Tuesday, 18 December 2012

More for the Hoard

We’ve just heard that 90 more pieces of gold and silver have been found in the same field, near Lichfield, where the Staffordshire Hoard was originally found in 2009.

The main question around the Hoard is how it came to be left in the field  – and the latest finds could help historians come up with an answer.  Archaeologists for Staffordshire Council and English Heritage found the items, some weighing less than a gramme, but have not yet dated them.  They are thought to include eagle-shaped mounts and a possible helmet cheek-piece.

The Staffordshire Hoard contains nearly 4000 pieces of stunningly worked metal, mostly gold and silver, dating from the seventh-century Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. It was valued at more than £3.3 million and has been seen by over a million people since its discovery.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

James Clegg’s 4 December

James Clegg, preacher, farmer and doctor of Chapel-en-le-Frith, wrote a diary from 1708, when he was 29, until his death in 1755. Through his eyes we get a glimpse of the people and places of eighteenth-century Derbyshire and beyond; and watch his struggles to treat conditions curable today with antibiotics or other common drugs (James’s repertoire included Virginian snakeroot, quicksilver, Gascoigne powder and hartshorn).

His diary entry of 4 December 1753 has always made us smile:

 ‘I found myselfe indisposd last night and this morning by a soreness and stuffing in my breast and lungs, afternoon I took a ride to visit Francis Thomasons Family at Calstor. When I came back I found myselfe growing worse and continued to do til bed time and soon after was seizd with a violent pain in my Breast accompanied with such a stuffing in my lungs as almost stifled me and made me conclude I could scarce live til morning. This continued about two hours and then the merciful God sent me Reliefe and some ease for ever Blessed be his name. When I was under apprehensions of dying shortly my greatest concern was for the continuance of the means of salvation in these parts after my Decease. But God can provide and on him I rely. With a view to this I have a Ticket purchasd for me in the Irish Lottery. If providence shall Favour me with a prize I have determind that one halfe of it shall be applied to that use, or to some other that shall appear more pious and charitable.’

Sadly, James didn’t win a prize, so we can only wonder what he would have done with the other half!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

White Nancy

As anyone who lives in the Bollington area will know, exasperated reports often crop up in the local press about graffiti being scrawled on White Nancy. (Those of you who don’t live in the Bollington area may be disappointed to know that White Nancy is not a person but a bell-shaped summerhouse on the beautiful Kerridge ridge; it’s shown on our Enquiry page.)

Anyway, as with so many things, it was ever thus!  We’ve just come across a postcard written by a visitor to White Nancy in the early part of last century which comments on the graffiti, as well as a little piece of local folklore:

‘Climbed up to this landmark with instructor R. Ridings & Patrol Leader Tom Forster on Sunday 25 July 1915. Had to come down in the pouring rain. It is a stone edifice whitewashed inside & out, it had been newly done outside. Inside the walls are covered in names and initials almost to the apex. On the floor is a big round stone table whose supports are now broken & round the edge is a narrow stone form. It is said a prize is to be given to anyone who can get the table top out of the doorway & roll it down the hillside. It is far too big to get thro’ it is all in one piece about 9 ft across.’

Over the last few years, a tradition has arisen of painting White Nancy to mark national events. Remembrance day has been commemorated with a poppy and this summer saw a Jubilee crown and then Olympic rings emblazoned on the side.  Previous (unauthorised) makeovers have included a Christmas pudding, Jimi Hendrix and – our own particular favourite – a penguin.  The picture shows White Nancy earlier this year, decked out to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.
Thanks to Ray at www.derbyshireheritage.co.uk for the photo. 


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Have a real family Christmas this year!

If you’re after a Christmas present that’s a little bit different look no further than one of our Three Shires gift certificates. There’s no set amount – you can spend as much or as little as you like – and we can personalise your gift with the name and photo of the recipient (we’ll leave you to decide how embarrassing that photo should be!).

Get in touch via our Enquiry form at

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Some Hallowe’en tales

With Hallowe’en on the way we thought we’d pass on some of the spooky experiences some of our friends have had around the Three Shires.  Hand on heart, Mike told us something that happened to  him in a Macclesfield chapel ...

