Fletcher Moss, a new source on North Staffordshire folk-lore

I’m pleased to find a new and previously unknown source on Staffordshire folklore, and it’s a subtantial 330-page book.

Fletcher Moss, Folk-lore, old customs and tales of my neighbours, 1898.

It may have been overlooked by Staffordshire folklorists and bibliographers because the author was the vicar at Didsbury in Cheshire, now swamped as a suburb of south Manchester. Although the author writes that Stockport was the market town for Didsbury (“they knew little or nothing of Manchester” back then, he writes).

More importantly, the preface to his book states that he also draws heavily on the lore of his father’s family in rural north Staffordshire: at Standon Hall (a few miles south-west of Trentham) and Mees [Hall], and Walford (about three miles west of Stone). Standon Hall is also where the author passed his childhood and he frequently returned to visit while a vicar. It is not to be confused with the rather ugly new Hall built in the village in 1910 and which later became a hospital. The author grew up at what is now Standon Old Hall, which apparently goes back to the 11th century but is seen here after what appears to have been a partial restoration…

But where was “Mees”? The place escapes the modern map makers, but the author elaborates in another book: “My father was born at Mees Hall, which is in Eccleshall parish, on the Staffordshire border, near to Standon church and parish.” So again, near to Trentham and the Potteries.

Possibly the same as what was later known as Meece Old Hall, Ecceleshall.

It looks very promising and I’ll be having a read, and noting any especially nice bits of local folklore. (Update: the information has now been extracted, as “The North Staffordshire folk-lore of Fletcher Moss”).

Moss also produced seven (some say nine) volumes of Pilgrimages to old homes, substantial books containing short accounts of his visits to various antiquarian and architectural gems.

He was such a fine fellow they named the local pub after him, in Didsbury, ‘The Fletcher Moss’. His home environment at Didsbury certain appears to have been conducive to his collecting of folklore…

Regrettably his photographic archive appears to have perished, and the National Archive can only suggest some papers in the Manchester local archives.

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