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, 26 April 2011

PRIESTY FIELDS, CONGLETON





Priesty Fields got its name from the legend that there wasnt a Priest to perform services at Congleton. The nearest Priest was based at nearby Astbury. He would walk along an ancient medieval pathway which ran across these fields between the Parish Church at Astbury and St Peter's Church in Congleton.





This pathway crosses Howty Brook. The bridge's foundations date from the 11th century. The brook was the town's source of drinking water until it became polluted.



The first photo is St Peter's Church and the second is the parish church at Astbury.








This area is the scene of my next two tales.

TREASURE AT PRIESTY FIELDS

A hoard of three and a half thousand silver coins were found not far from the bridge in April 1992. The coins were sealed in two ceramic pots and two ceramic wine flagons. The coins were made up of sixpences, shillings, half crowns and crowns These coins were from the reigns of Edward 6th, Philip and Mary, Elizabeth 1st, James 1st, Chearle 1st and Charles 2nd.

It is said, they belonged to a Royalist named John Walker. He died in 1672. He was a local business man as well as Mayor. The coins are now on show at Northwich Salt Museum.

But why did John Walker have to hide these coins and is there anymore still hidden? And why this place?

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MURDER AT PRIESTY FIELDS

I have already written a version of this story in "MURDER IN NORTHWICH", but since I had put that on my blog, I have heard about this version.

In November 1776, the people of Congleton were peparing for an annual fair. This is known as a hiring fair, this was the time when workers/labours who were seeking employment or a change in jobs would come and talk to employers at the fair. Once a bargin or terms had been made, it was sealed by the employer handing over a shilling and the new employee would start on the 1st January.

Anne Smith was a Ballad Singer. Two weeks before the fair, she was lodging in Congleton and earing a living singing ballards in public houses. She told the people where she was loding that she was going away but she would return before the fair.

Samuel Thorley was a Butcher's assistant and part time cattle slaughter and grave digger.

The two met in Astbury village on a wednesday afternoon, two days before the fair. For whatever reason, Mary agreed to go with Samuel to Priesty Fields. Once there, Samuel killed Mary. He cut up her body and disposed of most of it by nearby Howty Brook.

On Saturday morning, after the fair, Mr Newman Garside, a weaver, and a young boy who was helping him came across a terrible sight. They had taken Mr Garside's cows down to Priesty Fields to graze and they saw a cloak on the ground on the other side of the brook. When they went for a closer look, they had noticed that this cloak had blood on. The Police had been called and a search had started. This was when poor Mary's body was found in several pieces.

Samuel fell immediately into suspicion, he was arrested for Mary's murder and taken to Chester. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Such was the outcry in Congleton, that his body was brought back and he was hung at its western boundary line for everyone to see.

THE IMAGE HOUSE, BUNBURY


This house dates from the early 1800's and was part of the Peckforton Estate. It is located on the Whitchurch road, near Bunbury Heath.

It was built by Seth Shone on common land, using an old law "SQUATTERS RIGHTS". This law stated that if you could build a house in twenty four hours and have smoke coming from its chimmey, the property became yours. Seth completed this and lived in the house until he was wrongly convicted of poaching. He was deported to Australia. He served eight years and then he returned home. Once home, he started carving stone faces, some say they were the faces of the people who wrongly accused and sentenced him..... the Bailiff, Judge, Gamekeeper and the Jury. He also carved a jackdaw and a fox.


Seth cursed all the stone faces. He also made a stone face which represented the Devil (so that the curse remained). These were then placed on the exterior of his house.








This house was featured in a book THE SHINY NIGHT by Beatrice Tunstall and it was know as the Clock Abbot.

Below the Peckforton Hills by the Peckforton Mere, there was another house with similar stone heads.

Monday, 25 April 2011

DICK TURPIN

We have all read the books, seen the films and/or watched the t.v shows, showing this charater. I am sure we all remember the popular 1970's television series Dick Turpin starring Richard O'Sullivan or even the 1974 Carry on film, Carry on Dick starring Sid James and others.

But as with all historical events, legend and fact are often mixed together. Dick Turpin has been romanticised as a dashing and heroic highwayman but, as we will find out, he was in fact a violent criminal, fugitive and murderer. Not the gentleman highwayman at all.

Richard Turpin was born on the 21st September 1705 at (according to legend) The Spaniards Inn near Hampstead, Essex. Although according to parish records and notes made during his trial, he was born at The Blue Bell Inn, Hampstead. He was baptized on the 21st September 1706 and died on the 7th April 1739 in York.

His father was the licensee of The Blue Bell Inn (later the Rose and Crown). It is said that this is where Dick Turpin got invloved with the smugglers from the coast of East Anglia, as his father knew them.

By the age of 16, Turpin moved to the Whitechapel area of London and took an apprenticeship as a butcher.

Turpin was 23 when he married his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Millington in 1728 and moved to Buckhurst Hill, Essex. Turpin opened his own butcher's shop. This would lead Turpin on his criminal path. Instead of paying suppliers for his stock, Turpin stole his stock. He was caught stealing two oxen and had to flee leaving behind his wife and business. He hid in the caves along the coast of East Anglia, perhapes mixing with the smugglers he had met as a child. He moved to Epping Forest some time later.

While hiding in the forest, he got involved with The Gregory Gang (otherwise known as The Essex Gang). They were about 20 in this group and they were famous for poaching the King's royal game. Poaching from the King was considered high treason. If caught you faced the gallows or worse, hung, drawn and quartered.

There were three ringleaders of the Gregory Gang, they were Samuel, Jasper and Jeremy Gregory (all brothers). The other gangmembers included:- Thomas Hadfield, Thomas Barnfield, Thomas Rowden, Mary Brazier, John Fielder, Herbert Haines, John Jones, James Parkinson, Joseph Rose, Ned Rust, William Saunders, Humphry Walker and John Wheeler.

