The Saracens of Biddulph Moor
There has been a legend that has persisted over the years and does not show any sign of going away, and that is that the people of Biddulph Moor in the county of Staffordshire are thought to be descendants from a group of Saracen Stonemasons brought back to this area by a person known as Orm of Biddulph.
The people of Biddulph Moor are known to have more exotic dark features than most people living in the surrounding area, and with the difference in dialect, this does seem to set these people apart from their neighbouring communities.
It is thought that Orm brought back seven Saracen Stonemasons and their descendants became the Bailey family whose children had the “most lovely shades of red hair”.
There are however some disputed facts surrounding this legend, there is thought to be an Eastern influence in the construction of St Laurence’s church in Biddulph which was thought to have been founded by Orm, and the Eastern influence would no doubt be due to the Saracen Stonemasons who would have been used in its construction.
St Laurence’s Church in Biddulph
There is a strange Font in nearby St Mary’s church, which would have originally been sited at St Laurence’s church and which some people believe originally came from Palestine and if this were true it would strengthen the story considerably.
The first appearance in print with reference to the story appeared in Sleigh’s “A history of the ancient parish of Leek” in 1862 and is as follows: “One of the Lords of Biddulph, a Knight Crusader, is reputed to have brought over in his train from the holy land a Paynim whom he made Bailiff on his estate, and from whose marriage with an English woman the present race of “Biddle Moor men” is traditionally said to have sprung. Probably this infusion of Saracenic blood may account fot their nomadic and somewhat bellicose propensities”.
The Biddle Moor people as they were originally known were mentioned by a woman by the name of S. Burne in 1909 in connection with the North Staffs Field Club after she had visited them. She had this to say about them, claiming that they had “Oval faces, brown ruddy complexions, and hair in shades of auburn”. Burne claimed that they were descended from twelve Saracen captives brought back by the Lord of Knypersley (Orm) from the third Crusade. Burne goes on to suggest that they may have been Gypsies, so this may yet be another variation to the story.
It has been suggested that St Laurence church has some sort of connection with the Knights Templars mainly due to the fact that there can be found a series of stone coffin lids around the sides of the church which have a sword and cross on them.
Knights Templar coffin lid?
The sword and cross is representative of the Knights Templars however there is a dispute as to whether or not they are connected to the Templars as some people are of the opinion that they are of a Norman style, so the jury is still out on this debate.
These coffin lids can be found all around the outside of the church