Category Archives: Places

Rochdale Town Hall Fire


Rochdale Town Hall before the fire

Rochdale Town Hall prior to the fire of 1883

Rochdale Town Hall, is a fine example of gothic revival architecture and home to some of the best modern stained glass in the world. The grandeur of this building was such that according to local legend, Hitler had plans to take the building stone by stone back to Germany if he won the war. This is also supposedly the reason why Rochdale, despite it’s industry, escaped pretty much unscathed during the German bombings.

A competition was held to produce a design for the building which was won by William Henry Crossland. Work started in 1866 on the site of an abandoned 17th Century mansion and was completed five years later at a cost of £160,000 (eight times the original budget, and a remarkable sum for a town the size of Rochdale.) the work was so costly that to this day some of the internal decoration remains unfinished.

But what visitors to the town may not know is that the building you see today is different from the original.

The original clock tower was 134 feet high and had a 106 foot wooden spire richly gilded and surmounted by figures of Saint George and the Dragon.

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Beth Gelert; or, the Grave of the Greyhound

To the south of the villiage of Beddgelert in The Snowdonia National Park is a small stone monument marks the resting place of Gelert the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.



The spearmen heard the bugle sound,
And cheerly smiled the morn;
And many a brach, and many a hound,
Obeyed Llewelyn’s horn.

And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a lustier cheer:
‘Come, Gelert come, wer’t never last
Llewelyn’s horn to hear.

‘Oh where does faithful Gelert roam,
The flower of all his race;
So true, so brave, a lamb at home,
A lion in the chase?’

‘Twas only at Llewelyn’s board
The faithful Gelert fed;
He watched, he served, he cheered his lord,
And sentinelled his bed. Read more »

The Construction of Stonehenge

Situated on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Stonehenge is probably the most iconic monument in the whole of Europe. The construction of this megalithic structure is thought to have been begun with the bank and ditch around 3000BC and there is evidence of several phases of construction over the next 1500 years.

The significance of the site may be much older as mesolithic postholes dated to circa 8000BC were found in the area now used for the visitor car park.

The origins of Stonehenge proper dates from around the time when early neolithic people started deforesting Salisbury Plain to make way for their farms. There is also a proliferation of long-barrow tombs in the area from this time.



The first stage of construction of the monument we see today was a bank and ditch 360ft (110m) in diameter. Recent excavation at Durrington Walls, thought to be a campsite for the builders suggests that around 4,000 people from all over the country gathered at the site at the mid-summer and mid-winter festivals.

Also dating from this time are the series of 56 pits (known as Aubrey holes) that form a circle within the outer edge of the enclosed area. Excavation of these holes revealed cremated remains and the chalk underlying these graves was crushed suggesting heavy stone grave markers.

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Stott Hall Farm – A Modern Myth

In the 1970′s, the M62 (built to connect Hull and Liverpool) forged it’s way across the rugged Pennine hills making it the highest motorway in England. Just over the border into Yorkshire lies Stott Hall Farm, instantly recognisable to anyone who has traveled this route and quite a few who haven’t.

The farmhouse (built in 1737) now stands isolated by the two carriageways of this busy motorway, which pass to either side. Modern mythology would have us believe that this was all down to the stubbornness of Ken Wild, the man who lived in the farm at the time.

Whilst hundreds of homes were demolished to make way for this major artery across the country, Stott Hall Farm remained standing. Despite offers of ludicrously large sums of money by bowler-hatted civil servants who reluctantly came up from Whitehall to this desolate location, the farmer refused to budge and the Government was forced instead to change the plans at great expense.

The truth is, that it was the land itself that forced the mile long rent, the waterlogged moorland and steep incline on the hill making it impossible (at the time at least) to construct the two carriageways side by side without the land slipping and destroying the construction.

The Goblin Builders of Rochdale

In the time of the Doomsday Book, Rochdale was known as Recedham, an area ruled by Gamel the Saxon Thane. As thanks for his good fortune in keeping his manor in the wake of the Norman Conquest, he decided to build a church dedicated to Saint Chad on the bank of the river Roach.

The materials for construction were brought in and the foundations laid, yet overnight the whole construction, foundations and all, were mysteriously moved to the summit of the hill on the opposite bank.

This seemingly impossible deed led Gamels vassals to believe that this was the work of the Old Gods that their forefathers had worshiped and whose altars had been thrown down with the spread of Christianity.

John de Spotland (a subordinate Lord) had the construction moved once again to the original site and called for a watch to be set on the site to capture the delinquents responsible. It took fifty stout men and much difficulty to bring the materials back down the hill and across the river.

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