Rock Hall cottage – The Roaches
Rock Hall cottage can be found on the rocky escarpment known as the Roaches which can be found on the Staffordshire Moorlands. Rock Hall cottage was built as a hunting lodge by Sir Philip Brocklehurst of Swythamley Hall, however originally there existed at this location a cave dwelling known as Rock Hall, and this cave was occupied by an old crone called Bess Bowyer who lived to be nearly 100 years old.
Rock Hall was a large natural cavern which had been created by rock falls which had formed the roof, sides and entrance. Bess had seperated the inside into two rooms, one became her living room and the other became her bedroom, through both of these rooms ran an ice cold stream, okay in the Summer but probably very cold in the Winter!
In her bedroom she had a secret escape route which led out amongst the boulders behind Rock Hall, she would use this to assist smugglers and deserters to avoid capture by soldiers sent to apprehend them, she was obviously able to supplement her meagre income from this venture.
During part of Bess Bowyers life at Rock Hall, it is said that her daughter lived with her, a young attractive girl shrouded in mystery, it is said that she had a fine singing voice that could be heard on Summers nights emanating from amongst the rocks, perhaps that is where the legend of the Mermaid comes from that is said to inhabit Doxy’s pool on top of the Roaches and can be found close to Rock Hall.
Doxy’s Pool on the Roaches.
The Mermaid that is said to inhabit Doxy’s pool was said to sing, and anyone hearing her song would be irresistibly drawn to its dark waters where they would disappear into its dark depths.
One Winters morning Bess Bowyer was seen in some distress, apparently some strange men had carried off her daughter and she was never seen again, it was not long afterwards that Bess Bowyer was found dead in her strange lonely cave perhaps from a broken heart?
Bess Bowyer was said to be a descendant of “Bowyer of the Rocks” a famous or infamous Moss Trooper, these were desperate wanderers over moss and moorland, they were said to be Kings of the Forest, and liberated valuables from people travelling in this part of the country.
These days Rock Hall cottage can be hired out, usually by the many rock climbing parties that visit the Roaches, and probably few if any know of Bess Bowyer and the smugglers who used this place so many years ago.