Saddleworth, soaked in history and much of it bloody, here on a wet,blustery August day I found myself stood amongst the forgotten Victorian graves in the old, overgrown part of Saddleworth cemetery. The view is magnificent, tearing across the valley and beyond, Uppermill hidden below, seemingly unaware of the tranquility above. The weeds and the grasses and bracken tossed violently in the unrelenting wind as I held my tripod and camera firmly, on went the 10-stop for the 90-second exposures I wanted to make here, the movement of the foreground, the static stones and the threatening sky beyond.. I couldn't ask for more today. Behind me stood the church of St Chad, next to the wonderful Church pub, it took me a while to find the grave of William and Thomas Bradbury which sits tucked away in a deep recess of the old churchyard as if in shame, however, there's more to this grave than the hundreds of others which lie, sinking and forgotten in this ivy-covered patch of 18th century consecrated ground. Father and Son they were brutally murdered in their beds on April 2nd 1832 - the huge slab of stone goes on in poetic style to describe the event and subsequent morbid interest, telling the tale of shocking deaths, savage murders and lacerated, bloody bodies:
Throughout the land wherever news is read.
Intelligence of their sad end has spread.
Those now who talk of far-famed Greenfield hills.
Will think of Bill o’ Jack’s and Tom o’ Bills
Such interest did their tragic end excite.
That, ere they were removed from human sight.
Thousands on thousands came to see.
The bloody scene of catastrophe.
One house, one business, and one bed.
And one most shocking death they had.
One funeral came, one inquest past.
And now one grave they had a last.
Nobody was ever brought to justice and so father & son lie together eternally. This was a brutal place and it was no surprise to me that I didn't see a soul whilst I was photographing the churchyard. I would like to return here when the deep, bleak winter snow has fallen, no doubt it will take on an even-lonelier feel.
I comforted myself later on as I sat in the Church Inn, drink in hand as I met up with a friend of mine who lives in the area and we talked for hours.