Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter XXXIII.


Tragedies of the Snow.

Although Bradwell is situate in a deep valley, sheltered from the stormy blasts, the hills that surround it on all sides are of such an altitude that snow will remain there for several months, and these severe storms that visit this part of the Peak in the winter, have been responsible for many tragedies, a few of which may be mentioned here


Tradition has handed down through four hundred years the story of the lost lad of the Woodlands, a few miles from Bradwell, which gave the name to the mountain still known as “The Lost Lad”. A lad of 13, who lived with his parents in one of the neighbouring villages, ventured too far from home one winter's day, and when darkness approached, he was terrified to find himself on the moorlands - lost, ah and lost in the snow! He shrieked until he lay down to sleep, completely exhausted, and his father searched all night in vain. Living on wild berries from the bushes for several days, the father searching for him miles away on the severest night, the poor lad, on the summit of one of the highest hills, far away from any dwelling, had just sufficient strength left to pile up a few stones and inscribe his fate thereon. Here marked with the aid of a sharp stone, were particulars of his fate, and on another he wrote in big characters “LOST LAD”, sank beside his own self-erected monument, and on this lonely eminence slept his last sleep.

Many years the remains of the poor lad lay on these heights undiscovered, until some sportsmen, seeing the pile of stones, went thither and found the skeleton, which was removed and interred. With difficulty they deciphered some inscriptions on the stones, but very plain, in big capitals, was “LOST LAD”. For many generations the heap of stones remained entire, and the hill is still known as “The Lost Lad”.


Such was the severity of a snowstorm in the winter of 1674, that a man named Barber, a grazier, and his maid-servant, crossing the shoulder of Winhill, a little over two miles from Bradwell, were lost in the snow, and remained covered with it from January to May, when they were

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found, and the bodies being too offensive, they were buried on the spot in their clothing.

In his “Additions to the Brittania”, as detailed from the Philosophical Transactions, Gough alludes to this, and says: “About twenty-nine years afterwards some country men, probably having observed the extraordinary properties of this soil in preserving dead bodies, had the curiosity to open the ground, and found them in no way altered, the colour of the skin being fair and natural, and their flesh as soft as that of persons newly-dead. They were exposed for a sight during the course of twenty years following, though they were so much changed in that time by being so often uncovered. In 1716, Mr. Henry Brown, M.B., of Chesterfield, saw the man perfect, his beard strong and about a quarter of an inch long; the hair of his head short, his skin hard and of a tanned leather colour, pretty much the same as the liquor and earth they lay in. He had on a broad cloth coat, of which the doctor in vain tried to tear off a skirt. The woman was more decayed, having been taken out of the ground and rudely handled; her flesh particularly decayed, her hair long and spongy, like that of a living person. Mr. Barber, of Rotherham, the man's grandson, had both bodies buried in Hope Churchyard, and upon looking into the graves some time afterwards, it was found that they were entirely consumed. Mr. Wormald, the minister of Hope, was present at their removal. He observed that they lay about a yard deep in moist soil or moss, but no water stood in the place. He saw their stockings drawn off, and the man's legs, which had not been uncovered before, were quite fair. The flesh, when pressed by his finger, pitted a little, and the joints played freely, and without the least stiffness. The other parts were much decayed. What was left of their clothes not cut off for curiosity, was firm and good, and the woman had a piece of new serge, which seemed never the worse”.


The winter of 1692-3 was notable for very heavy snowstorms in these parts. A woman named Elizabeth Trout was overtaken in one of these storms crossing Sir William, and was starved to death.


The winter of 1711 was most severe. There was a big snowstorm in December, and a woman walking over the hills from the Woodlands, perished in the storm near Edale End, and was found starved to death.


In the early part of 1748 there was another big storm, and many people perished in different parts of the country. On the 5th of February, a man named Stephen

Broomhead, was found starved to death in the snow on Eyam Moor.


