A pedlar trying to reach the inn at Gradbach was benighted in the woods around the Dane valley and sought shelter in an isolated house. He was admitted, seated beside the fire (between two bloodhounds) and given ale. As he dozed, a little girl came out of the kitchen and said “Oh, what plump hands he has, they’ll make lovely pies”. Alarmed, the pedlar retreated to the door and ran, only to be pursued by the family from the house – and the bloodhounds. He took refuge in the river, under a bridge, and escaped towards Gradbach, but the hounds picked up his scent again and he was pursued. He reached Gradbach, his cries for help awakened the villagers, and he was admitted to a house and given a bed. The villagers went to the isolated house, found the property of other travellers who had disappeared – and several bones – and dragged all the members of the family outside and hanged them; except for the little girl, who escaped through the woods on to the moors, looking for a nice plump adult to take care of her. [Read more…] about The Pedlar and the Cannibals
Superstition was rife in Peak District villages during the late 17th century. Here in Wincle, when local man Robert Hall died and the cause of death wasn’t obvious, people were quick to blame Mary Bagueley of Wildboarclough, three miles from Robert’s cottage. Mary seemed to have an unusual affinity for the frogs that lived in the stream outside her cottage in Wildboarclough because she spent a good deal of time in their company; and there was rumoured to be bad blood between her and Robert, though she was known to have visited him three or four times in the days and weeks before he died.
Mary was arrested by the parish constables and taken before the Assize at Chester. The case hinged on the little elm-wood box of dried herbs that Mary admitted to having left in Robert’s cottage. The herbalist summoned as witness couldn’t identify them, and Mary knew them by unfamiliar names. It was enough to prove that Mary was a witch. The verdict was inevitable. On the sixteenth of October 1675, Mary was convicted of killing Robert Hall of Wincle by magic, and on the following morning she was hanged. [Read more…] about The Witch of Wildboarclough
This folktale from the White Peak is one of many that involves a hob. Hobs are “working class” fairies akin to Scottish Brownies and German Kobolds, part nature spirit and part household spirit. If you get one in your house it will do the chores – provided you reward it every night with ale and porridge. The cave to which the hob in this story runs is called “Thirst House”. We don’t know whether “Thirst” is a corruption of “Hob o’ th’ hurst” (hob of the wood) or whether it derives from the Old English “Thyrst”, meaning giant; hobs were sometimes size-shifters rather than shape-shifters, and on a farm they could do the work of ten men. Elsewhere in the Peak District you’ll find references e.g. to “Hob Hurst’s House”, pointing to the same possible etymologies.
There’s nothing in Chelmorton village itself to reflect this tale, though the village and especially its lovely church merit a visit, but if you’re fit enough to walk down Deep Dale you can see Thirst House cave… allegedly an entrance to the Otherworld where fairy folk dwell. [Read more…] about The Chelmorton Hob
The village of Sheldon is home to a bizarre, lesser known Derbyshire legend – The Sheldon Duck.
The story goes that in 1601 a duck was witnessed entering an ash tree and mysteriously disappearing. This odd tale was passed down the generations and the site became known as the ‘Duck Tree’.
In the early 1900s the Duck Tree became unsafe and was cut down. A local joiner purchased the tree to cut into boards – only to find an oddly duck-shaped impression on the wood inside!
The boards themselves have been lost to history. They were displayed for a time at Ashford-on-the-Water Post Office – but were later incorporated into mantelpiece by the timber merchant who felled the tree.
A photographic print at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery shows the alleged duck. Is the story true? We’ll let you decide.
This print at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery reveals the story of the Sheldon DuckRead on for a transcription of the text.
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This mummified moggy, which is still recognizable from its twisted tail to its carnivorous claws, was found encased within the walls of Buxton’s former Post Office in the Quadrant during building work, and may possibly date back to the 1870’s. Now, why might you have a cat entombed within your walls I hear you ask?
Theories surrounding their presence vary, but it was actually remarkably common to find strange and peculiar objects concealed within buildings during the Early Modern period until well into the Twentieth Century. These items included witch-bottles, horse skulls, shoes, written charms and, of course, dried cats.
Many skeptics would scoff at the idea that these felines were purposely placed within buildings to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and to protect against pestilence and dark magic. Instead claiming that they simply crawled into a tight space and became stuck.
Was this simply a case of ‘curiosity killed the cat’ or is there more to it?