I would also go and roam the whole area, knowing very little of the history I was walking on.

The Egerton Family were landowners for nearly 500 years and in the reign of Henry VII, they became Lords of the Manor. The family lived in a large Tudor house but this was destroyed by fire. So in 1715, John Egerton(1656-1731), began to rebuild his home.

During 1731, after inheriting this manor house, formal gardens and farmland from his uncle, John, his nephew Philip Egerton (1694-1766) began to build a brick wall to enclose the estate after he had enlarged it from 231 acres to 315 acres. After his death, his brother, John, took over and then succeeded by his son, Philip (1738-1786) in 1770.

Fashion changed and formal gardens were taken over by a landscaped garden surrounded by park land. Over the years, building work and improvements were made and the house containded a fine art collection.

But money was slowly running out and during the 1920's the Hall was leased to industrialist Mr F W Cooper. At 10am on Valentine's Day 1926, the family were having breakfast when the housemaid reported that the upper floors were on fire. By 10.30am the Tarporley Fire Brigade had arrived. You can imagine the scene, about 20 people were running in and out of the building trying to save the works of art and other people running for their lives, panic scenes.

Suddenly at 11.30am, the roof collapsed. Six people died either at the scene or later in hospital. The fire continued to burn for several days. The fire was reported in both the Telegraph and the Times. This fire had also been one of the first where more than one fire brigade worked together, three further brigades had to be called in, Chester City, Messrs Brunner Mond and Co and Winsford.

The ruin of the Hall remained standing until World War II, when they were hit by German bombs. General Patton was based here in the run up to the Normandy Landings. During this time, troops had used the estate but they left at the end of the war. The estate was covered in rubble, huts and a twelve foot roadway. It was returned to Sir Philip Grey Egerton in 1950.



It was at this time that two members of the Mid Cheshire Motor Club suggested that some of the roadway could be used for motor racing. And the rest as they say is history.





Very little of this great estate still exists today. The Entrance gates, lodges and screen designed by Joseph Turner in about 1775. In the grounds is a monument of 1846 to the memory of John Francis Egerton of the Bengal Horse Regiment, who died in India in 1846, designed by Scott and Moffatt. The stable block designed by Lewis Wyatt and a farm building has also survived. These are all Grade II listed buildings.

CIVIL WAR MASSACRE and the GHOSTS AT BARTHOMLEY, nr CREWE


Barthomley is home to a few wonderful tales. Thers the ancient burial ground, a prince turned hermit, a massacre, a large black dog and a ghostly white lady. These are all located around the church and the White Lion public house.

In the Domesday Survey, Barthomley was listed as Bertemelev. The Church (St Bertoline) is situated on a mould, known as Barrow Hill, this is an ancient burial ground. The church is dedicated to an 8th century saint who performed a miracle here. He was an Mercian Prince turned hermit.


On December 23rd 1643, Royalist forces attacked a group of villagers. They ran and hid in the church tower. The Officer in charge of the troops, Major Connaught, ordered a fire to be made of wood and rushes at the foor of the tower. This smoked the villagers out. As these poor villages left the tower, twelve of them were slaughtered. Major Connaught was tried for murdering several people in the church. His trial focussed on the death of just one of these villagers --- JOHN FOWLER. It is said that the Major struck a battleaxe across the left side of John Fowler's head, a fatal blow. The Major was found guilty and he was hung at Boughton, Chester on the afternoon of Tuesday 17th October 1654. He went to the scaffold protesting his innocence.


The LADY IN WHITE is said to haunt the church field and around the church. Who is she and why does she stay here? The white lady or sometimes known as grey lady is associated with the loss of a loved one either a husband, lover or a child. There is a story that she belonged to one of the large families in the area. When she died, there was no room in the churchyard, so land by the old rectory was quickly comsumated by the vicar and she was buried there. But surely, if she came from a large important family, she would have already have a family plot. Perhapes she had been a loved family servant?





Another sightening is a large black hound. This roams the old rectory drive (where the village hall is today) and around the churchyard. This hound was beleived to be a portent of evil or the hound of hell. These hounds of hell are said to forsee death and collect the souls of the person near to death. This hound could also be a Graveyard ghost. This spirit is beleived to have special abilities. It is normally the first body to be buried in a churchyard and it then would return to guard the area against the Devil. There are many black dog sightenings across the country, that roam churchyards and near churches. Perhapes these faithful dogs are still guarding the final resting places of the people buried here.



