Category Archives: Lancashire

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

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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Lancashire Sketches by Edwin Waugh

Lancashire Sketches - Edwin WaughIn this volume, relating to a district with which the writer was intimately acquainted, he has gathered up a few points of local interest, and, in connection with these, he has endeavoured to embody something of the traits of life in South Lancashire with descriptions of its scenery, and with such gleanings from its local history as bore upon the subject, and, under the circumstances, were available to him.

Waugh is commemorated on the Rochdale Dialect Writers’ Memorial,

“In grateful memory of four Rochdale writers of the Lancashire dialect who have preserved for our children in verse and prose that will not die, the strength and tenderness, the gravity and humours of the folk of our day, in the tongue and talk of the people.”
Erected in the year 1900.

  • Chapel Island
  • Ramble from Bury to Rochdale
  • The Cottage of Tim Bobbin
  • The Birthplace of Tim Bobbin
  • Ramble from Rochdale to the Top of Blackstone Edge
  • The Town of Heywood and its Neighbourhood
  • The Grislehurst Boggart
  • Boggat Ho’ Clough
  • Rostherne Mere
  • Oliver Fernleaf’s Watch
  • Norbeck
  • Wails of the Workless Poor
  • A Wayside Incident During the Cotton Famine
  • Saint Catherine’s Chapel
  • The Knocker-Up
  • The Complaint of a Sad Complaint
  • Firelit Shed
  • Dulesgate
  • Pilling Moss
  • The Forest of Rossendale
  • Tattlin’ Mary
  • The Storm
  • Among the Preston Operatives

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM – £9.99

The Britannia Coconut Dancers

From the town of Bacup with blackened faces and unusual costumes comes a unique folk dance troup. The team dances several garland dances once common as part of rushbearing festivals around the area, but also a “nut dance” of which they now seem to be the sole surviving example.

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers, a folk dance troupe from Bacup in Lancashire, England.

Photo by Kezka Dantza Taldea Eibar

Whilst the clogs shirt and britches are traditional Lancashire, the white and red hooped skirt and white hat/turban seem more exotic in origin.

While Morris Dancing is rumoured to have been derived from the dances of the Moors, the African tribe that conquered large parts of Spain, Portugal and Southern France. The tradition danced by the Britannia dancers seems to have a more definite link. It is rumoured to have been taught to Cornish tin miners by Moors who came to this country and found employment in the mines. When the work in Cornwall became scarce during the 18th & 19th centuries some of the Cornish miners came to the North-West to work in the mines and quarries and brought the tradition with them.

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

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The Pace Egg Play

Children”Pace Egging” in Hebden Bridge.

The Pace Egg Plays are traditional village plays, with a rebirth theme, in which St George smites all challengers and the fool, Toss Pot, rejoices. The drama takes the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, often by a quack doctor.

The plays take place in England during Easter; indeed, the word ‘Pace’ comes from the old English word ‘pasch’ literally meaning ‘Easter’, but have also been known to have been performed at other religious celebrations such as Christmas.

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