HERE is one thing exceeding strange, but attested in my hearing by many persons, and commonly believ'd. Before any heir of this [Brereton] family dies, there are seen in a lake adjoyning, the bodies of trees swimming upon the water for several days together.--Camden : Brit. (Gibson's ed.), i. 677.

That black ominous mere,
Accounted one of those that England's wonders make,
Of neighbours Blackmere named, of strangers Brereton's lake,
Whose property seems farre from reason's way to stand;
She sends up stocks of trees that on the top doe floate,
By which the world her first did for a wonder note.

--Drayton: Polyolb., xi. 90-96.

Mrs. Hemans wrote a poem on this lake, "The Vassal's Lament for the Fallen Tree."


The boundaries of the parish were marked by a series of wells, which used to be cleaned out by the parishioners in their perambulations. A curious entry exists respecting the well on Dodleston Moor, 1642 :

This year the Curate of Gresford with some of the parishioners, having come for divers yeares to Moor Well, some of them over the Moor, and some of them through Pulford parish in procession, saying that they were sent thither to claim that well to be in their parish, and now this yeare when they were in the Moor, they saw some soldiers standing by the well, which wanted to see their fashions, on which the said Curate and his company went back again, and never came again to the well.--Murray's Guide to Cheshire, 156.


In the grounds of Capesthorne is a fine sheet of water called Reedsmere, containing a floating island about 1 ½ acres in size, which in strong winds is blown here and there. A country legend accounts for this floating island by a story that a certain knight was jealous of his lady-love, and vowed not to look upon her face until the island moved on the face of the mere. But he fell sick, and was nigh to death, when he was nursed back to health by the lady, to reward whose constancy a tremendous hurricane tore the island up by the roots.--Ibid., 95.



On Ascension Day, the old inhabitants of Nantwich piously sang a hymn of thanksgiving for the blessing of the Brine. A very ancient pit, called the Old Brine, or Biat (Partridge's History of Nantwich, 1774, p. 59), was also held in great veneration, and till within these few years was annually on this festival decked with flowers and garlands, and was encircled by a jovial band of young people, celebrating the day with song and dance. Aubrey says: In Cheshire, when they went in perambulation, they did blesse the springs, i.e., they did read the Gospel at them, and did believe the water was the better. (Gentilisme and Judaisme, p. 58.)


In the woods at Alderley Edge, at the foot of a rock, is a dropping well called "Holy Well."


All kinds of legends are current about Rostherne, as is the case with most lakes which are reported to be deep. One is, that a mermaid comes up on Easter Day and rings a bell; another, that it communicates with the Irish Channel by a subterranean passage; another that it once formed, with Tabley, Tatton, Mere, and other lakes, a vast sheet of water that covered the country between Alderley Edge and High Leigh.


The Synagogue Well, evidently one of great antiquity, and, before an attempt was made to improve it, of most picturesque appearance, is in the grounds of Park Place, Frodsham, late belonging to Joseph Stubs, Esq. The origin of the term "Synagogue Well," has occasioned much discussion, but the tradition respecting it may be considered as embodied in the following stanzas. Of Frodsham Castle, which was contiguous to the well, scarcely a vestige remains.



The Roman, in his toilsome march,
Disdainful viewed this humble spot,
And thought not of Egeria's fount
And Numa's grot.



No altar crowned the margin green,
No dedication marked the stone;
The warrior quaffed the living stream
And hasten'd on.


Then was upreared the Norman keep,
Where from the vale the uplands swell
But, unobserved, in crystal jets
The waters fell.


In conquering Edward's reign of pride,
Gay streamed his flag from Frodsham's tower,
But saw no step approach the wild
And sylvan bower ;


Till once, when Mersey's silvery tides
Were reddening with the beams of morn,
There stood beside the fountain clear
A man forlorn;


And, as his weary limbs he lav'd
In its cool waters, you might trace
That he was of the wand'ring tribe
Of Israel's race.


With pious care, to guard the spring,
A masonry compact he made,
And all around its glistening verge
Fresh flowers he laid.


"God of my fathers!" he exclaimed,
Beheld of old in Horeb's mount,
Who gav'st my sires Bethesda's pool
And Siloa's fount,


Whose welcome streams, as erst of yore,
To Judah's pilgrims never fail,
Tho' exil'd far from Jordan's banks
And Kedron's Vale



Grant that when yonder frowning walls,
With tower and keep are crush'd and gone;
The stones the Hebrew raised may last,
And from his Well the strengthening spring
May still flow on!

--Palatine Note Book, iv. 99, 100.