THE EXTRAORDINARY LOCAL HISTORIES OF CHESHIRE, DERBYSHIRE AND STAFFORDSHIRE
The Phantom Rebel: In Search of the Headless Horseman of the Staffordshire Moorlands
The Headless Horseman of the Staffordshire Moorlands is one of the best-known pieces of folklore in the region, but where did it come from? Tracing the story of the horseman back through 650 years of local history, we uncover the shocking true story of medieval murder that lies at the heart of the spectre's inspiration.
Death of the Jagger: John Turner and the Mysterious Birth of Jenkin Chapel
The manner of John Turner's death and the creation of Jenkin Chapel are two of the most curious bookmarks in the history of Cheshire's peak border region. But by considering both events together with the darker history of the area, we may discover that old country superstitions still had remarkably strong ties to local belief structure during the early part of the eighteenth century.
The Magic Hatters: Understanding the Story of the Bakewell Witches
The story of the Bakewell witches is unique within the annals of English witchcraft and a tale thought by some to be so fantastical that it may not even be true. Yet research cannot only place the event firmly in the context of the times, but it can also help create a picture of the events that originally brought the story into being.
Industrial Magic: The Real Wizards of Alderley Edge
The image of the wizard has become synonymous with the Cheshire village of Alderley Edge largely thanks to a nineteenth-century legend. Yet the deeper history of the area suggests that the village's connection to such magical figures may be the result of a very real, if extraordinary, historical legacy.
The Talbot Curse: Lady Gwendoline and the Legend of the Chained Oak
The Chained Oak of Alton may be a unique piece of British folklore, but its creation story suffers from such a swathe of supposition that many have come to assume there is no genuine historical basis for the legend at all. Yet in the tragic history of the family who sit at the heart of the story, we may well find that the tale is indeed rooted in reality - as we look to uncover why an ancient oak tree has been wrapped in iron chains for the better part of the past 200 years.
The Meltdown Murders: Castor's Bridge and Borderland Smelters
Throughout the three-shires border region, where East Cheshire, Peak District Derbyshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands intertwine, tales of yore are peppered with dark legends of cannibalism and murder. But could there be more to the historical rumours than mere fear mongering and folk warnings of the wild? Could they actually be true?
Changing Gods: Mercian Christianity and the Fallen Stones of Arbor Low
Arbor Low is regarded as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the north of England and a bastion of our ancient cultural identity, but its vision comes complete with the seemingly unanswerable conundrum as to how its once magnificent stone circle came to be pulled down and laid flat. Could the mystery become a little clearer when placed against the location's direct and intimate connections to the religious wars of dark age Britain?
King of Chaos: The Strange Lives of Samuel Johnson
The figure of Samuel Johnson serves to both intrigue and fascinate, but so little of his story has been properly examined that ultimately he is little understood beyond triviality. Seeking to address that balance by casting a light across the life of one of the most remarkable and bizarre characters in all of Cheshire history, we discover that sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.
The Local Crusader: Ranulph de Blondeville and the Saracens of Biddulph Moor
There are few more curious associations in local legend than that of Saracen prisoners being settled on the land that is now known as the Staffordshire Moorlands village of Biddulph Moor. Travelling back to the thirteenth century to discover the untold story behind the legend, we reach a place where the adventures of the crusades meet with the dark realities of the medieval slave trade under the patronage of one of the most powerful figures in all of local history.