Staffordshire Oddities and Facts.
In the village of Wetley Rocks can be found a private house which formerly would have been the Plough public house. In the past there had used to be a custom known as Beating the Bounds. It is believed that this custom originated from the belief that all boundaries were thought to be under the control of local and artificial deities. These artificial deities came about from slaughtering human victims at certain points along the boundary, then erecting a sacred stone to preserve the victims memory. If you look carefully at the centre of the photo on the right you will see a black drain pipe which is on the boundary, to the left of the pipe is Consall, to the right of the pipe is Caverswall. Due to this fact that the boundary had used to run through the centre of the pub the people who had used to Beat the Bounds would climb up onto the roof of the building to keep the custom alive, however the last time the Bounds were Beat was back in 1970 so the tradition has now died out.
Not far away from where the Plough public house used to be, can be found the Powys Arms public house also in the village of Wetley Rocks. On the opposite side of the road from the pub can be found a petrol station, to the left of this petrol station can be found a public footpath which climbs steeply between the rear of the station and a rock face. If you follow the footpath it emerges in front of a private house, the unusual fact is that if you continue to follow the footpath it leads you through a tunnel which goes underneath the house and emerges at a stile which leads you into a pasture.
In St Bartholomew’s church at Blore which is close to Ilam and Swinscoe can be found a rare portrayal of St Ann who was the mother of Mary. It can be seen in the stained glass window which is on the south side of the chancel.
The origin of the name “Leek” which refers to the town of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands could mean a “leaking brook” and may refer to the spring which flows from the wall below St Edwards church.
The residents who live on and around Gun Hill on the outskirts of the small village of Meerbrook had a shock one morning shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. A surreal sight greeted them when they walked out-of-doors that morning, because millions upon millions of caterpillars covered the ground including hedges trees and plants. Although I tend to think that this was some sort of natural, although rare occurrence, the locals believed that the caterpillars had been dropped by a German Zeppelin airship in the hope of destroying important crops needed for the war effort. Just what sort of crops they expected to destroy on top of Gun Hill is another mystery!
A view from the top of Gun Hill with Tittesworth Reservoir in the distance.
Alum Springs may sound like some place you might find in the outback of Australia, however I have managed to track down one of these springs a bit closer to home. I found this one after receiving some basic directions from Frank Parker who lives at Goldstych Moss, he told me roughly where the spring was at Knotbury, not far from the Travellers Rest pub on the Leek to Buxton road in the Staffordshire Moorlands. I called in to see Doug Moller (Lord of the Roaches) who gave me more detailed directions which I followed and ended up quite close to Three Shires Head. Frank and Doug were of the opinion that this wasn’t an Alum spring and was probably an Iron Oxide spring which had been caused by the mining which had taken place in and around this area. After photographing the spring I tend to agree with them as the earth surrounding the spring has turned a reddish brown from the iron oxide contained in the water.
Rudyard Lake which can be found in the county of Staffordshire just on the outskirts of the town of Leek is around two and a half miles in length and is worth visiting as there is a six mile walk around the lake as well as a miniature railway which runs along one side of the lake. The world famous author Rudyard Kipling born in 1865 is said to have been named after the lake due to the fact that his parents first met at the lake in 1863, according to others he was conceived there so they must have returned again some time later!
A controversial claim is made by the Robin Hood public house in the village of Bramshall close to the town of Uttoxeter, they commemorate the belief that Robin Hood was born in the nearby village of Loxley located within the parish of Uttoxeter. They refute the claims that Robin Hood was born in Loxley near Sheffield and also Loxley in Warwickshire. They support this claim as there is references in a ballad and also a connection to a local Overlord, and last but not least they claim that a hunting horn had used to hang in nearby Loxley Hall which was inscribed with Robin Hood’s initials, its whereabouts today remain a mystery.
I was recently told about a little known tunnel which was said to exist on the aptly named tunnel farm. I did not have any directions to the location, I was just told that it was in the Wetley Rocks area in the county of Staffordshire. As it was a nice day on the 7-9-2012 I decided to set out in search of the farm and see if I could get permission to photograph the tunnel. Having reached Wetley Rocks I drove around in the hope of seeing someone who I could ask for directions, unfortunately there did not seem to be anyone about. So giving up on that idea I headed up the Cheadle road and decided to ask at the first farm I came to. After about half a mile I could see a farm track leading down into a farm yard on my right, I followed the track down into the yard and went over to the open door into the farmhouse and rang the bell. After not getting a response I went into the porch and knocked on the door, still nothing, I went back to my bike and was just getting ready to leave when I looked back and there was an elderly woman who had appeared in the doorway. I went back and asked her if she knew of a Tunnel farm, whereupon she told me that this was Tunnel farm, as luck would have it I had accidently found it!
My initial joy at having found the farm so easily soon turned to disappointment when the Lady told me that the tunnel had been filled in. She went on to say that the tunnel had been deemed unsafe and in fact someone had stayed overnight in it to see whether water leaked through from the road which runs above it. Apparently they must have felt it posed some sort of a health and safety danger because soon afterwards steps were made to fill it in. The Lady who owns Tunnel farm told me that they used concrete to fill it up with, however the ends of the tunnel seem to be filled with earth, whether or not there is concrete further inside the tunnel is unclear. This reminds me of another webpage on this site under the title “In search of a secret tunnel”, I was instumental in saving that tunnel as the highways department were going to fill it in, and in doing so destroy something of historical value, I was able to contact the relevant department who took steps to preserve that tunnel. Unfortunately in this case the damage has already been done and we have lost something that will probably never be replaced and this area will be poorer for it.
On the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme and quite close to the M6 motorway can be found a hamlet known as Hanchurch, it is said that at one time there had been a church here and that by supernatural means it was transported to Trentham by four white creatures. Like Alderley Edge the woods around Hanchurch have stories attached to them, the woods are claimed to be haunted as one courting couple found out after having some sort of encounter and were forced to flee. Perhaps this is due to witch covens using the woods for their ceremonies, again like Alderley Edge, have occultists released something on purpose or by accident.
Ufo sightings have been made in this area in 2006, perhaps these are linked to the extreme bright lights that have been seen in the woods flashing on and off, and seemingly directed towards the sky.
The photograph below was taken by Jane Cairns in Hanchurch Woods in 2011 and seems to have captured the ghostly figure of a woman. Jane claims that the photograph is 100% genuine and has not been tampered with.