A Victorian tourist attraction
Sir Philip Brocklehurst who owned nearby Swythamley hall and also the land that Ludchurch can be found on exploited this natural landmark by turning it into a famous tourist attraction in the late 1800s. He had a gate fitted to the entrance of Ludchurch where a member of his staff would charge visitors a halfpenny entrance fee, in fact this was quite beneficial to the local community as farmers decked out their horse drawn wagons with their best linen and collected tourists from Leek railway station bringing them up through a purpose made road which even today can still be seen.
Remains of the old tourist road.
This ancient road ends at a place called Castle cliffs, which gains its name from the fact that the rocks when viewed from a certain angle resemble the fortifications of a castle. The tourists would alight from the farmers carriage at this point and make their way by following a footpath to the entrance of Ludchurch which is about 300 yards away.
When the tourists would have reached Ludchurch and entered the ravine by way of the carved steps which lead down into the chasm, they would have seen what appeared to be s strange statue which had been placed high up in a niche on one of the walls of Ludchurch. The reason that Sir Philip Brocklehurst had done this was thought to be to embelish the story of Walter de Lud Auk using Ludchurch as a religious gathering place. In fact the statue was actually the figure head off a ship he owned, the H.M.S Swythamley, it seems that Sir Philip was not only an astute business man but also was blessed with an imaginative mind.
The photograph above shows a view of Ludchurch as it would have been at the time of Sir Philip Brocklehurst, and also the same view taken today. If you look carefully at the right hand image you may be able to spot the figure head from H.M.S Swythamley which resembled a statue.
Photographs by Gary Tacagni.