Category Archives: By County

The Doctor and the Devil

The Devil on HorsebackLONGDENDALE has always been noted for the number of its inhabitants devoted to the study of magic arts. Once upon a time, or to give it in the words of an unpublished rhyme (which are quite as indefinite)—

“Long years ago, so runs the tale,
A doctor dwelt in Longdendale;”

and then the rhyme goes on to describe the hero of the legend—

“Well versed in mystic lore was he—
A conjuror of high degree;
He read the stars that deck the sky,
And told their rede of mystery.”

Coming down to ordinary prose, it will suffice to say that the doctor referred to was a most devoted student of magic, or, as he preferred to put it—“a keen searcher after knowledge”—a local Dr. Faustus in fact. Having tried every ordinary means of increasing his power over his fellow mortals, he finally decided to seek aid of the powers of darkness, and one day he entered into a compact with no less a personage than His Imperial Majesty, Satan, otherwise known as the Devil. The essentials of this agreement may thus be described.

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The Giant of Sessay

The Darrel family owned Sessay (a small Yorkshire village around 4 miles from Thirsk) from the end of the 12th century to the days of Henry VII. It was during reign of that king, that the three sons of George Darrel died without fathering heirs, the manor therefore passed to his daughter — a strong-minded young woman, named Joan.

Taking advantage of the lack of a lord to defend the manor an evil giant took up residence in the woods around the village. He was a huge brute in human form — legs like elephants’ legs, arms of a corresponding size, a face most fierce to look upon, with only one eye, placed in the midst of his forehead; and a mouth large as a lion’s, garnished with teeth as long as the prongs of a pitchfork.

His only clothing was rudely fashioned from cow hides; while over his shoulder he carried a stout young tree, torn up by the roots, as a club.

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Bowd Slasher

For hundreds of years the Peace Egg or Pace Egg play was a common part of the Easter festivities in Lancashire with bands of disguised mummers going from house to house presenting their play.

Gradually what was once an adult tradition became one enacted by children often gaining more in donations than their parents could earn in the wool and cotton industries.

Below is an contemporary observation of one of these performances by the Lancashire dialect writer John Trafford Clegg (Th’ Owd Weighver)

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In Olden Days – Legends of Rochdale and its Neighbourhood by Rev. G. R. Oakley

Rev. George Robert Oakley (1864-1932) was born in Dublin but his family moved to Yorkshire when he was an infant.

He was educated at Sheffield Royal Grammar School and St. Aidan’s Theological College, Birkinhead. When the church of St. Andrew’s, Dearnley was completed in 1895 he became the first vicar of that church.

During this time he collected together the myths and legends of the local area for this book.

In 1923 he became the Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Illingworth returning over the border into Yorkshire until his death.

His stories in this volume are

  • The Legend of Stubley Hall
  • The Legend of Clegg Hall
  • The Legend of Belfield Hall
  • The Legend of Dearnley
  • The Legend of Butterworth Hall
  • The Legend of Rochdale Castle
  • The Legend of Castleton
  • The Legend of Buckley Hall
  • The Legend of Tunshill
  • The Legend of Ashworth Chapel
  • The Legend of Littleborough
  • The Legend of the Monstone
  • The Legend of Schofield Hall
  • The Legend of Healey Dell
  • The Legend of the Calderbrook Torque
  • The Legend of the Baum Rabbit
  • The Legend of Royton Hall
  • The Legend of Brown Wardle
  • The Legend of Stubbylee

AVAILABLE @ LULU.COM £11.99

Through England on a Side Saddle by Celia Fiennes

Through England on a Side SaddleCelia Fiennes is remarkable for the journeys she made, in an effort regain her health, riding through the English countryside.

As well as more local journeys she made two epic tours in 1697 and 1698 travelling as far as northern England and Scotland.

Travelling for it’s own sake was unusual in her day, there being few roads, even more unusual for a woman to travel (only accompanied by two servants).

Her accounts of her travels seem to have been written around 1702, after she had retired from travelling, and were never published within her lifetime.

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM £10.99

Also available for Kindle

Yorkshire Battles by Edward Lamplough

Yorkshire Battles - Edward LamploughIn the history of our national evolution Yorkshire occupies a most important position, and the sanguinary record of Yorkshire Battles possesses something more than material for the poet and the artist. Valour, loyalty, patriotism, honour and self-sacrifice are virtues not uncommon to the warrior, and the blood of true and brave men has liberally bedewed our fields.

