Post by Graveyardbride on Oct 15, 2017 16:27:47 GMT -5
Does ‘Padfoot’ Haunt the Moorlands of Staffordshire?
At least three ghostly black dogs are said to haunt the Staffordshire moorlands. Should you meet one of them or hear a disembodied howl on one of the pathways near Leek, do not linger, for these phantom hounds are said to be a portent of death, not necessarily for the unlucky individual who encounters the beast, but for someone in the community. One of these phantom dogs haunts the Ashbourne to Leek road around Swinscoe. Another is tied to Bradnop, where the Red Lion Pub once stood. And a third roams the Ipstones area.
The “Padfoot,” as these spectral dogs are also called, is a phenomenon that has been reported across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, but the moorlands seem to have more than their fair share of ghost stories. These hounds of hell are said to appear near burial grounds and scenes of violent deaths and executions.
In Staffordshire, the legend of the black dogs roaming the moorlands is tied to the Jacobite Uprising, when Bonnie Prince Charlie led his army of 7,000 Highlanders into Leek on December 3, 1745. Though not exactly welcome visitors, the invaders was relatively well-behaved, apart from their taking food and other goods without paying for them. They also imprisoned Squire Murhall of Bagnall Hall, releasing him only after he agreed to pay a ransom of £300.
The Highlanders then marched to Derby, en route to what was supposed to be a symbolic journey to London. However, British forces, led by the Duke of Cumberland, were waiting for them and the Jacobites were forced to retreat to Leek. Upon their return to the market town, the desperate Highlanders proceeded to loot the town and some townsfolk were beaten and even killed during the violence. The people of Leek gave as good as they got and one Highlander was dragged to death behind a horse at the pig market, and a Scottish drummer boy was supposedly tortured and killed by the vengeful Squire Murhall’s men.
Following the abominations at Leek, three Scottish soldiers were ambushed and slain – either by the Cumberland’s men or possibly by a mob of Leekensians seeking revenge – along Ashbourne Road (now the A523) at Swinscoe. According to legend, a hellhound was sent by the devil to guard their graves and haunts the location to this day.
Two other Jacobites got into a drunken row while overindulging in the local brew at the Red Lion Pub at Bradnop. The quarrel turned violent and the men drew their weapons. It was soon settled with a sword thrust and one of the soldiers crumpled to the ground in a pool of his own blood. To this day, a phantom hound is said to haunt the roads where this Highlander was buried.
The story of these two phantom dogs – and a third, associated with Ipstones – was described by William Purcell Witcutt, a former vicar of St. Mary’s in Leek, in Volume 53 of Folklore Magazine, printed in 1942. The minister and folklorist wrote:
“The Padfoot or phantom black dog is common enough in this county. His chief attribute seems to be the guardianship of graves. The retreat of Prince Charlie’s army through the Moorlands in 1745 left quite a crop of these specters. At Swinscoe on the Leek-Ashbourne road, three Jacobites were ambushed, and a phantom black dog guards their grave.
“At the Oxhay farm at Bradnop nearer Leek (at that time the Red Lion) two more Jacobites quarreled in their cups and one slew the other. He is buried behind the farm and a black dog accordingly haunts the road.
“Another phantom of the same species was seen at the lane end near the much-haunted Hermitage farm in Ipstones parish in 1916. Padfoot is also obscurely connected to wells, such as Indefont well at Ipstones.”
A phantom black dog also has been reported at Gun Hill in the countryside near Leek, which was a site where public executions once took place. Incidentally, Gun Hill is where murderer John Naden was put to death in 1731 for killing his master at the urging of his lover, the victim’s wife. Apart from Padfoot, Naden’s ghost reportedly wanders the pathways connecting Danebridge, Bosley and Wincle.
There is even a corruption of the Padfoot legend wherein the phantom is claimed to be the spirit of a hound which belonged to the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. The criminal may well have traveled through Staffordshire – his partner in crime, Tom King, was from Lichfield – but there is no evidence Turpin had any particular ties to the county, or that he traveled with a dog. So even supposing the spectral hound exists, it is probably fair to rule out any connection with Britain’s most notorious highwayman.
Stories of hounds haunting the Staffordshire moorlands are fairly typical of other legends from around the U.K. In English folklore, black dogs are often associated with the devil. The Padfoot is supposed to be larger than a normal dog with glowing red eyes. Black dogs have been reported in Devon, Cornwall, Lancashire, Leeds, Norfolk and even at Newgate Prison, where, for more than 400 years, a black dog was said to appear prior to executions.
In Essex, the phantom is known as Black Shuck and considered a portent of death or serious illness for anyone who sees it. There are tales that the abomination attacked the Blythburgh church in 1577, killed two people and left claw marks which can still be seen today.
It is easy to imagine how the superstitious folk of 18th-century North Staffordshire could have leapt to the conclusion that any unfettered hound roaming the countryside at night, could, in fact, be a demon of hell. It was a time when science was still in its infancy and the supernatural was blamed for many a misfortune. A feral dog could easily translate to a demon hound. Once told, these stories were passed down from generation-to-generation and became folklore ... or perhaps ol’ Padfoot is roaming the wilds to this day.
Source: Richard Ault, The Sentinel, October 10, 2017.
See also “Ancient Dartmoor and its Legends”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/408/ancient-dartmoor-legends
“Lore and Legend of the Black Dog”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/1942/lore-legend-black-dog
“Phantom Black Dogs”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/396/phantom-black-dogs
“Phantom Black Dogs of the British Isles”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2560/phantom-black-dogs-british-isles
“The Wild Hunt”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/227/wild-hunt