THE WHITE LION







This inn dates from 1614. It is one of the original inns in Cheshire. Originally belonging to Sir Randulph Crewe, whose family emblem, the silver lion, gave the pub its name.


The Manor Polls show that the Parish Clerks lived and sold ale here as early as the 16th Century and an old lease referred to this pub as The Clerk's Cottage. It was also used by the Court Leet and Court Baron of John Crewe and rents were collected from here.





There have been a few reported paranormal events in this pub including ------
--- an old farmer wearing a beige smock, he had a round face and a beard seen standing on top of the stairs. He spoke and said "is this yours"
--- smoke rings have been seen upstairs
--- people have been touched
--- tapping and knocking sounds
--- doors open and close, also lock on their own
--- shadows seen
--- a man has been seen sitting at one of the tables in the pub, only to disappear
--- a man hung himself in the pub and he has been felt



INVESTIGATION




My group investigated this area and the pub. Apart from a few "orbs", we found nothing outside.







Inside the pub, we caught this photo of a mist, one member had her leg tickled and we did get a strange reaction to a pendulum experiment.








THE BATTLE OF NANTWICH, 1644


King Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland had been an unpopulare King. He had dissolved Parliament in 1629 and for the next eleven years, he had ruled alone. He was married to a Roman Catholic (which dis pleased many people including the Puritans). He raised taxes and was generally thought of as beening un fair.

In 1639, King Charles attempted to reform the Scottish Church and this lead to conflict between Scotland and England. This later became known as The Bishops Wars. To fund this war, King Charles had to call back Parliament. As you can imagine, Parliament were not going to support the King and this Scottish/English War only lasted till 1640 and it was the start of the King's downfall.

Parliament took control of most of the English Army but King Charles had some supporters. So both sides started recruiting and during the summer of 1642, King Charles set up his headquarters at Nottingham.

A series of battles took place, the first being at Edgehill and soon spread nationwide. It reached Cheshire in 1643. The war had families against their own fathers and sons, brothers against brothers.

Nantwich had been the only town in Cheshire to go against King Charles and sided with the Parliamentarians. Nantwich had had a few skirmishes between the two forces but by the end of 1643, Nantwich was besisged by Lord Byron's Royalist Army.

Sir William Brereton was the Parliamentary leader in Cheshire, sent re inforcements to help fortify Nantwich. Imagine the scene for the ordinary people of Nanwich. The town was defended by 2,000 men. Their headquarters were at The Lamb Hotel, a beatiful mansion house, which was surrounded by earthern walls to help withstand the canon balls. The town itself was surrounded by walls 4 meters high and 3 meters thick. Guards kept watch at the end of every street. The people of Nantwich lived in fear. Not only was there more people to fed and find them somewhere to live but they would be attacked from time to time.

By December The Royalist army had set up camp at Acton. They were now 5,000 strong and Lord Byron had set up a large canon at Dorfold Hall, forever pointing at Nantwich. When that was fired, the noice of the thundering canon ball heading towards the town wold have struck fear into th people's hearts. They would have seen it flying through the air and then panic as they ran away from it. Houses and barns were set alight and women and children had to carry water from the river to try and put the flames out.

The towns defences held but Sir William Brereton knew it was only a matter of time and he needed help. He sent for Thomas Fairfax. He came with an extra 3,000 men from over the Pennines.

Thomas Fairfax came through Delamere Forest on January 24th 1644. He met with a couple of small skirmishes but nothing serious. He set up his camp at Tilstone, just outside Tarporley.



On the morning of Thursday 25th January, the Parliamentary army with all its ammunition, soliders and provisions marched towards Nantwich on what is now the A51, Nantwich to Chester road. They met a small group of Royalist soldiers. Bur they were no match for the Parliamentary army and 30 prisoners were taken.


The scene was now set for The Battle of Nantwich. Half the Royalist Army was based at Acton. The other half (cavalry led by Sir John Byron) had been left marooned on the otherside of the River Weaver because of a sudden thaw during the night.





One half of the Royalist army attacked the Parliamentary army coming into the area from the rear. The Parliamentary army from Nanwich closed in on the other half of the Royalist army. The battle only lasted for an hour and a half (half past three till five pm)




Victory went to the Parliamentary army. Nearly 2,000 prisoners were taken including 120 women who carried and used long knives. Many prisoners were held at Acton Church and 188 Civil war casualties lie in the churchyard, this site is now grassed over. Some bones have been found recently under the church floor. These have now been given a formal re burial in the church grounds.




