Murderers of Morridge Moor

” Where the traveller goes a cold wind blows”, a line from a Chris De Burgh song seems quite apt when one considers where the next story takes place. It was an overcast evening in the Autumn of 1780 when a man called John Warltyre was travelling on horseback from Derbyshire to Leek across Morridge Moor.

John became caught in a thunderstorm and sought shelter at a village pub in the hills. An old frightening woman opened the door to him and she offered him a room for the night, after stabling his horse and having something to eat he requested that she should show him his room so that he could retire for the night.

As he followed her through the back kitchen he saw two wicked and evil looking men warming themselves around the dying glow of a log fire. With his candle to see his way he climbed the stairs to bed feeling nervous about the two men he had just seen.

While checking around his room he found some wainscoting near the fireplace and trying each panel he found to his suprise a concealed door, after opening the door he found to his shock that there was a dead body concealed inside which had had its throat cut and its skull shattered from a powerful blow.

Having concluded that this person was probably the last occupier of the room he decided to make his escape through the window, however he was shocked to find that the windows had bars on them to stop anyone fleeing. He realised that the two men that he had seen when he retired to bed were probably the ones who had killed the person he had found in the concealed cupboard and would probably be coming for him also. He decided to wedge a heavy trunk against the door to stop anyone gaining entrance through it, he then fashioned a club from a chair leg for protection and then continued searching the room. He found to his suprise a concealed trapdoor beneath his bed which would allow the bed to drop down with the trapdoor, so he pushed the bed off the trapdoor and while he was doing this he noticed someone trying the door to his room.

He shouted out to the person who was trying to open his door, the voice which responded was gruff and he assumed it was one of the men he had seen downstairs, they said another traveller had arrived and needed a spare blanket, John shouted back saying there was no spare blanket in his room, at this he heard footsteps departing and going back downstairs. Throughout the night he kept a vigil next to the trapdoor, however no one tried to get into his room this way, although someone did try his door again at which he threatened to fire his pistols, even though he was not armed.

As it started to get light the following morning he made his way downstairs where he found them asleep around the fire, he quietly made his way outside, saddled his horse and was just riding away when they all came rushing out of the house, however by this time he was a distance away and could not be caught, unlike the many others who had not been so lucky!


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