The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

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R. Stephenson-Smythe

#3001 The Murder Stone

Post by R. Stephenson-Smythe »

Hello David,

Of course we have no objections to you using any information on this site regarding the Murder Stone. The site is for the people to read and, hopefully, appreciate.

I haven’t much more information regarding the murder except to say that bodies were always taken to the nearest pub for a virtually immediate inquest.
William Wood’s body should have been taken to Mrs Swan’s Beerhouse; also known as the Swan.
There are reports that he was taken there but Mrs Swan would not open the doors presumed drunk.

So the body was taken to the Cock Hotel (now the Jodrell Arms of course).

The Cock Hotel apparently had 2 names prior to becoming the Cock Hotel; firstly The Farmer’s Arms and then The Grapes but I don’t have any dates for the name changes. You may be able to work it out for yourself.

On another matter I do have some information on Errwood Hall that I am sure is unique and time permitting will post it on the Errwood Hall site later today.

R. S-S



drstir
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#3002 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by drstir »

Many thanks, R. S-S.

You obviously put a lot of time into transcribing the various press reports, so I wanted to check before using any of the material.

I'm still trying to make sense of all the information, particularly the various places associated with the murder. But it's an interesting challenge.

I look forward to reading your info on Errwood Hall. It sounds intriguing.

David



R. Stephenson-Smythe

#3003 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by R. Stephenson-Smythe »

Hi David,


As you know I have had a long standing interest in Errwood Hall and the Grimhaw family. An acquaintance of mine, who may no longer be with us had the same interest. His name was Harold Clarke and, if he is still around, I am sure he wouldn’t mind me telling his tale.

Harold was a loveable rogue. He always had something to sell for instance and he was a pretty thief but he used his experience of breaking and entering to become a burglar alarm fitter. He fitted one for me and it was brilliant. Cash only of course.

Once while doing some casual work, he never had a proper job, he was helping to paint Disley police station. He had noticed there was a cell in the rear and he asked the desk sergeant if it was any good. The desk sergeant said nobody had ever broken out and Harold bet him that he could.
The bet was set at £5. A lot in those days.
The sergeant took him on but he had to go through the same procedure as anyone else That is he was searched thoroughly and locked in. There were 2 huge locks in the iron door and Harold was locked in
He said to the officer: “When I open the cell do you want me to open the connecting door or go out round the back and come in through the front?”
The policemen laughed and told Harold they would let him out after they had had their lunch.
Before the officers had taken the first bite of their sandwiches they heard a large clunk and looked at each other; Harold had picked one of the locks and a couple of seconds later he had the other one undone.
He quickly picked the lock between the cell and the office and walked in saying: “£5 please.

Some time later Harold was up before the beak for some offence and was found guilty and sentenced to 3 months. He told the Magistrate he could do that standing on his head to which the Magistrate said: “In that case we will double it to enable you to get back on your feet again”.

Harold said: “You can’t do that my sister Joan is getting married at Taxal Church in 4 months”.
He was taken down but shouted: “I’ll be at the Church Joan”. And he was hiding up a tree opposite.

So getting back to Errwood. At the rear of the Hall were the graves for the dogs and right down in the stream was a safe. Harold went down and picked the lock. If there was anything in it he never told me but he re-locked it and left it there. Not long after it had gone.

In the early 70’s there was a huge mound at the front of the Hall and it had a large monkey puzzle tree growing on top of it. It was rather strange to say the least and Harold was convinced the Grimshaw’s had buried some treasure within the mound. He wanted to go up with some copper tubes and knock them in, twisting them every few inches so they didn’t get stuck. Then we were to go home and push a rod through to see if there were any signs of buried treasure. I never went and didn’t go to the Hall for a few years. When I did the monkey puzzle had gone and so had the mound. Whether it was anything to do with Harold I have no idea but it was a coincidence all the same.
I only saw Harold a couple of times after that and he had a job working for the police opening safes that had been recovered from dubious places.

R. S-S



drstir
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#3004 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by drstir »

What a wonderful tale, R. S-S! You ok if I put it on the website?

Should I change the name - or have you already done this?

Just wondering how to illustrate it. Could you pin-point the position on a map and I'll nip down and take a photo?

Also, I'm not sure I've seen any dogs' graves down that way. Are they still there?

David



R. Stephenson-Smythe

#3005 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by R. Stephenson-Smythe »

Hi David,

Absolutely no problem in you using the true story of Harold Clarke on your website.

Harold was, of course, his real name and everyone of a certain age in WB will know of him.

There is just one addition to the story and it is this:

One night when Harold was, let’s say on the run, and was hiding in the Goyt Valley he was caught by 2 of the Brocklehurst family who used to farm the Valley.
They told him they were going to hand him in to the local police station.
Harold replied thus:
“OK boys but if I escape later tonight I’ll come back here and set fire to all your haystacks and tip all you milk churns over. Your choice”.
Needless to say they let him go.

As regards to the pet’s graves; they didn’t have stone headstones like the family. I think they were simple wooden crosses with names such as Lucky and Towser written on them.
I imagine they were thrown away after the Hall finally closed.

Some time in the future I’ll let you know where some of the stone and the window frames went to after the Hall closed.

R. S-S



drstir
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#3006 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by drstir »

Thanks R. S-S: https://goyt-valley.org.uk/buried-treasure/
I'm just hoping I don't get sued!



drstir
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#3007 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by drstir »

Dear R. S-S.

Just wondering if you have scans of the newspaper articles that you've transcribed. Particularly the report in the Manchester Mercury of 22nd July 1823.

It's only the headline and a couple of paras of text I'm after. I'll split the story into a number of sections, and this would be good to illustrate the first one.

David



gritch
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#3008 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by gritch »

Hi dstir
I have access to the newspapers on FMP (findmypast) if this can help


Gail

drstir
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#3009 Re: The Murder Stone, William Wood, Joseph Dale

Post by drstir »

Thanks Gritch. That's much appreciated. I've just replied to your email. David



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