It was on Tideswell Moor, on the verge of Bradwell Moor, where more than a hundred years ago George Sheldon, of Tideswell, lost his life in a snowstorm. He was the keeper of the prison at Tideswell, as well as tax collector, and it was in the exercise of the duties connected with this office that he lost his life. The Bradwell and Tideswell moors were not then enclosed, and when Sheldon was returning from Peak Forest on the night of February 1st, 1805, he was overtaken by a terrible snowstorm, lost his way, fell into a snowdrift, and perished. And on his memorial tablet on the outside wall of Tideswell Church we read:

“By depth of snow and stormy day.
He was bewildered in his way;
No mortal aid did him come nigh,
Upon the snow he there did lie
Helpless, being worn out with strife,
Death soon deprived him of his life;
But hope he found a better way
To the regions of Eternal Day”.


Occasionally snow accumulated in immense drifts on the hills above Hathersage, obliterating all traces of the road, rendering it not only dangerous but impassable. In the old coaching days, when the journey from Bradwell to Sheffield had to be made by “'bus”, the passengers had exciting experiences, as many can well remember. In the winter of 1813 the carriages that attempted to cross this bleak part of the moors either returned, or were left buried in the snow. A young man from Brookfield, near Hathersage, was the means of saving several persons from perishing in this severe winter. Near Burbage Brook he found a sailor and his wife who were exhausted with fatigue, and unable to proceed on their journey. The poor man had fallen under his exertions to support his wife, and was nearly dead, but the young man carried him on his back to the only house he could find, nearly a mile distant and then returned and carried the woman in the like manner, as she was laid starving to death in the snow. At this time the coach from Manchester was overturned and nearly buried in the snow, where it remained for several days. All the passengers were females, and among them was a woman with her two-year-old child. The young man carried the child to Hathersage, and the woman, in attempting to follow, fell into a snowdrift and was almost starved to death, when the young man extricated her and restored her to her child. The remaining two ladies he released from their perilous situation.

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Remarkable Experiences.

The great snowstorm of 1888 was considered to be the most furious that had raged over the district for at least half a century. Edward Hall, who drove the mails from Castleton to Sheffield, had some remarkable experiences. He was accompanied on the journey by William Eyre, and it was a case of cutting through the huge drifts for thirteen miles, but when Brough Lane Head was reached, about a mile below Bradwell, they were fairly beaten. The roads were completely blocked by huge drifts, and one, 150 yards long and six feet high, it was impossible to get through, so the cart had to be left fast in the snow, and 21 men engaged to cut a track just wide enough to let the horses pass, when, taking out the mail bags. Hall and Eyre put them on the horses' backs, and left the cart embedded in the snow. The Bradwell conveyances remained at home, the whole place being completely snowed up with drifts, in some places twelve feet high. Old inhabitants declared that they never knew so much snow as there was at that time on the roads around Bradwell, extending several weeks in February and March.

In the old toll-bar house at Slack Hall, on the Castleton Road, near Chapel-en-le-Frith, there resided Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Revill, an elderly couple, natives of Bradwell. On the Sunday night the old couple retired to rest, little thinking what a terrible experience was in store for them. About 1 o'clock the husband was awakened by a suffocating sensation. Feeling very ill, and not knowing what to do, he wandered about for some time in search of an inlet for air. But in vain. He endeavoured to procure a light, but the candle burned only with great difficulty owing to the want of air. Both husband and wife feeling they were suffocating, and naturally expecting an outlet at the chimney, they proceeded to light a fire, when the house was filled with smoke, almost to suffocation, and in this terrible situation they passed the night.

The house was buried; their cries were unheard and unavailing, but a band of workmen cut a road to the door, and at nine o'clock the imprisoned couple were released, almost suffocated, but thankful indeed that they had been rescued from the jaws of death.

At Sparrowpit there was a remarkable scene. The Devonshire Arms public house was snowed up to such a degree that to cut through the snow was considered an impossible task, and a tunnel was driven underneath as an approach to the house. But even this appears to have been equalled, for in the old coaching days this house was completely buried in a snow-storm, and for some time the coaches ran over the top of the building.


