A Visit to the Church of the Lollards

by David Jenkins

Just after the snow was going, in late February 1991, my wife and I were asked by our friends if we had been to see Ludchurch, we said no, and so they invited us to go with them the following Saturday.  We all arranged to meet near Wincle, (a small village in North Staffordshire) and then proceeded to the church.  (The church can be found on Ordnance Survey Map ‘Landranger 118’)

We parked our cars in a nearby car park and started our walk, which took us past the river Dane, and then began a steep climb upwards higher and higher; we realised that this would be no ordinary church.  A sign pointed to Ludchurch and we found our way along a narrow pathway among the trees at the top of the hill.  On arrival at the entrance we found a naturally formed cavern with steep steps leading down to the bottom, with damp and slippery stones at its base.

Once down, we all decided to explore the area.  I dowsed for any energy ley lines but ‘no luck’ so I tried dowsing to see if I could pick up the pathway used by the Lollards  (spiritual people who had used it for worship). I tried along the centre pathway that is made up of large stones and loose rocks, but I could not get a reaction on my L Rods or Twig.  I tried along one side of the cavern, but still no reaction.  At my last attempt, I tried along the very steep side of the cavern; this time I had a reaction.

I felt that I would like to try and find the path into the church that the Lollards had trod.  I tracked it to the end that we had walked down: I also felt that at one time this end was closed off.  I next tried to find the most spiritual or holy place of the church/cavern, this turned out to be (for me) an area that had been formed by nature to one side of the cavern which was an elevated mound cut into the side of the cavern.

Our friend, Elizabeth, said: –

“Let us see what we can receive by meditating on the church” so we meditated for a short time.

Elizabeth said she had seen a figure tall and hooded.  I myself had seen a tall elderly man standing on the mound in a white robe with long white shoulder length hair and a very high brow; I felt he was some kind of preacher.  I should point out at this time that we did not know the story of the Lollards or the church.

For some unknown reason, before leaving home, I felt I should take with us my sons small tape recorder with a tape of the earth sound on it; this I placed on the mound and played whilst we were there.

Some weeks had passed before we met our friends again; Elizabeth had drawn a picture of the hooded man she had seen on that day. She has since found a book called “The Illustrated Holiday Guide to the North Staffordshire Railway”, dated 1891, by George Moore.  In the guide it tells the story of Sir De Lacy’s tale of Ludchurch and describes the following: –

Followers of wicklif or the ‘Lollards’:

“It was a fine summer afternoon when the Lollards assembled to perform divine service in the natural cavern of Ludchurch.  Upon an elevated mound in the upper part of the church stood the good old minister.  Walter De Lud-auk was about seventy years of age; his hair was bleached like the hoary top of Snowdon yet his form was erect; and what was still more strange, his broad massive brow was unclouded with a single wrinkle.”

This describes him as I had seen him.  The hooded man that Elizabeth had seen was also mentioned in the story:-

“Montair was of gigantic stature and strength; his features were cast in that striking style called the “Roman” – large dark full eyes keen as the falcons; the aquiline nose, and curved and haughty mouth.  The expression of his features were rendered still more striking by his bronzed complexion and curling black beard.”

This had described the picture that Elizabeth had drawn exactly.

In the story it is mentioned that:-

“The place was extremely narrow with damp walls rising to a considerable height.  The top was so overgrown with heath that little light could penetrate”.

This I think accounts for only the people energy lines being found by the steep side of the cavern.  The steep side seems to have survived the weather over the years better than the opposite side, the heath no longer grows over the cavern any more.

Due to the sadness of the story, the Lollards passed out of the cavern and out of history.  The playing of the tape, I felt, was to help us heal the church as I believe that many will now come to visit and gain spiritual energy from this church.