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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Black Knight

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"K" is for "Knight" and today's photo shows the sculpture of The Black Knight situated under the atrium in Tameside Council offices public reception area.

The statue commemorates Ashton's most celebrated legend, that of The Black Knight, thought to be based on the character of Sir Ralph de Assheton, who for a time resided at Ashton Old Hall in the fifteenth century. He was said to have been a cruel tyrant and the local inhabitants feared the sight of him riding around the area, on his black horse, looking for hapless peasants to persecute.

It is said that he was shot dead one Easter Monday by a relative. His death was celebrated by the relieved townsfolk with a custom called Riding the Black Lad, where his effigy was paraded around the town on horseback, had lumps of earth thrown at it and then possibly burnt.

The custom went through various changes over the years and by the 20th century took the form of a procession through the town led by The Black Knight riding on horseback. Read more about this custom here.

When the Arcades shopping mall opened, a sculpture of The Black Knight was commissioned and placed in the central of the mall. Typically of Ashton folk, many were scornful of the sculpture for being brown rather than black! When the Arcades had a refurbishment the sculpture was put into storage and mysteriously disappeared.

It was subsequently found and the council offered to provide a home for it. It has been given a much blacker colouring than before and now sits in pride of place in the main concourse of the council offices.

"The Black Knight" is a contribution to ABC Wednesday. For more "K" posts from around the world please follow this link.


  1. I love these posts about something in history and particularly in a different history than that of my country. This was fascinating and love your photo! Great post for the K day! Enjoy your week!


  2. I remember it in the Arcades - had heard about it disappearing but didn't know it had ended up in the council offices - it somehow seems an appropriate place for it but I'd maybe best not elaborate.

  3. What an awesome, huge horse sculpture! Is there a sign which reads, "Please do not climb on the horse"?

  4. What,s this obsession with councils up and down the country with pointless statues.the only statue the country ever wanted was of lady Diana,but off-course this was never going to happen.

  5. Sorry, Sooty. I have to take you up on that! I know that a lot of councils (Tameside included) are a bit obsessed with sculptures but, having photographed all of the ones in Ashton, I don't think they are completely pointless.

    However, the sculpture of the Black Knight is in a different category. For a start it was not commissioned by the council. More importantly it depicts a notable character from Ashton's folklore and history.

    It's a shame it is not larger and outside in a public place where more people can see it.

  6. Wow! Interesting tale! All sorts of images come to mind with The Black Knight name.

  7. Great little slice of history there, and I actually rather like the statue - it has life!

  8. Thank you for sharing this incredible story! I love knights figure, but this one I definitely dislike,after reading abouthim!

    Kisses from Nydia.

  9. A statue of a villain! How intriguing!
    There was a heroic BK in comic books,
    On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!

  10. Before I read the post, I thought how odd the rider looked, and now I realise why! I'm glad he didn't disappear for ever.

  11. He's my 17th great grandfather. I found out last night

    1. Hi Alanis! This is so interesting my sister and I just found out that he is our 17th great grandfather as well!! So I guess we are related somehow?!

  12. This Ralph de Assheton the Black Knight is my 15th great Grandad


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