It was in this storm that a sad fatality occurred at Ashopton. Some of the sheep belonging to Mr. Mark Walker, of Riding House Farm, were out in the snow, and two youths, sons of the farmer, set out to look for them. Knowing how sagaciously the sheep seek for what shelter is available, they went to look behind a mass of rock, which overhung a portion of the hillside pasture, being accompanied by the dog.

Time passed by, and when the dog returned alone alarm was occasioned. Their mother went out to look for them, and to her horror found that they were buried under the snow near the rock. The heavy avalanche of snow which lay upon its upper surface suddenly slid down upon them and buried them. The terrified mother at once sought for help, and one of the young men was rescued, but the other, Walter Hall Walker, a youth of 17, was dug out a corpse.

There were snowstorms of unusual severity in 1889 and 1892.

In January and February, 1895, there was a long and very severe storm, when the roads were blocked for weeks. Leaving Bradwell at seven o'clock one night, Mr. Bramwell, a Tideswell greengrocer, reached Collins Farm, a mile distant, after three hours' snow cutting. Here the cart was left behind, and home was reached after midnight. Even the snow plough, although drawn by five horses, was unable to get through the drifts near Tideswell Lane Head, and Mr. Slack, another Tideswell greengrocer, had to leave his cart stuck in the snow, although drawn by three horses. All the villages in the district were snowed up, and all the working men available were employed cutting tracks through the snow.

This district was visited by another terrible storm in December, 1901, when many persons were dug out of the snow in an exhausted condition. A farmer named Webb, who had died at Abney Grange, was to have been buried at Bradwell, but the whole district was snowed up, and the funeral had to be postponed for some days. In fact, the coffin could not be got to the place, and 42 men were engaged all weekend cutting a road so that the funeral could take place at Bradwell on the Monday. A Peak Dale man fell exhausted in the snow, and was there 17 hours before being rescued. A Sheffield traveller, with his boy and horse, stuck fast in a drift near Tideswell, and were out in the storm all the night. They were dug out of the snow next morning by a young man from a neighbouring farm, who found them nearly dead.


In some instances people have been lost

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in snowstorms after wandering far off the beaten track, and their skeletons found years afterwards. Many such cases could be cited.

On the 3rd of July, 1778, the skeleton of an unknown man was found on the moors in Hope parish, and buried in the churchyard. On Monday, the 17th of February, 1886, Charles Hodkin, a medical botanist, of Pyebank, Sheffield, set out to visit his sister, who lived at Froggatt Edge. Although 74 years of age, he was in the habit of taking long walks into Derbyshire in search of herbs, and on this morning it was his intention to walk all the way. Soon after he had left his home, snow began to fall, and hopes were entertained that he would turn back and defer his visit, but he seemed to have no fear of continuing the journey. He reached the “ Peacock” at Owler Bar in safety, and asked the landlord to direct him the nearest route to Froggatt Edge. He called for no refreshment, and the landlord, noticing that one of his shoes was unlaced and the tongue hanging down, that he looked tired, and that there was every prospect of a wild and stormy night, suggested that he had better not attempt the journey, but he thanked him for his advice and walked on.

But as he neither reached his sister nor returned home, the terrible suspicions came to the family that he had lost his way, and had by that time perished in the snow, which on the night he travelled had fallen heavily, and in places on the roads and moors had drifted several feet deep. Search parties were organised, including the police, the Duke of Rutland's keepers, with their dogs, and others, and for several days a diligent and exhausting search was made everywhere about the moors where he was likely to have strayed, but not a trace of him could be found. It was then decided to abandon the search until the snow had disappeared, when it could be prosecuted more thoroughly - for by this time all hope had been abandoned of finding him alive. The snow melted away but slowly, and when it was gone, search parties went out again, but not a trace of poor Hodkin could be found, and what had become of him remained a mystery.

And it was not until the 3rd of December, 1887, nearly two years afterwards, that the mystery was unravelled, and in a remarkable way, by a dog. John Slack, a shepherd in the employ of the Duke of Rutland, was walking across the moor with his two dogs, when one of the dogs began to “wind”. He rebuked the dog, which, instead of noticing him, started off towards the centre of the moors. The shepherd followed, and after walking about a mile, he came upon the skeleton remains of a man. He was lying on his back, with his right hand across his chest. His hat was a little distance away, and near it was the skull, almost covered with green moss. The legs were literally bare of flesh, and the body was considerably mutilated.