When I worked as a decorator, years ago, the boss told me to go and paint three radiators at a local chapel.  As I went up the steps I could hear a piano playing inside. The moment I opened the doors it stopped. There was no one inside at all and nowhere anyone could have gone in that short a time. It was weird but I assumed it had just been coming from a nearby house. It wasn’t until I left that I realised there weren’t any houses close enough for me to hear it that loud. So, later I said to the boss, half-jokingly, “What d’ you think you’re doing sending me to a haunted church?”  I told him about the piano-playing and he said: “You want to talk to Paul!” So next time I saw Paul, who worked with us, I told him what had happened. It turned out I’d been sent to do the radiators because Paul, who had been working there, refused to set foot in the place ever again.  Apparently, he’d been working near the organ, which was between two small flights of stairs going up the sides of the chapel. He’d watched, petrified as a small “cloud” of white mist travelled slowly from behind the organ down the stairs, growing larger as it got to the top of the aisle. It then came down the aisle towards Paul, and seemed to be gradually taking on the shape of a person. Needless to say, Paul didn’t hang around to find out, he got out of there fast and by all accounts was still shaking an hour later.  The chapel’s been turned into flats now, and I often wonder if any of the inhabitants has seen anything unusual ...’

 And Sarah said she was once

travelling down the M53 towards Chester in the car; my dad was driving.  Then I saw, in a field next to the motorway, a ball of pale green light, just hovering there.  It wasn’t way up in the sky but about 15 feet off the ground.  I know most people would say it was some sort of gas that had somehow floated over from the oil refinery nearby, but it wasn’t, it was a light. Then it suddenly rose up and shot across the front of the car, to the other side of the motorway, where I lost track of it.  There was a stunned silence and my dad said: “Did you see that too?” I did but to this day I have absolutely no idea what it was.’
Then there’s Hannah’s story, when she went to visit a friend who’d just moved to

a beautiful house near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. I’d seen photos of the place and it looked great so I couldn’t wait to visit. From outside, it lived up to all expectations but as soon as I set foot inside, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I thought the place had a really creepy atmosphere and I spent the whole day feeling as though someone was watching me. My friend was really happy though, settling in, so I didn’t say anything. I slept in the guest room (with the light on!) but woke up at four in the morning. I could hear a soft clicking sound. At first I put it down to the heating but then my eye was drawn to one of those small revolving bookcases that was in the corner of the room. It was turning round and round, completely on its own. I didn’t know what to do so I pulled the covers over my head and stayed there until it was light!  My friend’s been in the house a few years now and has never had anything strange happen – so maybe whatever is in that house just didn’t like me!’

Finally, Nick told us something really spine-tingling:

A couple of days after my father died I came downstairs in the morning to find a plant that, the night before, had been in its usual place on top of a high unit. It was standing on the floor at the bottom of the unit, all in one piece, with not a drop of soil or a fallen leaf anywhere ...’

Do you have a story?

Let us know if you’ve had any weird experiences around the Shires ...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Three Shires Plus

Our name indexes contain names from the fourteenth century right up to the 1980s. We’re hoping to index our whole collection eventually so keep checking back to see what’s new...

... if you’re planning to visit the Three Shires to see where your ancestors lived, we can help you devise an itinerary ... see our website for further details ...

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Three Shires

Three Shires: where the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet, and one of our favourite places to be.  Officially known as Three Shire Heads, Three Shires is part of the old packhorse route across Axe Edge, near Buxton, where tributaries from the moor run into the River Dane and form a series of waterfalls and pools.

Although there are no marker stones today, Speed’s map of 1610 shows ‘three shyre ſtones’ and other early maps show a stone on the Derbyshire side (behind Panniers Pool Bridge in the photo) that was marked with an ‘H’ (for Hartington).

As well as drovers and their ponies, stopping off at Panniers Pool for a well-earned rest, Three Shires was famous for some less pleasant  activities. It was a popular spot for cock fights and illegal boxing matches, and local thieves would hide in the area, its remoteness making it hard to police.  If the law did turn up, a quick sprint into the next county meant you couldn’t be arrested.

As you’d expect, a wild place like this has made its mark in local folklore.  Tales of witchcraft abound in the records, and we learn that drinking water from Panniers Pool  for nine mornings in a row was a sure antidote to any spell.  Perhaps the water was believed to be special because it sometimes has a yellow or reddish tint –  a result of minerals brought down from the moor rather than (sadly) any supernatural power.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Tracing your roots is one of the most fascinating and rewarding roads you can travel. If your journey takes you through the English counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire or Staffordshire we can help.
We’ve been researching genealogy and local history across the Three Shires for more than twenty years, and have traced Three Shires families for their descendants around the globe.

We use a wide range of local archives and specialised resources (including our own collection of books, diaries, letters and photographs) to find the best-hidden pieces of the past.

So whether you’d like information on a specific individual or event, a bit of help with brick walls in your own research – and here at Three Shires we love a challenge! –  or your whole ancestry traced as far back as you can go, call us or fill in the enquiry form for a no-obligation chat.