Lud’s Church is a green, damp, mossy chasm created by a massive landslip on the hillside above Gradbach in Staffordshire.
It is off the beaten track but can be reached several ways but none could be classed as easy strolls.
Lud’s Church is not a cave – the OS map shows it as ‘Lud’s Church (Cave)’ – but from WikiPedia –
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.
It is known through both myth and history.
There is a mythical association with ‘The Greene Chapel’ in the anonymous fourteenth century poem ‘Sir Galwain and the Green Knight’ which tells of Sir Galwains quest to find the monstrous green knight at his remote home in the forest only having the words ‘Greene /chapel’ as a clue. Unfortunately when Sir Galwain arrives it is not what he expected from the name as the poem describes a grassy, green burial mound.
Other well known characters associated with Lud’s Church are Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonnie Prince Charlie. However they managed to visit all of the places they are associated with is anyone’s guess.
It is documented that the place was used as a place of worship by 15th century non-conformists, the Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe an early church reformer. At one of their meetings Walter de Ludbank was taken hostage and this is where the name ‘Lud’ could have been derived from.
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.
Alternatively, the name may have come from the Celtic god Llud.