Tales and Traditions of the High Peak

By William Wood (1862)

Transcription by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2009

Edden or Edwin Tree

a Tradition of Bradwell

THE pen of some Norman scribe was luckily correct in the transcription of the name of this place, - Bradwell, or Bradewelle as written in the Doomsday-book [sic]. The name is derived from a large spring or well on the verge of the village: Broad or Brade, and Well or Welle. Bradwell is an out-of-the-way place, having no public road in its vicinity, besides being romantically secluded among mountains of great altitude. The dwellings, for the most part, stand on the slope of a steep hill, which forms a sort of earth-lee; at the base or bottom of the hut-crowded ridge, there are some good substantial habitations, very pleasantly situated. Like all other mountain-hid villages, it contains a population strongly marked by peculiarities of custom, retaining notions of a highly superstitious nature, and most pugnaciously tenacious of their numerous, time-honoured, antique mores. Here, to a deplorably excessive degree, inter-marriages exist, and have existed for ages; a circumstance very unfavourable to mental, and to some degree [Page 187] physical development. That the minds of at least some of the inhabitants of this place, like many others in the district, are enfeebled by superstitious influences, or that a smattering of the heathen doctrine of transmigration still lingers among them, the following paragraph (which, by the by, is rather digressive) will fully corroborate.

In some parts of the village there is, or was, a dwelling called “Hill's Head”, or “Hill's Head House”, in which there had been a century or more ago, a supposed murder of a young girl or child, who was buried under the staircase. By degrees the matter could out, and as a necessary consequence, the ghost of the unfortunate child appeared nightly in or about the crime-marked habitation. Time passed away, but the child- like spectre continued increasingly its terrifying visits, until the whole neighbourhood was put into a nightly cold-sweat trepidation. Arrived at this crisis, something must be done, and a well-known individual named H__th_e undertook the magical task of laying the ghost. This wonderful person had a many avocations; he was a ruler of planets, herb gatherer, necromancer, and among what at the time was denominated the “new fangled” sect, he was a regular exhorter and an occasional preacher. But few doubted his power of accomplishing his purpose, for with the majority he was deemed a prodigy of learning and knowledge, yes, with reputed subtlety of penetration and intellect could, with Hudibras, point out the palpable difference between [Page 188] “the south and south-west side of an hair”. The haunted house was filled with jaw-fallen spectators when the exorcist with his paraphernalia appeared among them; he commenced business by chalking out a ring on the chamber floor, within which he went on his knees, and then fell into such a paroxysm of prayer or incantation, that copious streams of sweat poured from his face, while the lookers-on, in an agony of wonder and trembling, felt (as they afterwards stated) the floor, on which they knelt, move for yards up and down in quick succession. The exorcist rose on his feet, and in a more subdued tone of voice exclaimed: “Berald, Beroald, Balbin, gab bagor agaba”[1] when lo! the spirit appeared (as they imagined), and the wonderful magician commanded it to depart into the body of a fish, or rather to assume that form, and hereafter to locate itself in the Lumb Mouth, the outlet of a subterraneous stream in the village. One condition he annexed, that the ghost should every Christmas day divest itself of the fish form, and assume that of a white ousel and fly for recreation to Lumbly Pool, a distance of two miles. Since this very ridiculous transaction, hundreds of the inhabitants of the village have seen (of course in imagination) the exorcised child-like ghost in one or other of its forms - fish or ousel.[2]

