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

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


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