Hale is famous for it`s quiet nature, cottages and countryside, but most of all for it`s most famous inhabitant who lived here more than 300 years ago. His name is John Middleton and was born in Hale in 1578, but is more commonly known as "The Childe Of Hale"! Even before he was 20 years of age, his height reached a staggering 9 foot 3 inches.
The Childe`s cottage still stands today, with it`s white washed walls and
sloping thatched roof which has recently been re-thatched due to years of
In the gable end which faces onto Church End/Church Road, you can see
two windows high up, these windows have legend about them that when
the childe slept, he had to have each foot hanging out each window in order
to lie the full length of the cottage asleep.
Little is known about his childhood, but there are many legends about him.
One of these legends is still the talk of the village. One day by Hale Lighthouse
he sketched out on the sand an outline of a giant man bigger than himself.
He then lay down within the lines of the sketch and went to sleep, wishing that
when he woke up he would be the same dimensions of the giant sketch.
Once he awoke he found himself to be of the same size of the giant drawing
he had sketched out in the sand.
John Middleton died on August 23rd 1623, as entered into the Hale Church death
register. His name is given and "Childe Of Hale" is written along side in pencil.
His grave lies on the south side of St Mary`s church surrounded by iron railings.
A close up of the Childe Of Hale's grave reveals the inscription:
Here lyeth the bodie of John Middleton the Childe Nine feet three Borne 1578 Dyede 1623.
In 1768 John Middletons remains were removed from his tomb/grave by the schoolmaster and
Parish clerk, Mr Bushell. They were then taken to Hale Hall for preservation and were measured.
It was during this that it was discovered that his thigh bones each stretched from the hip of an
average sized man to his foot. His hands were also measured and found to be 17 inches from the
carpus to the end of the middle finger and 8 and a half inches across the palm. Later his remains
were re-interred into St Mary`s churchyard where they are now today!
Brasenose College at Oxford has a portrait of Middleton in this dress and the painted outline of his hand.
He has long been the mascot for the Brasenose College Boat Club
The club’s colours are black and gold, with black blades. The 1st VIII, however, may wear the distinctive
‘Childe of Hale,’ colours – red, purple and yellow, which are synonymous with Brasenose rowing.
Hanging - encased in the college, is a picture of the Childe of
Hale's Hand, next to a normal sized hand for comparison.
Click to enlarge
Copyright © 2008/2012 - Anders Sandberg
John Middleton’s association with the college originated when he
was returning from a wrestling bout at Court in around 1617.
His mentor, Sir Gilbert Ireland, Lord of the Manor of Hale, who
graduated at the college and was a senior member there, took
the giant to meet the students at Brasenose. It was there that
two life-sized portraits were painted.
One can be seen in Speke Hall while the other hangs in the college. When the boat club was formally established in 1815, Middleton’s story and tradition was used as an inspiration.
Displayed inside St Mary’s church is an oar donated by Brasenose College.If you ever visit Speke Hall, be sure to have a look at the giant portrait of John Middleton that hangs in the great hall too.
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