Horrified at the shocking spectacle, the shepherd fetched the police.

The remains were those of poor old Mr. Hodkin There was no doubt of it, for one of the boots was in precisely the same state as described by the landlord of the “ Peacock”, and the relatives could say that the hat and clothing were his. Besides, in one of the pockets of the coat was a portion of a Wesleyan preacher's plan, and Mr. Hodkin had himself been a preacher on the same plan. The place where the skeleton was found was far from any highway, and to reach it the poor man must have waded through bog and brook, and at length, worn out with exhaustion, had lain him down in the snow, and had slept the sleep of death. It was then that Mr. Peate, a gamekeeper, remembered that on the wild night of February 17th, 1886, he thought he heard cries of distress, and saw practically obliterated footmarks, but was unable to trace them, and next day they were all snowed up.

These instances are sufficient to show with what severity the wintry blasts come over this part of the Peak.

In times of rapid thaw, when the snow has been washed down from the hills by heavy rains, the lower parts of Bradwell have often been flooded, but there are no fatalities to record on that account. Not so, however, in the surrounding district, when the Derwent, the Noe, and the Ashop have been in flood.


About the year 1830 William Wigley, of Otterbrook. Edale, and Elias Kinder, of Cotefield, Edale, were fetching with horses dragloads of timber out of the Woodlands, and when crossing the river, where there was a ford at that time. Just below Hay Lee, to get on the road leading to Hope Brink and Edale, there was a terrible catastrophe. A great flood came rushing down the Woodlands, both horses, timber, and men being overpowered and washed completely away. The bodies of both men were found some time afterwards at Grindleford, ten miles distant. One of them was quite void of clothing with the exception of a leathern belt round his body, containing seventy sovereigns. The money was found intact.

A few years later a young woman named Elliott was one night going to Hollins Farm, Edale. She had to cross Hollins Bridge, near the Cotton Mill. It was a dark night, the river was in flood, but the young woman never arrived at the farm, and was never seen again. It is supposed as her body was never recovered, it was that she was washed down the river, and expected it was washed down the river, right through the country, and away to sea. [sic]


For centuries Bradwell has been noted

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for its many owners of freehold property. Indeed, in the olden times, when only owners of property voted at Parliamentary elections, it was looked upon as a little community of freeholders. Consequently it received from candidates the attention commensurate with its importance. There have been some lively times when candidates for Parliamentary honours have addressed the electors from the hustings in the old Town Gate.

Throughout this work the names of voters at various periods are mentioned, and in closing it may not be out of place to give the names of the property owners at the present day. Now, of course, every householder is a voter, but the following list of property owners - male and female - will serve to show how the lands and houses, for the most part, remain with descendants of the old families, although some have been acquired by others who have made their abode here since the railway opened out the district.

