Stories from the Archives
Browse through this collection of stories drawn from many sources including the Society's archive, newspapers and online sources. The catalyst to begin research varies from an inquiry that comes to Society, a document that arrives at the archive, or another trigger that sets the delving off.
What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot if your name is Miss Jane Marple, Agatha Christie’s eponymous heroine. The star of 12 crime novels and 20 short stories, local folklore believed that Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth was named after Marple station because the author passed through it on one occasion. This is not true but the station does figure prominently in the actual story. In July 2015 the station celebrated its 150th anniversary (coincidentally, the 125th anniversary of Agatha’s birth) and her grandson Mathew Prichard was invited to Marple. He brought with him a letter written by his grandmother to a Miss Marple fan, explaining how she came by the name.
This wonderful image is of William Hyde who was born in Denton in 1801. He was sexton of All Saints Church, Marple for 42 years until his death in 1865. During that time, a sexton was a ‘man of all trades’ as the role included grave digging, clerk and maintenance of the church.
Samuel Oldknow’s Georgian Church replaced an older and much smaller wooden church. It was perched on Marple Ridge at the heart of a small isolated group of buildings set amongst pastures and lying beside the long-established route between Marple and Disley. Nowadays, we do not associate the area around the church as being ‘The Ridge’ but that is how the land between the Church and Hill Top Farm is designated on old maps. ...........................
The inscription on this gravestone has always intrigued me. Who was Annie Fletcher and how had she become nurse to the royal family? Why was she buried in All Saints churchyard?
Annie, (or Ann as she was christened) was born in 1861 in Crow Nest Lane, Beeston, which is about three miles south of Leeds. Her parents William and Sarah were from Aspul near Wigan and her father was a fireman in a coalmine. A fireman was an official in charge of a district of the mine who would go down into the pit before a shift began to check that the working places were free from firedamp, and other impurities. If dangerous gases were found, it was the fireman’s responsibility to clear the air so that it was safe for the miners to work.
The census returns give us an insight into the family’s background. In the 1851, William, aged 11, the son of a miner, is described as a coal miner’s waggoner.
Some times something really interesting turns up when you least expect it. I came across this photograph recently at Archives, and was intrigued to find out more. Stamped on the reverse are the words “Air Ministry”. Why is “Marple” painted on the engine cowling? Could it be linked to one of the Marple men who fought in the First World War?
October 1859 – letter from William Foster, ship’s carpenter to his wife:
“My dear wife, I am sorry to inform you that the ship is a complete wreck. She has gone to pieces this morning, about 5 o’clock. There are only 25 – 30 of us saved out of about 400 souls.
Dear wife, give my love to the children and tell them I will be home as soon as the letter.”
Amongst the passengers who did not survive was Sarah Ann Foster (neé Woodruff). Sarah was born in Hatherlow in the township of Bredbury on the 28th April 1821 and christened at Hatherlow Independent church. Her mother was Mary Woodruff and it is likely that Sarah was illegitimate, as her father’s name is not recorded.