Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Regicides, bears and bibles.

Today we intended making for the bottom of Bosley Locks but upon opening a bleary eye and observing the rain and the wind driven waves, at least two inches high, I concluded that we were better off staying where we were. So after gorging ourselves on smoked haddock, the rain having stopped, we set off for a better look at Congleton.

The White Lion in the High Street was once an attorneys office, in the early 17th C. it was where John Bradshaw was articled. Blank looks all round, I'd never heard of him either but in 1649 he was president of the kangaroo court that tried Charles Ist and his signature was the first on the royal death warrant. He was a big crony of the only military dictator to rule England, Oliver Cromwell. At the restoration they were both already dead but were dug up, beheaded and their heads displayed on spikes in London. Unpleasant lot the Stuarts.

Round the back of the town hall there is a pleasant little museum where you can find an explanation of Congleton's other name, Beartown. It seems that sometime in the reign of Good Queen Bess, just before the Wakes Week carnival, the town bear upped and died. Now bear baiting was considered great sport in those days and you couldn't have the Wakes without a bear, so how to acquire another? The answer is summed up in a local piece of doggerel,

                                    Congleton rare, Congleton rare,
                                    Sold the town bible to buy a bear.

Current apologists claim they didn't actually sell the bible, they just "Borrowed" the money from the fund set up to buy a new bible, so that was alright. Local politicians eh? They don't change.

There aren't a lot of buildings left from those days but this one is Little Street. It sells junk at inflated prices.
Now here is something different,

These are probably the oldest buildings associated with the silk industry in the town, they were weavers cottages, the hand looms being on the top floor with the large windows. They are now decidedly undes. res's, crumbling into ruin though still occupied.
At the bottom of town is the River Dane which originally supplied the power for the textile mills,

it's not a very big or deep river so we were amazed to find

this, beached next to the bridge. Explanations gratefully received.
Whilst on the subject of things you don't normally see,

I don't know which is the most impressive, the owl or the hat. They were collecting for a birds of prey sanctuary.
Tomorrow we aim to move on.

Watch this space............

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

I can't think of how many times we've been to Congleton but reading your blog today was SO interesting. It's so nice to see other people views of places and I love all the historical info you include. More please