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Tyrone's Bed   Forbidden Love
In 1603 Constance Holt, daughter of Thomas Holt of Gristlehurst went walking one day and fell into the river and was saved by the unknown Earl with whom she fell in love. The Earl of Tyrone, who was defeated in Ulster, was hiding in the Roch valley following his defeat in Ulster. He was later concealed by Constance in a secret hiding place in the hall, and he escaped from those who were searching for him and thus he escaped. The Earl of Tyrone was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth and returned to Constance who had been ill since he left. The sudden shock of his return caused her death in his arms.   Robert Holt nephew of Sir Thomas was the priest at Ashworth and he had fallen in love with Margaret Scolfeld a local woman. As priests couldn't marry they kept it secret. Thomas Holt, his twin brother who had had his living as a parish priest of London taken from him for nonconformity, said that priests could marry under new laws. Margaret rejected the advances made by Miles Plowman as she was loyal to her first love Robert. Robert Holt stopped Miles Plowman when he attempted to kiss Margaret against her will.
Mary Queen of Scots

William Holt (born 1545) second son of Robert Holt (Rochdale / Ashworth) is a famous member of the family. He graduated with a BA at Oxford and became a Master of Arts of Cambridge. Dissatisfied with the Church of England he went to Donay in 1574 where he studied theology and was ordained. Being sent to Rome he entered the society of Jesus in 1578. In 1581 he was employed by the imprisoned Queen of Scots on an embassy to her son King James. William Holt of Ashworth and William Crichton were sent to Scotland to procure conversion or deposition of young James VI and send information to Mary and Philip II of Spain. He was arrested at Leith in 1583 and tortured, Queen Elizabeth hoping to discover information on plots against her. Nothing was obtained from him and he was liberated in 1584 and sent abroad. He continued to work for the Catholic religion and died in Barcelona in 1599.

Robert and Thomas were getting ready to celebrate mass on a Sunday morning and a band of men surrounded the church. They were led by a priest called Warham. Thomas was robed in a chasuble and taking the chalice to the altar so Robert rushed to the door of the church to confront the mob so that his brother would not be slain if he was seen. He said he was willing to conform to gain time but wished to celebrate his last mass. Miles Plowman saw his chance and raised his bow and arrow. Only Margaret saw him and ran forwards and flung her arms round the one she loved most in the world. The arrow passed through her back and entered the heart of the courageous priest. Thomas came out of the church holding the sacred chalice and the silence of shock struck the villagers. Thomas then celebrated mass for the last time. Ashworth chapel is said to be haunted by their ghosts.
Witchcraft Trials

Sir John Holt found himself near Oxford without any money and managed to procure a week's lodgings at a country inn by pretending to charm away a fever from which the landlady's daughter was suffering by binding round her arm a parchment on which he had written a few Greek characters to look like a spell. Years later this parchment was put in as the principal evidence against an old woman for sorcery. Sir John Holt was presiding over the case and he told the jury the story and she was acquitted.

  A Ghostly Tale

A visitor and his wife were staying in Castleton hall one night and were sleeping in a room supposedly haunted. The ghost was said to be that of a young woman who was supposed to have been brutally murdered in one of the chambers. The vicar of Rochdale was called in the morning to perform an exorcism of the spirit because of their experience in the night.

Tuberville's Songs and Sonnets

Ye that frequent the hilles
And highest holtes of all,
Assist me with your skilful quilles
And listen when I call.

Taken from Heywoods of Heywood a poem shows a short picture of Lancashire 270 years ago. The first few lines are

High holte of woods, or haye enclosed with woods,
Or woodie Isle surrownded with fierce floods
Thy antique bounds; from whence so ere thou haue,..

The reference "High holte of woods" is to the name of Heywood near Rochdale in Lancashire and its probable etymology. The ancient spelling is Eywode, which is understood to describe in Saxon words the wood bounded by the water. The site of the modern town of Heywood when the name was given was occupied by a large wood which covered the high bank overlooking the endge of the cliff.
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