The Davenport Arms, Woodford

Davenport Arms

This charming 18th century red-brick pub on Chester Road is more commonly referred to as ‘The Thief’s Neck’. This nickname refers to the insignia on the coat of arms of the Davenport family, which include a representation of a man with a rope around his neck. The Davenports were foresters to the King, that is, game-wardens for the forests of Leek and Macclesfield. As such, they had the power to punish poachers by hanging them.

Some say that a regular ‘court’ was held in the pub and offending poachers were hung from a tree close by. One tale associated with the pub and this awful practice tells of a young boy who was sentenced to hanging for unlawfully killing a deer. He was duly prepared with a hood over his head whilst the hangman was called to do his duty. Only when the boy was dead, taken down from the tree and his hood removed did the hangman realise that the poor boy was his own son.

A ghost story is also associated with one bedroom in the pub, whose atmosphere has caused distress to more than one resident. One man who stayed there explained how he had undressed ready for bed and hung his suit in the cupboard but once in bed he felt very uneasy. He could not explain why, except that he knew the cupboard itself had something to do with his discomfort. He even got out of bed and checked inside the cupboard but found nothing there apart from his suit.

The following morning, the landlord enquired if he had enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep and did not seem at all surprised when the answer was in the negative. The man then listened in shock to the landlord’s story about a maid who has worked here in the last century and who, it was believed, had been murdered. Her body had been hidden in that cupboard, where it had remained for some time.

Image cc-by-sa/2.0 – © David Dixongeograph.org.uk/p/4412950

About LancashireFolk

Lancashire folklore, legends, ghosts, local history - author of 'Lancashire Folk' published by Schiffer Publishing 2016 - 9780764349836 £19.50. 'Manchester Folk', covering Greater Manchester, coming in 2017!
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