This story is a mixture of real-life and local superstition, with a touch of imagination.While researching at Shropshire Archives Fiona (the storyteller) discovered the intriguing story of an 18th century whipper-in of the Broseley Hunt, Tom Moody, who allegedly reappeared to join the hunt as a ghost. More research found fuller and slightly different versions of this life-story, including one in ballad form.
Fiona also found a reference to a 19th century worker on the Apley Estate, Molly Tart, who was extremely superstitious. She decided to work with these two characters and create a story in which Molly sees the ghost of Tom Moody. To add authenticity to her story, Fiona continued to research at the Archives. She found a reference to Molly Tart in the Census records – which gave her the timeframe for the story.
She also found Information about the grounds of the Apley Estate, which she could use for background description. Finally she did some internet research into hunting, especially the role of the Whipper-In, which helped her understand the life Tom Moody would have led.
The video shows Fiona telling the story on a family storywalk in Apley Woods. She chose to tell the tale at the entrance to the woods, where there is a gate depicting a man with a horse and hounds.
This story was brought back to life by young people as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded Young Roots project. They researched in Shropshire Archives and the local history collections to find records of stories they felt should be part of the region’s oral heritage. The project was facilitated by Mythstories museum and supported by Shropshire Archives and Telford & Wrekin Libraries.
- ‘Folklore of Shropshire’, Roy Palmer, p 213-5
- ‘Broseley & Its Surroundings’ by John Randall 1879, reprinted in 2001 with notes by Broseley Local History Society. P 269-274
- ‘Shropshire Folk-Lore’ by Charlotte Burne, p 266
- ‘The County Seats of Shropshire’, F. Leach 1891. (Apley Castle)