Wednesday, 25 November 2015

"the gates of hell" at Didsbury with more than one tall story

Now I like the story of the Devil’s Gate at Didsbury.

According to the local historian Fletcher Moss it referred to “the remnant of the village green in front of the inns where the cock fighting and bull baiting used to be.  In later days this space was clerically termed ‘the gates of hell’ and therefore to be shunned by the orthodox.”*

And it is easy to attribute the name to the gateway that leads into the Parsonage hard by the Didsbury Hotel to the left, and the Cock Inn to the right.

It would give just that tingle of apprehension to anyone wanting to cross into the gardens at night from the old village green having perhaps had too much in one of the two pubs.

But the gate is a relatively new addition to this bit of Didsbury having been brought here by Fletcher Moss himself.

Nor are the origins of that gate any more sensational for they come from the Spread Eagle Hotel on Corporation Street and were purchased for just £10 when the hotel was demolished in 1902.

Those still wanting a sinister turn to the tale might just ponder on the disappearance of a second eagle which stood in the gardens and vanished one night never to be seen again.

I was told and I have to admit it was late in the night after more than enough to drink in the Old Cock that there was a belief that this eagle had been spirited away as an act of revenge on the part of a long dead publican who roamed the village green and gardens in search of the clergy who had railed against the common pleasures of the people of Didsbury.

It is of course more likely that the lost eagle now adorns a garden somewhere in south Manchester its origin as part of a hotel and later a garden ornament long forgotten.

Still the gate remains a pretty impressive structure which Peter has captured in his painting.

Painting; Eagle Gate, © 2013 Peter Topping, 
Facebook; Paintings from Pictures,

*Fletcher Moss, Souvenir of the Coronation Festivities held at Didsbury June 22 1911

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