Something a little different after Guy Fawkes night, a little local history.
In a small rural enclave of old Staffordshire sits this dark and brooding area of woodland. Once part of the extensive Pensnett Chase, Himley Wood is one of the last remnants of this once vast forest, long lost to the plough and the sickle.
Himley Wood bears a terrible and mostly forgotten secret.
After the failed Gunpowder Plot of 5th November 1605, and following the apprehension of Guido Fawkes, the plotters, Ambrose Rookwood, John (Jack) Wright, Christopher (Kit) Wright, Thomas Percy, Robert Catesby, and the Winter Brothers, in the company of others and now desperate men, made their way north from London, seeking refuge where ever they could find a sympathetic roof. They finally came to rest at Holbeache House near Kingswinford, the home of Stephen Lyttleton, where, on 8 November 1605, Robert Walsh, the Sherriff of Worcester and his men caught up with them and laid siege to the house.
Amid the confusion of fighting, flames and the rattle of musket fire, Lyttleton’s Groom, a young lad by the name of Gideon Grove, managed to mount a horse and escape westwards towards the village of Wombourne, pursued vigorously by a contingent of the Sheriffs Men-at-Arms.
Already suffering a serious throat injury Gideon Grove entered Himley Wood which lies less that half a mile from Holbeache. Riding at break-neck speed along this leaf clad track, once a main bridleway, his mount lurched into the fetid swamp on the left of the photograph and horse and rider began to sink. The pursuers were upon the scene in seconds and as Grove called pitifully for help from his tormentors, his young life was cut brutally short by a volley of musket balls, whereupon the sheriffs men returned to Holbeache, leaving him to sink forever into the rancid bog.
It is rumoured that Grove’s shade still rides this ancient trackway and the lanes around Wombourne.
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Landscape and travel
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