[Page 189] Bradwell possesses a many matters of general interest, of which a few only can be outlined in a sketch of this kind. According to a very ancient tradition, the execution of a king or military chief took place during Septarchy, in the immediate vicinity of this place. Between Bradwell and Brough, but much nearer the former, the site of a battle is pointed out, at the close of which engagement, it is stated, that a king named Edwin was captured and immediately hanged on a tree near the spot. This tree was afterwards called Edwin's tree, now corrupted to Edden tree; and, after the tree had perished, the spot whence it stood bore the same designation, as it still does at the present day. At or very near this place, when a quarter of a mile north of Bradwell, there is now a neat and very convenient Inn; indeed, there must have been an habitation there at the time of the battle, for it is stated that the king was captured in a garden.[3] Of the probable [Page 190] truth of this tradition there is at least some corroborative evidence. What is now called Grey or Gray Ditch, is an entrenchment and ditch which runs a little south-west of Edden tree; it is, or rather was once, about twenty feet high, and twelve broad at the top.[4] Its slope or front is towards Bradwell, and that it was for some military or defensive purpose there is every probability, for “pieces of swords, spears, spurs, and bridle bits have been found very near it”. The present occupant of Edden tree found, on making some excavations there some years back, what appeared to be places of interment, in which were a many human bones. Then, in the immediate locality, there are certain names of places strongly indicative of human carnage: “Gore-lane”, or Blood-lane; “Deadmen's-clough”, and some others. A visit to Edden tree cannot fail to be interesting; Nunlow, Micklow, and Wooler-edge[5] are very striking and pleasing objects; but still further in the distance may be seen Winhill, looking out as it were with a kind of supreme and commanding power over the surrounding lesser hills. In all directions hills rise in every possible variety of size and form; the intervening moors are clothed in love and light, and on the steepy slopes are scattered stupendous masses of rock, so characteristic of a kind of savage grandeur that [Page 191] the enraptured tourist may exclaim,

“Here man has made a home, whence came the war
Of Titans raged in fierce and deadly strife”.

Between Edden tree and Bradwell there are some names of fields that seemingly indicate a once existing mansion or large hall, not a vestige of which now remains. Hall-gate, Hall-gate fields, Beggar-pleck, or place, and other certain enclosures, are said to mark the supposed site of the bygone hall.

One of the most interesting objects in connection with Bradwell is the still existing traces of the old Roman road, which runs from Brough to Buxton, and is known as the Bathom Gate. On leaving the station at Brough, it is discoverable after leaving the Burghwash and Bull Meadow in a lane leading to Small Dale (on the verge of Bradwell); it then enters the inclosures called Doctor's Pasture and Bagshaw's Pasture, and is very visible on Bradwell and Tideswell Moors. Brough is only a short distance from Bradwell, and very interesting as being the site of a Roman station. In 1761, Pegge saw a rude bust of Apollo, and one of another deity in stone which had been found in the fields. Inscribed bricks, pieces of spears, swords, bridle bits, fragments of pavement, tiles, and various coins have been met with at sundry times. A large gold coin of Vespasian was turned up in a field in excellent preservation. Two fields called the Hallsteds are supposed to have formed a portion of the station.[6]

[1] This astrological jargon means, according to Bibley, “Arise! arise! I charge and command thee!”
[2] The water at and from Lumb Mouth is now scientifically applied in working a turbine wheel, in aid of a blast furnace for the smelting of slags; a purposes more in accordance with common sense and utility than locating a creature of the diseased intellect of humanity. - Whether the fish had been disturbed by machinery at Lumb Mouth and found fresh quarters, or assumed a new form not now recognisable, “is a one not to be readily cracked”.
[3] The host at Edden-tree, Mr. John Maltby, possesses, besides the good things of the world, a vast fund of local antiquarian lore, very happily combined with a pleasing frankness of disposition and good feeling.
[4] Pilkington's Derbyshire.
[5] A man of the name of Wooler perished on this eminence, - hence the origin of the present name - Wooler-edge.
[6] The beginning of this sketch may be thought to contain [Page 192] some stinging remarks respecting superstitious notions and practices; the author does not expect that any umbrage will be taken for Bradwell has only its share of the extremes of the times, while it has, in common with other High Peak villages, the full proportion of the intellect of the age. Of the last generation in this place, two individuals of one name, J_ B_, were distinguished for shrewdness and ability. The same village and generation knew one A_ M_, who had such a love and passion for hunting, that on being in Hope Church and about to be married; he, just as the ceremony was commencing, heard the hounds, when out of the church he bounded in quest of the pack, and the marriage had to be solemnized on a subsequent day.

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in January 2009.

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