In an earlier post this week I mentioned Wild Edric our heroic Saxon warlord who challenged the Norman interlopers and ended up as a ghost haunting the Stiperstones. Now shunt forward a few hundred years to the 1640s, a time when England was locked in civil war: Roundhead Parliamentarians versus Charles 1 and the Royalist army. The Parliamentarians were intent on curbing the king’s proclivities to do as he liked at the nation’s expense; the Royalists were set on protecting the monarch’s prerogative.
We’ve shifted from the South Shropshire hills to Wenlock Edge, a wooded limestone escarpment that rears up above the county’s farming lowland for nearly 20 miles. Enter one Major Thomas Smallman, fleeing on horseback from his home in nearby Wilderhope Manor. He is a King’s man, carrying despatches for the Royalist headquarters in the county town of Shrewsbury, some dozen miles away. On his heels are Cromwell’s troops. Trying to evade them, the major veers off along the Edge. But there’s no escape. He and horse leap over the precipice. It is a two hundred foot drop. The major was caught up in a crab apple tree, and so survived to deliver his despatches to Shrewsbury, but his valiant horse was lost. Perhaps that’s why a ghostly major on horseback may sometimes be glimpsed near this signpost on the Edge footpath.
And to give you a notion of what lay before the major when his horse took off:
The Square Odds #10
15 thoughts on “And Another Shropshire Ghost”
Keep these stories coming! Wonderful.
What a story….
OH worked at Wilderhope but never saw the major. He says have you heard of Ipperkin?
Yes, he gets a mention around the place. Also we have a fab knitting shop called Ippikin. Shame OH can’t provide verification of the ghostly major.
oh the poor horse!
Yes. It’s v. hideous for the horse.
A leap of faith! That’s a good yarn, Tish.
Is that around where “Silas Marner” is supposed to be based? Those hills are what I picture when I read that book.
I had to look this up to check. Apparently Eliot chose Warwickshire for her setting, a little further south from Shrophire (Shakespeare’s home county in fact). Hilly certainly, but over all more undulating than Shropshire.
Poor horse but lucky Major! Beautiful hills…so long as you’re not going over the edge toward them.
That would indeed be a terrifying prospect, Janet.
Interesting as always.