Lud's Church

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Lud's Church
Lud's Church 2016-06-05.jpg
Lud's Church in June 2016
Map showing the location of Lud's Church
Map showing the location of Lud's Church
Lud's Church within Staffordshire
Location Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire, England
OS grid SJ987656
Coordinates 53°11′16″N 2°1′14″W / 53.18778°N 2.02056°W / 53.18778; -2.02056Coordinates: 53°11′16″N 2°1′14″W / 53.18778°N 2.02056°W / 53.18778; -2.02056
Topo map OS Outdoor Leisure OL24

Lud's Church (sometimes written as Ludchurch) is a deep chasm penetrating the Millstone Grit bedrock created by a massive landslip on the hillside above Gradbach, Staffordshire, England. It is located in a wood known as Back Forest, in the Dark Peak, towards the southwest fringe of the Peak District National Park about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) west of the A53 between Leek and Buxton. Over 100 metres (328 ft) long and 18 metres (59 ft) deep, all but the upper third of the slope has slipped forward towards the River Dane.[1] It is mossy and overgrown, wet and cool even on the hottest of days.

Geological origins[edit]

Lud's Church is formed within the thick bed of coarse Carboniferous sandstone known as the Roaches Grit which here dips northeastwards into the Goyt Syncline. The rocks of this area are traversed by numerous roughly northwest-to-southeast-oriented faults and fracture planes. In addition, weak layers of mudstone exist within the sequence. It is along such lines of weakness that a large mass of the Roaches Grit bounding the northeast side of the rift has slipped slightly downhill into the Dane Valley resulting in the open rift. The age of the movement is unknown but is likely to be post-glacial.


The area has a place in Christian history: the Lollards, who were followers of John Wycliffe, an early church reformer, are supposed to have used this as a secret place of worship during the early 15th century, when they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.[2] Lud's Church may have been named after Walter de Ludank or Walter de Lud-Auk who was captured here at one of their meetings.[2][3] Alternatively, the name may have come from the Celtic god Llud. [4]A wooden ship's figurehead from the ship Swythamley formerly stood in a high niche above the chasm, placed there by Philip Brocklehurst, then the landowner, around 1862. It was called 'Lady Lud' and was supposed to commemorate the death of the daughter of a Lollard preacher.[3][5]

A number of climbing routes up the sides of the chasm were pioneered during the 20th century but climbing is now discouraged so as to protect the lower plants that have colonised the damp rock-faces.

In legend[edit]

A rock formation inside Lud's Church identified with the Green Knight[4]

Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonny Prince Charlie are all reputed to have hidden from the authorities within the chasm.[6] Ralph Elliott, local Luddites (known to be active in the area during the Luddite protests), and others have identified Lud's Church as the Green Chapel of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.[7][4] The first[citation needed] to claim Lud's Church as the Green Chapel was Ralph Elliott in a 1958 Times newspaper article.[8]


  2. ^ a b BBC Legacies: The Lollards: Dawning star of the Reformation?
  3. ^ a b Peakland Heritage: Lud's Church
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Roly (April 3, 2009). "The green knight's realm". The Guardian. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ 'Leek: Leekfrith', A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume 7: Leek and the Moorlands (1996), pp. 191–202
  6. ^ Bell, David (2005). "1". Staffordshire Tales of Murder & Mystery. Murder & Mystery. Countryside Books. p. 7. ISBN 1-85306-922-1. 
  7. ^ Elliott, R W V (1997). "Landscape and Geography". In Brewer, D; Gibson, J. A Companion to the Gawain-Poet. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 105–117. 
  8. ^ Elliott, R W V (21 May 1958). "Sir Gawain in Staffordshire: A Detective Essay in Literary Geography". The Times. 

External links[edit]