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customs & legends




customs and legends

In the Middle Ages, following afternoon service on Christmas day, apples were thrown down to the village children, originally from the belfry of the church, but later from outside The Rectory. When there was a death in the village, the church bells were rung three times for a man, and twice for a woman, to let the villagers know that someone had passed away.

Bury House is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a female servant who was pushed from an upstairs window by the butler. Since then, her uniformed shadow has haunted the area, looking for justice. She has also been sighted in Bury Close and the Hunting Lodge. Source

There have also been reports of a 'shuck' sighted in the old Corby Road area. A shuck is a fire-eyed spirit in the shape of a large black dog, about the size of a calf. The shuck is also known as Padfoot, Shriker and Barguest in different areas of the country. Cottingham's shuck was regarded as the travellers' friend, walking in silence alongside lone travellers. A padfoot actually makes an appearance in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'! Source and Paw of the Padfoot


Murder in Cottingham, 1875

A tragic murder took place in Blind Lane on 1 May 1875. A six year old boy, Thomas Christopher Claypole, was murdered by a neighbour, Henry Crane, who was then living in a hovel next to the Claypoles' cottage, all in Blind Lane. Crane, who had long had a reputation as a 'queer' character, had sent Thomas out to buy some 'suckers' (sweets), which Thomas duly purchased from Chamberlain's shop in Church Street. Shortly after he returned with the sweets, Thomas was playing outside and his mother Sarah heard Crane say 'come you along'. She then heard the sound of her son's feet being drawn along the ground and, on running out and opening the door to Crane's house, found her son standing in the room with his throat cut. Sarah carried her boy outside where he died on the ground about three minutes later.

An inquest was held at the Spread Eagle public house where the jury returned a verdict of 'wilful murder against the man, Henry Crane'. Crane was subsequently formally charged with the murder and taken to Northampton County Gaol. However, he never stood trial as, in July that year, he was removed to a Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Broadmoor by order of the Secretary of State where he died on March 21, 1885.

There is some speculation that the murder was a revenge killing for the death of Crane's brother in law, Thomas Sculthorpe, who he alleged had had his beer drugged and subsequently burned to death by falling into an open fire. However, there is no evidence to corroborate this.

For more information on the murder, visit Alan Craxford's website at