The Fairies Chapel

Within a narrow gorge known as “The Thrutch” within Healey Dell nature reserve and now overshadowed by the viaduct hides a pool and waterfall, before the flood of 1838 which destroyed it, it also contained a cavern in the rock which had a pulpit, reading desk and seats, formed by the action of the water. This is still known as the Fairies Chapel.

In local folklore the Chapel was formed when the King of the Fairies, aiding Robert of Huntingdon to overcome a curse, turned a local coven of witches to stone.

“There” the King said, “practice your unholy rites. There you have a chapel for your evil worship. And long may it be ere any mortal be so foolish as to seek you out in your wicked den.”

In overcoming the witches, Robert was forced to sacrifice his uncle’s ring which was the only proof of his claim to the title of Huntingdon and thus took his first step towards his destiny as the outlaw Robin Hood.

The Fairies Chapel enters folklore once more during the reign of Edward IV (1461-1470) when Ralph the Miller enticed Eleanor Byron (the betrothed of Oliver Chadwyke) to the Fairies Chapel in return for his own soul.

Having himself been tricked into entering the Chapel whilst poaching, Ralph agreed to the exchange and set about a plan to convince Eleanor that he could make her “true love” appear to her.

Eleanor having been betrothed to Oliver since childhood questioned whether her future husband was the man for her, so agreed to go fortune hunting with the miller.

Having (at Ralph’s instruction) cast a token into the River Beal to carry her summons to her “one true love” she went to the Fairies Chapel at the appointed time, only to be confronted by the evil fairies intent on capturing her soul in exchange for immortality.

With her soul in mortal danger, her true love was indeed summoned to her and Oliver came to her rescue, breaking the spell which bound her.

The tale of Eleanor and Oliver was not to end happily, however. It was fortold that Eleanor would be “Maid, wife and widow, in one day!” and this came to pass when on return from their wedding the Traffords with whom the Chadwykes had a feud attacked slaying Oliver during the battle.

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