The Treasure of Priesty Fields.
Between the town of Congleton and the quaint village of Astbury in the cheshire countryside can be found a number of fields with an ancient pathway running through them. This medieval pathway runs between the Parish church at Astbury and connects with St Peter’s church in Congleton which now stands on the place where Upper Chapel used to stand in the past, the pathway which is about two miles in length would have also connected with the lower Chapel which was often called Bridge Chapel also in the town of Congleton. The reason Priesty Fields acquired its name was that Congleton had not got a Priest to perform services at the time so a Priest had to walk from Astbury to Congleton to perform the service and this is how it obtained its name.
The medieval pathway that crosses Priesty Fields.
If you climb down into the stream bed of Howty brook and inspect this bridge you can still see the original foundations of the bridge that would have been here in the 11th century. The Howty brook would have originally supplied drinking water to the town of Congleton, however over the years it became polluted and the town was forced to use wells as a drinking supply. This would have changed in the late 1870s when water was pumped from Forge Wood into a water tower located at West Heath to supply the town.
The old bridge foundations can be seen in this photograph with the Howty brook flowing beneath it.
It was not far from this bridge that in April of 1992 a hoard of three and a half thousand silver coins were found. These consisted of sixpences, shillings, half crowns and crowns and they had been sealed in two ceramic pots and two ceramic wine flagons with a lead seal which had kept the elements out. Because no earth or water had contaminated the coins it meant that their condition had not deteriorated over the years as can be seen in this photograph. The coins were from the reigns of Edward the 6th, Philip and Mary, Elizabeth 1st, James the 1st, Charles 1st and Charles the 2nd. No Cromwellian coins were recovered as the person who had buried the hoard was a Royalist supporter by the name of John Walker who had in the past been Mayor of Congleton and had died in 1672. John Walker must have been a very wealthy man as his Royalist sympathies cost him dearly, he was fined three hundred pounds which would have been a small fortune back then! John Walker was known to be a local business man as well as the Mayor, he is known to have owned a shop in Congleton where the National Westminster bank is now located.
Mr Kieth Pay photographed at the site in Priesty Fields where he unearthed a hoard of coins valued at £3,000,000.
At the present time I have been given a copy of John Walker’s Last Will and Testament by Mr Kieth Pay which is dated 1666. The Will is written in Old English and it takes time to decipher, however it is Mr Pay’s belief that it may reveal clues to the whereabouts of a further hoard of coins. The hoard of coins that were discovered in 1992 did not contain any coins of low denomination, added to this I have found reference to plate money and two references to Priesty Fields in the Will, so all I can say is watch this space for further developments!