Yesterday I went for a walk with a friend and was fascinated by The Hanging Stone – a gritstone rock outcrop on Back Forest Ridge on the western side of the Peak District, just to the north of The Roaches. It overlooks Swythamley Hall, which was the home of the Brocklehurst family who owned the Roaches Estate until the death of the last in line in 1978.
As far as I am aware, there haven’t been any hangings that took place there, so the rock probably took its name from the fact that the upper layers of rock overhang slightly, or maybe from the old-english word ‘hangra’, meaning ‘a wood on a steep hill-side’. It certainly is on a steep hillside which may have once been wooded.
Being the only such stone in the immediate area, it really stands out on your approach from lower ground. The Hanging Stone is also interesting because it bears two inscriptions. One about a dog, and the other in memory of Lt Col Courtney Brocklehurst – the man responsible for the presence of wallabies on the Roaches.
The inscription about the dog is professionally carved into the rock and says:
“Beneath this Rock
August 1st 1874
was buried BURKE
a noble mastiff black and tan
faithful as woman
braver than man
a gun and a ramble
his hearts desire
with the friend of his life
the Swythamley squire”
The squire obviously loved his dog!
The other inscription which can be seen on my photograph is the plaque in memory of Lt Col Henry Courtney-Brocklehurst. It is becoming rather weathered and is difficult to read now, but from research I have found that the wording was as follows:
LT COL HENRY COURTNEY BROCKLEHURST 10TH ROYAL HUSSARS AND PILOT IN THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS 1916-1918 GAME WARDEN OF THE SUDAN. BORN AT SWYTHAMLEY MAY 27TH 1888 KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE IN BURMA ON COMMANDO JUNE 1942
“Horses he loved and laughter, the sun, with spaces and the open air. The trust of all dumb living things he won and never knew the luck too good to share. His were the simple heart and open hand and honest faults he never strove to hide. Problems of life he could not understand but as a man would wish to die, he died. Now though he will not ride with us again, his merry spirit seems our comrade yet, Freed from the power of weariness and pain, forbidding us to mourn or to forget….
Erected by his devoted brother 1949″
At Peak Walking Adventures, we don’t currently offer any open group walks in this part of the Peak District, but we are able to provide personal walking guides to help you and your friends or family to discover this beautiful area.