Rostherne Church & Mere
Nestled in the tranquil in the county of Cheshire can be found the small village of Rostherne. In the village the church of St Mary’s has a prominent position overlooking the mere. This body of water has a depth of 103 feet and is 3,750 feet at its widest point.
The mere has the reputation of being the home of a mermaid who makes her appearance once a year on Easter Sunday. She is said to be heard singing and ringing a sunken bell which was said to have been lost in the mere whilst being transported to Rostherne church. Another part of the legend claims that the mermaid reaches the mere via a subterranean tunnel which is said to be connected to either the Irish sea or the river Mersey. However unlikely this may seem, there have been in the past reports of a fish known as a smelt found in the mere which has the ability to pass from a salt water existence into fresh water where it spawns before returning to the sea.
Unfortunately the last Smelt was caught in the 1920s, perhaps there is a grain of truth to the legend after all. Another interesting story associated with Rostherne church is the Lych-gate which provides access to the churchyard, this in the past was carefully avoided by newly married couples because it was believed that if they pass through it one of them would die during their first year of marriage. The belief that the Lych-gate was assocciated with death would have been widespread in the past, this may explain why the Lych-gate means corpse gate, another explanation would be the fact that Pall bearers would shelter under its roof from the rain while waiting for the priest to arrive.
Another interesting feature of this church can be found behind it on one of its corners overlooking the mere. It is said to be a Celtic head carved from sandstone which has either hair or horns on either side of its head. It has been speculated that it is associated with Cernives the horned God, it is said that the stone was pulled out of the mere and that it was part of a shrine.