Here are the property owners of to-day [Ed: 1912] in alphabetical order:-

Samuel Adams.
Francis Allen.
John Smith Andrew.
Thomas Andrew.
Joseph Ash.
Elizabeth Ashmore.
Thos. Shaw Ashton.
Charles Alfred Bancroft.
Alicia Barker.
Robert Barker.
Mary Bamford.
Sarah Bennett.
George Bird.
Herbert Bocking.
Aaron Bradbury.
Abner Bradwell.
Albert Edwin Bradwell.
Ebenezer Bradwell.
Herbert Bradwell.
Fanny Bradwell.
Hannah Bradwell.
Harriett Bradwell.
John Bradwell.
Mary Bradwell.
Spencer Joshua Bradwell.
Walter Isaac Bradwell.
William Bradwell.
Wm. Bradwell, junr.
Hannah Bradbury.
Charles Bramall.
Samuel Bramall.
William Bramall.
John Hy Bramley.
William Brierley.
George Wm. Broadbent.
Frederick Walter Burnand.
Arthur William Burrows.
Cheetham Cooper.
Horatio Wyatt Cooper.
George Cooper, jun.
John Cooper.
Luther Benjamin Cooper.
Thomas Cooper.
Robt. W. Coupland.
Robert Craig.
James Hy Cramond.
John Edwin Dakin.
Samuel Dakin.
Stephen Dakin.
Thos. Percy Dakin.
Joseph Dalton.
William Darvill.
Edwy Maltby Darneley.
Arthur Drabble.
Bertram Elliott.
George Hy. Elliott.
Joel Elliott.
John Elliott.
Samuel Elliott.
Mary Ann Elliott.
William Elliott.
Wm. Albert Elliott.
Hannah Eyre.
Marmaduke Hallam Eyre.
Percy Robt. Hallam Eyre.
William Eyre.
Dennis Evans.
Seth Evans.
George J. Fisher.
Delia Fiske.
Samuel Fiske.
John Ford.
Joseph Ford.
William Hy. Fox.
Armanda Gent.
William Gyte.
Arthur James Hadfield.
Francis Hall.
Isaac Hall.
Jacob Hall.
John Hall.
Hannah Hall.
Rachel Hall.
Harriett Hall.
Cheetham William Hallam.
Ethelbert Hallam.
Alice Hallam.
George Hallam.
Hannah Hallam.
Harvey Hallam.
Montague Hallam.
Samuel Hallam.
Stenton Thomas Hallam.
Thomas Hallam.
George Hague.
Wm. H. Harrison.
Edward Knowles Heaps.
George Harry Hemsoll.
Joseph Hibbs.
Samuel Hibbs.
Henry Hill.
Isaac Hill.
Maria Hill.
Mary Hill.
Thomas Hill.
Herbert Hodkin.
Walter Hodkin.
Harriett Howe.
Mary Jackson.
Arthur Jeffery.
Benjamin Barber Jeffery.
Joshua Jeffery.
Joshua Geo. Jeffrey.
Samuel Fox Jeffery.
William Johnson.
Frances Kiddy.
Henry Birkett Leighton.
Elizabeth Lindsay.
John Longden.
Martha Longden.
Ann Maltby.
Isaac Maltby.
Seth Maltby.
Sir Frank Mappin.
Abigail Marshall.
Hannah Marshall.
Alfred Middleton.
Allen Middleton.
Charles Middleton.
Clarinda Middleton.
Daniel Middleton.
Elijah Middleton.
George Middleton.
Hibberson Middleton.
James Alfred Middleton.
John Middleton.
John Middleton.
John Bennett Middleton.
Mary Middleton.
Philip Middleton.
Samuel Middleton.
Thomas Middleton.
Thomas Henry Howe Middleton.
William Middleton (Smalldale).
William Middleton.
Louisa Miller.
Alfred Morton.
Abram Morton.
Ann Stafford Morton.
Hannah Morton.
Luther Morton.
Sarah Allen Morton.
Walter John Morton.
Hannah M. Needham.
Robert Needham.
Edmund Nicholson.
James Nuttall.
Allen Oates.
Elias Palfreyman.
John Palfreyman.
Wilfred Palfreyman.
Ann Pearson.
Mortimer Petty.
Richard Mortimer Petty.
John Thos. Pinder.
Benjamin Plant.
Hannah Randall.
John Robinson.
Mary Shallcross.
Thos. Frith Sheldon.
Ada Shirt.
Benjamin Somerset Shirt.
George Wm. Shirt.
Nathaniel Somerset.
Walter John Somerset.
Ashton John Shuttleworth.
Frederick Stedman.
John Stevenson.
Durham Stone.
Robt. Tanfield.
Robt. Tanfield. jun.
Thos. Hy. Tanfield.
Nicholas Tym.
Henry Walker.
George Walker.
John Walker.
Olive Walker.
Mary Walker.
Mary Alice Walker.
Zechariah Walker.
Alice M. Wragg.
Durham Wragg Wright.
Thurlow Joseph

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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