Will a new one be added to our repertoire?
Warwickshire can rub hold its own with just about any English county when it comes to local legends and lore.
But, are we about to have a new legend based in Warwickshire?
We’ll get to what triggered this question in a moment.
First, let’s take a look at some classic Warwickshire myths and legends.
Churchill sacrificed Coventry
From November 14th to November 15th in 1940, Coventry faced one of the most devastating air raids of World War II.
Hundreds of German bombers pounded the city, reducing much of it to rubble.
This much is verified history.
The next bit involves Enigma and Ultra.
What was the alleged conspiracy?
In 1974, a guy called Winterbotham, who’d been involved in the dissemination of intelligence gleaned from Enigma intercepts, published a The Ultra Secret.
For the uninitiated
Enigma - The system used by Germany to encrypt military communication in World War II.
Ultra - The UK code name for intelligence gained by breaking enemy communication during World War II.
In the book, Winterbotham claimed that Ultra had uncovered German plans for bombing Coventry through intercepted messages.
But then Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that no defensive action be taken, otherwise the Germans might realize that their prized encryption system had been broken.
Established historians have dismissed it as a myth, but the story lives on.
Payment of Wroth Silver
Every year on the 11th of November (St Martin’s Day), a large crowd gathers at Knight-low Hill near Stretton-on-Dunsmore.
Among them will be representatives of 25 Warwickshire parishes.
Also present will be an agent of the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord of the Hundred of Knightlow.
They’re all there to take part in the handover of the Wroth Silver.
As each representative is called, they step forward in front of a hollow stone, chanting ‘Wroth Silver’ and then place money into the stone.
This is followed by a group breakfast at a nearby pub.
It’s obvious to most that this is an outlandish custom of tax payment that’s been passed on through generations.
However, what exactly that tax is, why it was levied, and why it was collected in that matter isn’t known for sure.
The Holy Grail had been kept somewhere in Warwickshire?
For the uninitiated
The Holy Grail is supposed to be the cup used at The Last Supper, and in which the blood of Jesus was collected during the Crucifixion.
The Grail has never been located...and trying to locate it has been a project of many historians and enthusiasts.
In 1995, an amateur historian called Dr Graham Phillips tracked it to Warwickshire.
His research seemed to indicate that a small green onyx cup that had been kept inside a box in a loft in a house in Rugby was in fact the Grail.
Is Warwickshire really the final resting place of the Grail?
There have been other claims.
Nevertheless, it remains a part of Warwickshire lore.
A historical ball game
Every year, on Shrove Tuesday - the day before Lent begins - the town of Atherstone girds up for a special event.
Shops shutter early, as do local schools.
At 3 in the afternoon, crowds gather at Long Street in expectation of a local celebrity throwing down a ball from a balcony.
And that’s how the ball game starts - the objective being to be the one in possession of the ball at 5 in the evening, when the game ends.
Here are the rules:
- Players are restricted to Long Street.
- Players are not allowed to kill anyone.
A suitable plot for an escape room game?
It seems to be a holdover from 1199, when Warwickshire and Leicestershire played such a game to decide ownership of a bag of gold.
Those are just FOUR of the many legends pervading our county.
But, there’s just the chance one more may be in the works.
The ghost of Astley Castle?
Although it’s called a ‘castle’, it’s more a manor house than a castle.
It’s heavily fortified, complete with moat, and does have a castle-like atmosphere.
Mr Sanders speculates that the lady could be the ‘Nine Day Queen’ - Lady Jane Grey - who did spend some time at the castle in the 1550’s.
Lady Grey was proclaimed Queen on 10th July 1553, but lost the title on 19th when she was declared a usurper, charged with high treason and executed.
Is it really her ghost that walks the grounds of Astley Castle?
Does Warwickshire have a new legend?
You be the judge.
And if you’re in the mood for a dungeon adventure, or investigating murder, you can check out these online escape rooms.
Featured image courtesy Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash.