Listen to these wild traditions.
I have read in some old marvelous tale, some legend weird and vague.
THE district of Hyde is far from lacking what is termed folk-lore; and there have been handed down from the long gone past legends of strange events which occurred in that indefinite and romantic “once upon a time.”
One legend connects the locality with the famous hero of romance-bold Robin Hood. On the Ludworth Moor are two curious upright stone pillars rising from a massive stone base-the whole bearing the name of Robin Hood’s Picking Rods. Tradition asserts that this relic of antiquity is a Druid altar, and that in a later age it was used as a target by Robin Hood and his merry men when they visited these parts, and indulged in archery practice. It is asserted that on one occasion Robin Hood stood on the crest of Werneth Low, and, as a trial of strength, he seized a massive rock that lay there, and hurled it westwards towards the Cheshire plain. The rock fell some miles away, and may be seen to this day in the bed of the river Tame, near to Hulme’s Wood, and almost opposite and Arden Paper Mill. It is a huge mass, almost round, perhaps over five feet in height, and several tons in weight, and on its surface is the rude shape of a man’s hand, which is claimed to be the mark left by the grip of the sturdy forester. in the river bed a short distance further down the stream are the broken fragments of a smaller rock; these are called “Little John’s stones,” and are said to Robin Hood’s henchman, “ Little John”. Lest any man should doubt the ability of the two foresters to hurt great rocks so far, the traditions add that the fairies, who always loved Robin Hood, aided that immortal forester, and, invisible to mortal eyes, bore the rock through the air.
Legends of Ambrosius, of King Arthur and his knights, and of other mythical heroes have their home in Longdendale. The most popular Longdendale story is the one relative to the Staley effigy in Mottram church. It is said that Sir Ro. Or Ralph, the knight of Staley Hall, on leaving these parts to fight with Richard I. in the Crusades, broke his wife’s wedding ring in two, and each retaining half they swore fidelity till death. Sir Ro, after many heroic deeds in battle, was captured by the Saracens, and kept in prison for many years. One night he dreamed of some great evil likely to overtake his wife and kindred at home, and so oppressed was he by the dream that, on awakening, he fell on his knees and prayed to God to restore him to his native place. He fell asleep, and shortly afterwards again awoke, but lo! The whole scene was changed; instead of a Saracen prison there was an English landscape, and before him was his old ancestral hall of Staley. The spot where he was lying was afterwards known as Roe Cross, a name it still retains.
The legend goes on to state that on knocking for admittance at his gate, Sir Ro was not recognized by his servants, who, nevertheless, according to the old laws of English hospitality, brought him a cup of country wine, and bread to eat. They further informed him that tidings having come from the Holy Land of their lord’s captivity and death, their lady was about to contract a second marriage, which, however, was being forced upon her. Sir Ro, on hearing this, produced the broken half to the wedding ring, and dropping it into the cup bade the maiden take it to her mistress. The Lady of Staley on seeing it was convinced of her husband’s safety, and full of joy she sprang to greet him, all thoughts of the second marriage vanishing at once. Sir Ro drove off the unwelcome suitor, embraced his wife; “and,” says tradition, “they lived happy ever after”.