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.
Scholar of Magic: Ranulf Higden and the Wands of Chester Cathedral
The Cheshire monk Ranulf Higden is remembered to historians today as the author of a distant world history from the fourteenth century. However, beyond his daily religious work in the abbey at Chester, he was an inquisitive and curious man of his age; traits that can help us understand better why such a figure of Christian piety would come to be buried with a notorious totem of the magical arts.
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.
The Hungry Prophet: The Legendary Sale of Robert Nixon
The story of Robert Nixon, the 'Cheshire prophet’ starved to death by the king, was once the best known legend of the county, retold and republished dozens of times across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Precisely who the man was however, has always been something of a mystery, with many assuming he was little more than a fairy tale. Yet research suggests that not only was Robert a real-life figure, but that his bizarre and tragic end might just have been a reality too.
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.
Blood In the Barley: The Hidden Story of the Vale Royal Rebellion
The Vale Royal Rebellion is a medieval tale of murder, manipulation and struggle set amidst one of the most turbulent periods in all of English history. Yet it is only when we bring the contributing political factors, key players and major events of the story together as one, that we can really appreciate just what a remarkable piece of Cheshire history the story truly is.
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.
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?
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.