Big Fenton farm is a black and white half timbered house which has many legends attached to it. Legend has it that it was being carried through the air by angels in search of a suitable spot for it, they then became frightened by the jagged edges of Bosley Cloud and in their fright released the house. It fell to the ground on the crest of a small hill in the valley below the Cloud, the force of the impact caused the ground to split open, the angels decided to fill this hole with water so that the house could see its reflection in this silver mirror. It was then that the house became known as Big Fenton, Fent meaning split.
Big Fenton has existed since at least the 17th century as it was used as part of the setting for Beatrice Tunstalls novel “The Dark Lady”, which was about the Fyttons of Gawsworth, in her book it was known as Silverpit.
The Fent or split now filled with water
At one time there used to be a public footpath that went directly through the farmhouse, and where it exits at the back of the farmhouse there is a burial mound on the left by the doorstep. This mound is said to be the burial place of Shakespeare’s mistress, her ghost is said to haunt this spot and she is known as the Grey Lady.
When you look at the house from the side of the Fent, the wing on the left contains a chapel and ancient Latin writing can still be seen on its walls. On one side of the chapel outside there was a wooden structure very much like a pen, and on this was a large blood stain, said to have been there for centuries. Did this pen contain someone who was injured and therefore bleeding, and perhaps was in need of spiritual and physical healing at the chapel? Or then again there is the story that human sacrifices used to take place here a very long time ago, perhaps it has some sort of connection to the nearby Catstones on the Cloud where sacrifices took place to the Goddess Cathar.
Latin writing on the chapel wall
It is thought as I have stated previously that this house was used as part of the setting in the novel “The Dark Lady”, by Beatrice Tunstall which was about the Fyttons of Gawsworth hall. In the novel The house was known as Silverpit, and as in the novel there used to be a right of way through the house.
The old right of way
There is a dismounting block outside the front door where a person could dismount off their horse, lead it through the corridor which separates the kitchen from the living room, then remount their horse on the other side of the house.
The old dismounting block
The photograph below shows the door in the living room which leads onto the corridor and the public right of way, note the ancient wooden latch, this would have been used to deny the public access to the rest of the house!