The Cannibals of Gradbach

If you follow the footpath from Gradbach Mill which runs beside the river Dane it will lead you over a small footbridge which crosses the Black brook, on the other side of the brook, and before you start following the path up through the stunted trees of the Back forest which leads to Ludchurch, you will see the foundations of a house where a family of cannibals were said to have lived.

Casters bridge across the Black brook

This legend appeared in the book called “Legends of the Moorlands” and is as follows, one day a Flash Peddler whose name was Ward of the Brook was making his way home close to Ludchurch when it started getting dark, he decided to call in at a lonely pub by the roadside (probably the Ship Inn at Wincle). While he was in the pub having a drink a young child runs up to him saying, “What fat hands you have! What nice pies they will make”. Naturally on hearing this the Peddler decides to drink up and be on his way, as he has heard reports of strange goings on in this area. Making an excuse he quickly leaves and makes his way through the Back forest until he reaches the Black brook which he follows down to Casters bridge where the brook joins the river Dane. By this time he can hear shouts of men and barking dogs pursuing him, he then wades into the water and hides under the bridge, and even though the dogs and men are only a few yards away from him, his scent trail is masked by the water where he remains hidden until they pass him by in their futile search.

When he escapes he alerts the authorities to what has occurred and shortly afterwards the occupants of the house close to the river Dane and the Back forest are arrested and charged with several counts of murder and cannibalism. Afterwards the house is demolished but if you look hard you can still find evidence of where the house used to stand as there are still remains of the foundations. There have also been rumours of gold being buried somewhere around this location.

View 1 of the cannibals house

View 2 of the cannibals house.

View 3 of the cannibals house.

The photograph below is another view of Casters bridge which the Peddler hid under to escape from the cannibals pursuing him. The bridge derived its name from the smelting operations which used to take place here in the past. If you look hard enough you can still find evidence of this in the form of slag which can be found on the path close to the bridge. The footbridge is not the original bridge that the Peddler would have hidden under, the original bridge was a castellated design which was destroyed in a flood many years ago when a tree was washed down the Black brook.



9 Responses to “The Cannibals of Gradbach”

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  4. My mother spent the first 4 years of her life living in this house from 1920 to 1924,from where my grandad walked to Swythamley to work as a stonemason.The house was known at this time as Forest Bottom.If, as you say the house was demolished then it must have been rebuilt.The house was last occupied around 1930.Throughout this period and up to the sale of Swythamley estate it was owned by the estate.My grandad’s family lived at Gradbach Old Hall,half a mile or so away,for around 300 Years

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  8. yikes! This one is hard to believe. Honestly cannibals? Scary!

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