first is a slight but charming legend from Knutsford itself, where
language and folklore seem to mingle. As befits Knutsford, it concerns
nuts (not unfortunately King Canute who may or may not have given
his name to the town). An elderly lady was buried in the Old Churchyard
at Knutsford, with the unusual stipulation that a small sack of
hazel nuts in their shells be placed beneath her head. This was
duly done - but the nuts proved uncomfortable, so she turned in
her coffin. T'other side was no better, so she arose from her grave
one moonlight night, and proceeded to crack and eat the hazel nuts,
seated on her own tombstone. She then folded the sack for a pillow,
retired to her coffin and troubled the mortal sublunary world no
But one nut had rolled away unseen. It sprouted and grew. It fruited
and its own nuts attracted the attention of local truants. As Henry
Green noted in 1869 in his small, but beautifully written book Knutsford:
the nut-tree 'was looked upon with wonder, as an undeniable witness
for all who love the marvellous and believe in church-yard verities.'
second story has uncanny temporal twists. Somewhere on the A537
from Knutsford to Chelford in the 1800s, a group of three people
passed the turnpike at about midnight in a horse-drawn gig. The
young man in the centre was noted by the gatekeeper as being supported
by the other two. Next day his dead body was found by the road at
Ollerton. His clothes and his soft hands suggested someone of some
social standing, but his identity was never discovered, though the
clothes were retained as evidence for many years.
The story passed into local legend. It occurs in Henry Green's
1869 History of Knutsford. But the sequel is even more astonishing.
It occurs in Cheshire Notes and Queries for 1889, when a reader,
Albert A Birchenough, wrote in to express his astonishment at the
Green story. In October 1872 he had been walking to Chelford, and
having passed Norbury Booths, was halfway along his journey. It
was a Sunday, the countryside was silent, and the night was clear,
with a starry sky. Behind him he heard a 'conveyance' with the rattling
of wheels and horses. He moved aside to let it pass, but it seemed
to stop some 20 yards behind him. There was a sound of voices and
two or three persons jumping down.
He turned, and went back to ask for a lift, but there was nothing
there. A passer-by came up from the Chelford direction, and eyed
with suspicion someone wandering around in the road at that hour.
Birchenough explained the reason ,and asked if there were any turnings
here - 'no'
Perhaps they were poachers? 'Hardly likely to be in a gig'.
So, some decades after the events, a stranger notes a strange event;
it takes him several decades more to realise the meaning of what
From: "Around Haunted Manchester" by Peter Portland (AMCD