Today’s story comes from a big battered volume. It must have been a lifetime’s labour of love and was published in 1880 by J P Earwaker. The work was dedicated to his father, James Earwaker of Brocklands, Alderley Edge.
“Alderley Edge is noted as being the scene of a curious legend or tradition, which appears to have been first recorded in print in the early part of this century, but to have been known and believed in the last century.
The story runs that a farmer from Mobberley whilst crossing the Edge on his way to Macclesfield, having with him a milk-white steed, was accosted by an old man dressed in a dark flowing gown, who offered him a price for the horse, which the farmer refused. The old man then said that no purchaser would be forthcoming at Macclesfield, but that on the farmer’s return he would again meet him and purchase the animal.
As he had been forewarned, no offer was made for the horse, and, returning with it towards Mobberley, he was again accosted by the old man, who ordered him to follow, and led the way towards a rock, which he struck, whereupon it opened, disclosing a massive pair of iron gates at the entrance to a deep cavern. The gates flew open with a terrible noise, and the farmer fell on his knees and besought the wizard to spare his life. He was then taken into the cavern, where he saw a countless number of men and milk-white steeds, all fast asleep.
After being paid for his horse, the wizard told him that a day would come when these men and horses would come forth and decide the fate of a great battle and save their country, and till that day no one should ever behold the iron gates again.”
Those of us that live locally know of the Wizard on the Edge, the mystique that in the past has attracted revellers at Halloween and the Weirdstone of Brisingaman, Alan Garner’s novel inspired by the mythology of this very special area.
But if myths, legends and story telling are not your thing, this great guidebook to East Cheshire, can interest you in its Churches:
or the genealogy of its wealthy families or the history of governance of our local towns and villages.
The boards are dark green and richly decorated in gold and black on the front, back and the spine but alas our book is now a reading copy only. Our volume has been horribly covered in sticky plastic and the loose spine affixed upside-down. Volume one is missing.
So we are looking for a customer who can ignore the physical delapidation of the book and focus on the wonderfully illuminating content.
East Cheshire, Past and Present, by J P Earwaker, Volume 2, is on sale at Oxfam Wilmslow for £24.99. (Update: This book has now been sold)