The Ship Inn
Sir Philip Brocklehurst of Swythamley Hall sailed with the explorer Shackleton on one of his expeditions to the Antarctic from 1907-9. He is listed as being aged 20, and as Assistant Geologist although some sources say he was a paying guest. The pub sign on the Ship Inn depicts the Nimrod in Antarctic ice (and not the more famous Endeavour of the 1914 expedition). Shackleton was also Sir Philip's best man when he married Gwladys Murray in 1913.
Some say The Ship is named after another vessel, the ‘Swythamley’, which was owned by a friend of the squire and sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1862. But as the pub reputedly dates back to the 17th century, it's possible that the name is linked with 'shippen', a local word for a sheep shelter, or with some much earlier boat altogether.
However, when it actually became a pub is by no means certain. There are well known stories of royalist rebels visiting it in the 18th century (see below, courtesy of the 1745 Society), and the 'Rebel Gun' and a framed story from a Manchester newspaper of the day were supposedly displayed in the pub until relatively recently.
Yet a map of the area dated 1774 has no Ship Inn listed. The 19th century censuses first record a victualler/farmer (Samuel Cundiff) at the right place in 1851, whereas in 1841 he is recorded simply as a farmer. As the names Cundiff and Cunliffe are very similar, possibly the two men were related or separate facts have been combined into one good story!
The Ship Inn in 1745 (from the 1745 Society)
In December 1745, Alexander Maclean, a straggler from Bonnie Prince Charlie's retreating highland army, called at the Ship Inn, Wincle, and demanded some food. Whilst he was eating, the landlord, Joseph Cunliffe, succeeded in snatching up the highlander's musket, and held him at gunpoint until the arrival of the local magistrate, Sir Peter Davenport, before whom the said Alexander Maclean
"Confesseth and Sayeth that he was Born in the Highlands of Scotland and was taken in wth the Rebells at Athol in Scotland aforesaid and marched with them until he was apprehended."
This deposition was signed with his mark. Maclean was imprisoned under the harshest conditions, firstly in Chester Castle, and later in the castle at York, where he was sent for trial. He was a pedlar, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to death on October 2nd 1746, but the sentence was later commuted to transportation for life. Until half a century ago, the "Rebel Gun" could be seen at the inn, hanging on a lintel above the bar. His subsequent fate is unknown.
It was to this farm that John Nadin came to work as a labourer in the 18th century. The farmer’s wife, Julia Brough, was so passionately in love with him she eventually persuaded him to murder her husband, only to betray him to the police after the deed was done. He was the last person to be hanged from the public gibbet on nearby Gun Hill on 31st August 1731, witnessed by the choir of Leek Parish Church and a large crowd of ghoulish onlookers.
Wincle’s parish church was built in 1647 on the
site of a Neolithic burial mound, and heavily restored
in 1882. According to Sir Philip Brocklehurst’s
book on the area, it was once said that a certain hospital
in Manchester procured the bulk of its anatomical subjects
from Wincle church’s graveyard, thanks to an unscrupulous
sexton who was bribed to dispatch the bodies the night
after they were buried.
The floor was originally not paved as it is now, but
covered in rushes, renewed every July in a celebration
that became known as ‘rush-bearing’.
Built by two ladies as a summer residence in the 19th
century, Bagstones sits on the edge of the woods with
wonderful views over the Dane valley. It may be named
after the bak- or bake-stones that were quarried nearby
and used for making old-cake, or the name may refer
to ‘bagg’ which means badger in certain
The ladies were well-travelled and avid collectors,
and their house once contained a remarkable treasure
trove of relics from all over the world as well as the
local area – including the urn that was excavated
from the burial mound near Clulow Cross.
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The woodlands of Wincle and Danebridge
Wincle developed in an area of ancient enclosure which
would indicate early settlement of this particular area.
Danebridge was known to be enclosed prior to 1809 though
no earlier map evidence exists. The area of managed
woodland known as Bagstones Wood is the most recent
plantation in the locality. It was planted between 1774
and 1848. Most other plantation woodland that surround
Danebridge and Wincle including Hog Clough and Timberhurst
Wood predate 1774. Timberhurst Wood and the area of
woodland at Holehouse Bank to the east are on the sites
of ancient woodland.
Although not in the parish of Wincle, Swythamley Hall
and its owners have had a significant effect on the
local landscape and landmarks.
John Brocklehurst, a Macclesfield silk manufacturer, purchased the hall in 1831. John was succeeded in 1839 by his son William, who died childless in 1859 and the Hall passed to his nephew Philip Lancaster Brocklehurst. Created a baronet in 1903, Philip was succeeded in 1904 by his son, also Philip. The latter was succeeded in 1975 by his sister's grandson, John van Haeften, who broke up the estate in 1977.
The hall, with its parkland, was bought by the World Government for the Age of Enlightenment, followers of the Indian mystic, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and was opened as a training centre for teachers of Transcendental Meditation. It was sold in 1987 to Mr. R. M. Naylor.
Sir Philip rebuilt the Dane Bridge in 1869, significantly improving the poor road conditions of the time.
The Ship in Wincle is possibly named after one of the squire’s friend’s vessels (see above), and the pub’s sign commemorates their trip to the Antarctic.
Also the local wildlife acquired an exotic addition when wallabies escaped from his bother, Courtney's, private zoo in 1938 at nearby Roach House there are still reports of occasional sitings in the Roaches area.
After being sold following the death of Sir Philip,
the house was used as a center for transcendental meditation
for a while, before being converted into 8 residential
units. The walled park is still much as it was in 1800,
with expanses of grass and woods.
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