The Hanging Bridge.

The small village of Mayfield which lies on the outskirts of the town of Ashbourne is located in the county of Staffordshire close to the border with Derbyshire. Mayfield is mentioned in the Domesday book and is said to date back over a thousand years to Saxon times, however the Hanging bridge which can be found on the outskirts of the village and carries the Leek to Ashbourne road acquired its name in the 1700s.

doveridge hanging bridge 006It was back in 1745 on the 7th of December of that year when Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army were forced to retreat from Derby and head back to Scotland. Mayfield happened to be one of the places the army passed through and the soldiers took out their frustrations on the local population. Many atrocities were said to have taken place and it was for this reason that many of the people who lived in Mayfield took shelter in the church, which today is known as St John’s.doveridge hanging bridge 009

The people sheltering inside the church must have been terrified as they had locked themselves inside and the Scottish soldiers were attempting to break in to get to them. Luckily they did not succeed but they did attempt to kill people in there by shooting through the front door and the bullet holes can still be seen to this day.

The bridge which now carries the Leek to Ashbourne road and which back in the 1700s would have been a more simple packhorse bridge, and the arches of the original bridge can still be seen where it spans the river Dove was the place where many of the Scottish soldiers who were caught for their crimes were hung.doveridge hanging bridge 017 It is said that gibbets were erected on the bridge and the soldiers were hung from these, however there may be some controversy over this version of events because in Mayfield there can be found a Gallowstree lane which leads up onto Gallowstree hill, it has been speculated that the Scottish soldiers were led up this lane onto the hill and this is where they were gibbeted.

doveridge hanging bridge 004The following story may be of interest to people reading this web page, because as I was taking photographs of St John the Baptist church here in Mayfield I came across a memorial stone in the churchyard in memory of the flight crew of a Wellington bomber which crashed nearby. The following story is from the Ashbourne News Telegraph which appeared on the 18-5-2011 and is as follows:

SECOND World War aeroplanes will fly past a village church to commemorate the deaths of six men killed there while training in 1944.

Mayfield's flypast

Mayfield’s flypast

The flypast is part of a memorial service organised by Mayfield Heritage Group, which uncovered an error in historical records and will, for the first time in 70 years, ensure a volunteer on the ill-fated flight, is correctly commemorated.

A memorial stone to the crew of the Wellington bomber, which crashed during a training flight on June 13, 1944, will be placed in the churchyard of St John the Baptist in Mayfield, just 200 yards from the crash site.

Relatives of some of the men killed in the crash will attend the memorial service, which will begin with a flypast by a Spitfire fighter plane and will be concluded with another flypast by a Second World War transporter plane, the Dakota.

And Royal Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Agnew will give a speech and unveil the memorial, which will be engraved with the names, ages and ranks of the men killed.doveridge hanging bridge 021

Mayfield Heritage Group member and voluntary driver Bob Carlise, aged 63, started to research the 1944 crash after he was inspired by conversations with former pilot Tony Lack while taking him to hospital.

The heritage group decided to look further into the crash and agreed to erect a memorial.

During research, the group discovered that the crew, which were thought to have been Canadian, in fact contained a Scottish volunteer by the name of Sergeant William G Paterson.

Sgt Paterson is not recorded as being killed on the training flight which crashed at Mayfield and his name on the memorial will be the first time in 70 years that the true account of his death will be recorded.

Mr Carlisle said: “There are people in the village who witnessed the crash, but it was a long time ago and memories are fading, so I brought it to the heritage group and asked them if they would like to do something with it and since then it has just grown and grown.” What had been planned as a simple memorial to six men killed while training for war, became a much larger project than Mayfield Heritage Group anticipated. An incorrect record had logged Frederick Potts as being one of the men killed on June 13, 1944. In uncovering the error, the group then had to delve into history to uncover the identity of the sixth man killed on the flight.doveridge hanging bridge 022

Mayfield Heritage Group secretary, Pat Smith, 75, remembers the day the crash happened in 1944 and will be sharing his memories with the congregation on June 12.

He told the News Telegraph: “History has now been put right and the memorial will be put in the churchyard just 200 yards from where the crash actually happened.

“I remember there was a massive explosion – they had bombs on board even though it was only a training flight.

“We went down to look after school — I was only eight years old.” In addition to the two flypasts, a quarter-size model of the Wellington bomber has been made by Ellastone man Ian Redshaw. The model, which has a wingspan of more than 20ft, is operated by remote control and, weather permitting, will also fly over the crash site as part of the dedication service.

Mr Carlisle added: “These were just six of the 55,573 men of bomber command who lost their lives in the war and their average age was just 22 years. One of the crew was just 19.

“This has put a bit of history into Mayfield and set the record straight.

“I’m just sorry that Tony Lack — who died last year — won’t be here to see it.”

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