John Nadens Ghost

Until the 1880s a gallows stood on Gun Hill in the Staffordshire Moorlands as a grim memorial to John Naden, whose decomposing body hung there in chains after his execution in 1731.

Naden murdered his master, Robert Brough, apparently at the instigation of the victims wife. When the drunken Naden returned home and told her what he had done, she at once went out and rifled the dead man’s pockets to make it appear that he had been way laid by thieves. However she failed to notice Naden’s knife lying beside the corpse. This was sufficient evidence to secure the murderer’s conviction. History does not record whether the wife was tried for her involvement, but ironically it was ordered that Naden should be executed outside her door. His body was afterwards gibbeted on Gun Hill, and when the gallows were eventually removed, the timbers were used in the construction of local field stiles. Some people believe that these stiles are haunted by the ghost of John Naden.

This is one of the stiles which can be found on Gun Hill and is thought to be haunted by John Naden’s ghost

The possible timber remains of the gallows found on Gun Hill


According to the Grub Street Journal printed on the 16th of September 1731.” Stafford, August 30th. This day John Naden who murdered his master, Mr Brough, was carried on a horse having his legs tied and hands cuffed, to Leek. The next morning he was carried to the highest hill on Gun Heath, within a quarter of a mile of his master’s house, where in the presence of some thousands of spectators he confessed the facts for which he died. The gibbet is 21 feet high, and may be seen five miles around the country. The chains which were made by one of Birmingham, are made in so curious a manner, that they will keep his bones together till they turn to powder, if the iron will last so long.”

One Response to “John Nadens Ghost”

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