The village of Hayfield was found first in the Doomsday Book under the name Hedfeld and was a natural clearing in the forest at the foot of the highest point in the Peak District, and the southern-most point of the Pennine Chain. It was a mill village from the 17th Century onward and the village is a popular place for walkers, and visitors to the Peak District. There are a couple of interesting little legends about the area which is why I have picked them for the blog.

There are two churches in the area, St Matthew and St John’s Methodist Church (the third was de-consecrated and currently in use as a library) and St Matthew has existed there since 1386. It was previously at Kirksteads and was not completed until 1405, it was then largely rebuilt in 1817/18 and the remnants of the building are visible in the church crypt. The St John’s Methodist Church dates from around 1782 and claims to be the 13th to have been built, and although the building has been added too, the four main walls are entirely original.

31st August 1745 Dr James Clegg, the minister of a Presbyterian Church at nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith, wrote to the Glossopdale Chronicle (local newspaper) reporting that “hundreds of bodies rose out of the grave in the open air” from the graveyard of St Matthews Church. They then proceeded to disappear leaving Dr Clegg to remark something that sounds rather Lovecraftian or Poe in nature “… what is become of them or in what distant region of this vast system they have since fixed their residence no mortal can tell.”

The village also had its very own witch; in 1760 Susannah Huggin sold wooden weaving pins and bewitching charms. An old sailor brought one of the charms and then shortly afterwards he disappeared, she was then discovered to be back in possession of the charm. The villagers blamed her for his disappearance; she was dragged in front of the George Pub and pelted with rotten fruit and stones, to the point at which she was almost killed. Later on somebody from the Tom Hey’s Farm then took the little charm but after a series of disasters, including milk not churning and animals refusing to eat, the charm was then exorcised by a reluctant Reverend Baddeley.

Hayfield Church 0158.JPG
By Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7349638

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