The site of the battle is known as DEAD MAN'S FIELD and ghostly phenomena around the church and this field has been reported. It is claimed that the sounds of a battle can still be heard. Ghostly soldiers screaming, shouting and fighting eachother. There has also been sightenings of a civil was soilder walking around Nantwich town.


Nantwich celebrates this battle every year. Its called HOLLY HOLY DAY, on the saturday nearest to the 25th January. There is a full day's programme of events including a re enactment of the battle by the Sealed Knot Society.





I went for a walk around Acton Church and Dead Mans Field and hear is my report.

I only spent a couple of hours in this area. It was a cold and foggy day. It wasnt hard to inagine the fear and emotion felt by every man and woman that day. As I was walking around the site with the fog rolling across the fields, it was so easy to inagine a solider walking up to me. In fact, I was getting the feeling of being watched but that was more my imagination than anything else. Nothing happened to me that day but I will return on the day of the battle.

WITCHCRAFT IN CHESHIRE


We have all heard the tales of The Pendle Witches and Salam Witch Trails. But what started the hysteria and did Cheshire have its own so called witches?

It was during the Middle Ages, when it all began in this country and continued until the 1700's. But it was only in the 1950's that the Witchcraft Act was finally abolished by Parliament. Between 1450 and 1750, more than 100,000 people (mainly women) in Europe and America were prosecuted for witchcraft.




During the reign of James I (James VI of Scotland) around 70,000 so called witches were either imprisoned, tortured, flogged, drowned or hung. He beleived in the occult and personally led witch hunts in Scotland. He signed the Witchcraft Act in 1604 and this started the hysteria in hunting witches.




People like Matthew Hopkins (self named Witch Finder General) was responsible for the condemnations and executions of around 200 alleged witches, nearly as many as all the other English Witch Hunters together. He used this to make his money. For 14 months, he charged £25 to cleanse a town of witches. He had a code called a Devils List. He made his victims suffer, according to his code, he would lock them in an isolated cell, they were humiliated by being stripped naked, starved and deprived of sleep. They were also made to walk up and down barefoot on a cold stone floor for hours. After days of this, most oeople confessed to being a witch.




Most Witch Hunters looked for marks on the person's body including blemishes (today these we know as birthmarks, scars etc) and it was said that women had three teats. These were called Devil's marks.

Most female witches were old hags living on their own on the edge of the village. They were mostly widowed, some too ugly to have ever married or just unpopular with the rest of the villagers. Most had a pet ie cat, dog, bird or any animal living in the woodland. They were wise in herbs, nature and living off the land.



Once you were found guilty of being a witch, one of the punishments was drowning. You were tied up and thrown into the water. The problem was if you survived and floated, you were guilty but if you sank and drowned, you were then classed as innocence. Witches were also hung but in England and Wales, they were never burnt at the stake.


A book published around 1486 was called MALLEUS MALEFICARUM. It was written by Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger. It was known as The Witchfinders Bible. The book contained the folklore surrounding black magic, an affirmation of the existence of witches, detailed description of witchcraft and a users guide to torturing confessions out of a reluctand victim.






Some of Cheshire's most famous alleged witches include:----

BRIDGET BOSTOCK
whom I have written about already in my blog, she came from Coppenhall, Crewe.

ALICE CAWLEY
Alice was known as The Old Witch of Kelsall. She lived during the 19th century. There is a tale that she kept a live toad under her bed. She was a little eccentric but well liked.

MARY WITTON
Mary lived near Northwich around the late 19th century. She had nine children and people went to her with all sorts of aches and pains. Mary would write rhymes and charms on pieces of brown paper and sold them as cures. The sick person had to say their magis rhyme before a full moon and they would be cured. She too must have been well liked.

ELLEN BEECH
Ellen lived near Macclesfield during the 1600's. She was tired and hung in October 1656 at Chester for practising certain arts.

ANNE OSBASTON
Anne also lived near Macclesfield and she too was hung in October 1656 for practising certain arts. Both ELLEN and MARY were blamed for some of the villagers of Rainow falling ill and dying.

ANNE THORNTON
She lived in Eaton near Chester and she was hung after being found guilty of witchcraft.

MARY BAGULEY
Mary lived in Wildboarclough. She was charged of killing Robert Hall at Wincle through magic. She was brought to trail on April 26th 1675 at Chester. She was found guilty and hung.

MARY WORTHINGTON
Mary lived in Stockport around 1873. People claimed she was a witch because she could manipulate people. She frightened people into giving her money. If they refused, she claimed to cast an evil eye over them.