The gang were involved in poaching and armed robbery. They would force themselves into usually isolated houses and terrorise the occupants until they got what they wanted.

By 1735, the London Evening Post regularly reported what Turpin and The Essex Gang were doing. Even King George 11 had offered a reward of £50 for their capture.

On 8th February 1735, the Read's Journal reported on the gang's last criminal activity. It is the best surviving account of the gang's activites. It is known as The Loughton Incident. " On Saturday night (1st Feb) last, five rogues entered the house of Widow Shelley at Loughton in Essex, having pistols, and threatened to murder the old lady, if she would not tell them where her money lay, which she obstinately refusing for some time, they threatened to lay her across the fire, if she did not instantly tell them, which she would not do. But her son being in the room, and threatened to be murdered, cried out, he would tell them if they would not murder his mother, and did, whereupon they went upstairs, and took near £100, a silver tankard, and other plate, and all manner of household goods."

"They afterwards went into the cellar and drank several bottles of ale and wine, and broiled some meat, ate the relicts of a filet of veal. While they were doing this, two of the gang went to Mr Turkles, a farmer, who rents one end of the widow's house, and robbed him of above £20, and then they all went off, taking two of the farmer's horses, to carry off their luggage, the horses were found on Sunday the following morning in Old Street."

This was the end of The Gregory Gang. Shortly after the Loughton incident, constables tracked them down whilst the gang were in a tavern in Westminster. Turpin and Thomas Hadfield escaped by jumping out of a window.

Most of the gang were captured and executed including the three brothers.

Turpin joined forces with another member of the gang who escaped and that was Thomas Rowden.

They changed their tactics from robbing isolated farmhouses to robbing stage coaches passing through Epping Forest. Now Turpin was a highwayman. He joined forces with Tom King. Tom was known as The Gentleman Highwayman. He was also known as Captain King. He was dashing and was kind and flattering to his victims. This proved to be a highly successful partnership.

They established a hide out at the remains of an Iron Age Fort, now known as Loughton Camp. From this area in Epping Forest, they could watch a certain road without being seen. They robbed just about everyone who travelled on it, even peddlars started to carry weapons for protection.

By the middle 1730's, the bounty on Turpin's head was just over £100.

By May 1735, Turpin had probably became a murderer. His first kill is said to be Thomas Morris on 4th May. Morris was a servant of Henry Thomson (one of the keeper's of Epping Forest). Morris accidentally came across Turpin at Fairmead Bottom, Near Laughton. Morris tried to capture Turpin so he could claim the reward but Turpin shot him.

Now I will tell you how Turpin found Black Bess. One night while riding on the London road on the way to met Tom King. He saw a beautiful black horse ridden by Mr Major. Turpin pointed a musket in his face and forced him to swop horses. Mr Majors informed the constables about his horse and named Turpin as the thief. The horse was traced to The Red Lion pub in Whitechapel (where Turpin had stabled it). Tom King went to collect the horse for Turpin but he was recognised and arrested. Turpin had been watching and opened fire on the constables. King broke free but it is said that Turpin shot him by mistake. Believing that he had killed his friend, Turpin fled on Black Bess. As King lay dying from his gunshot wound, he told the surviving constables the locations of their hideouts. Perhapes he was seeking revenge for Turpin shooting him.

It was at this time that Turpin was said to have rode Black Bess to York. We all know that this ride is nearlly impossible to have happened the way it is written in folklore but Turpin could have travelled this path, stopping at a tavern or two and it taken longer. Now it is well known that Turpin first rode into Lincolnshire following the Whitechapel skirmish, then to the Humber, into the Yorkshire town of Brough, near Hull, before making his first visit to York.

Turpin took up a new life in the North of England and called himself John Palmer. He bought barns and stables in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. He posed as a wealthy and respectable horse dealer. But what his customers didnt know was that he was dealing in stolen horses. John Palmer was caught and arrested in the early part of 1739. He was caught shooting his landlord's gamecock and threatening to shoot a bystander. He was living at The Ferry Inn at Brough, 12 miles from Hull at the time. He was found out regarding the horse stealing and tranferred to the dungeons of York's Debtor's Prison (now part of York Castle Museum).

From his cell, he wrote to his brother in law for help but the postage was payable by the recipient and Turpin's brother in law refused to pay the sixpence postage. The unread letter fell into the hands of John Smith, the village postmaster and schoolmaster. He recognised the handwriting and travelled to York to identify Palmer as Turpin. John Smith collected a £2oo reward.

On 22nd March 1739, Richard Turpin alias John Palmer, was convicted of being a horse rustler. But he was never convicted of being a highwayman.

On 7th April 1739, Dick Turpin rode through the streets of York, dressed in his new clothes and shoes, bowing to the crowds that lined the streets. At York Knavesmire (now the racecourse), he climbed to the scaffold and addressed the crowd for half an hour. Ironically, Turpin's hangman was Thomas Hadfield, once Turpins friend and former Gregory Gang. He was pardoned because he had agreed to be the hangman. Perhapes, this is why when Turpin found out and saw him, he threw himself off the ladder.

Turpin's body was buried at St George's Churchyard. His body was buried in quicklime so to destroy the remains quickly. A headstone in the churchyard commemorates him but it is not at the correct location. His remains have never been found.

But what has this to do with Cheshire. There are three pubs in Cheshire that have a long history of Dick Turpin. It is claimed that he stayed in .................................


THE HAWK INN, HASLINGTON, NR CREWE










THE SARACENS HEAD, WARBURTON, NR LYMM








THE KILTON, KNUTSFORD