It was on Yorkshire soil that the tides of foreign invasion were rolled back in blood at Stamford Bridge and Northallerton; the misfortunes attendant upon the reign of weak and incapable princes are illustrated by the fields of Boroughbridge, Byland Abbey, and Myton-upon-Swale, and, in the first days of our greatest national struggle, the true men of Yorkshire freely shed their blood at Tadcaster, Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Adwalton Moor and Hull, keeping open the pathway by which Fairfax passed from Selby to Marston Moor.

Let pedants prate of wars of kites and crows; we take national life as a unity, and dare to face its evolution through all the throes of birth, owning ourselves debtors to the old times before us, without being either so unwise or ungenerous as to contemn the bonds of association, and affect a false and impossible isolation.

To the educated and intelligent our Yorkshire Battles present interesting and important studies of those subtle and natural processes by which nations achieve liberty, prosperity, and greatness.

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM – £9.99

Also available for Kindle

Robin Hood’s Visit to Longdendale.

Robin Hood, the greatest bowman that old England ever knew, frequently visited Longdendale. Probably the “thick woods of Longden,” with their wealth of wild red deer, induced him to lead his band from the haunts of merrie Sherwood to the no less merrie land of Longdendale.

Old traditions tell of a “mighty forest in Longdendale, whose trees were so thick that the squirrels could leap from branch to branch from Mottram to Woodhead.” Such a country might well attract a lover of the free forest life like bold Robin Hood; moreover, there ran a road over a good portion of Longdendale, along which the fat old Abbots of Basingwerke were wont to convey their treasures from their township of Glossop, to their fine abbey seat in Wales. Doubtless the Abbot dreaded a meeting with the mighty outlaw, for Robin dearly loved to pluck a fat-bellied churchman that he might place the golden nobles in the pouches of the poor.

This story, however, has nothing to do with the robbing of the Abbots or Monks of Basingwerke. It is a story of skill and fabulous strength. Indeed, there are many who doubt that the incidents related ever occurred—simply because such things seem impossible. But then those incidents are recorded in the traditions of the people of Longdendale, and, consequently, they are worthy of serious consideration. He must be either an amazingly bold or an exceedingly ignorant man, who would cast a doubt on the veracity of a Longdendale tradition. Read more »

The Giant’s Cairn, the Last Battle and the Lady of the Lake

In just a few weeks I’ll be scaling Snowdon’s lofty heights with a group of friends. It’s been suggested that as the leader of this expedition I should be able to point out landmarks and the history of the place.

1. (Walk) Entering the Horseshoe

2. (Legend) The Giant’s Cairn

3. (Walk) Ascent of Y Lliwedd

4. (Legend) The Last Battle

5. (Walk) The Watkin Path and summit

6. (Walk) Descending the Pyg Track

7. (Legend) The Lady of the Lake

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Robin Hood and the Monstone

The Monstone Looking towards Blackstone Edge

Blackstone Edge on the horizon

From “In Olden Days” by Rev. G. R. Oakley, M.A., B.D.,

The glorious beauty of an early autumn morning, the sweet scent of the wide-stretching moorland, the invigorating breeze from the east sweeping over the hills, the occasional calls of the birds or the flutter of their wings, all combined (as they still combine) to make life seem more than usually joyous on a certain day in the year 1247, when a company of men might have been seen assembled on that part of Blackstone Edge which we now call “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

Robin Hood's Bed

Robin Hood’s Bed

Stalwart fine fellows were they, clothed in well-fitting tunics of the fashion of the day, and of a colour so like that of grass that one could readily understand how easily the owners might lie in ambush in some parts of the country—in forest lands, for instance—were they so disposed.

There were at least a hundred men, and every man was armed, most of them with that splendid English weapon, the long-bow, which in later days gained Crecy and Poictiers and Agincourt, and the use of which Bishop Latimer (in 1549) described as “a godly art, a wholesome kind of exercise, and much commended in physic.” Many of them, however, carried quarter-staves—tough poles of wood some seven feet long, shod at each end with iron, and which, when grasped in the hands of athletic men and twirled with practised skill, became terrible weapons, one blow from which usually terminated a combat.

These archers and others—all clad in the costume of Lincoln green already described—made a striking picture as they stood in a semi-circle listening intently to the words of the man who stood upon one of those great stones which still mark “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

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