Shropshire Robin Hood-A-Likes

A couple of Robin-Hood-a-likes(ish) from Shropshire:
"Wild" Humphrey Kynaston (C15th) and "Ippikin".

Both outlaws, both with hide-outs in caves and the former certainly real but as always, the tall tales are so much more fun.

Plus there's a bit about the real deal,
Lud's Church and Sir Gawain at the end.

Originally posted on Twitter on the Thursday 30th May 2019.
Images via @britishlibrary's Flickr collection.

A rocky passage leading to a hidden cave.

"Wild" Humphrey Kynaston.

Humphrey Kynaston, youngest son to the then High Sheriff Of Shropshire, was convicted of murder in 1491 and went into hiding in "Kynaston's Cave" near Nesscliffe.

Engraved in the cave is "HK 1564" but that was probably not left by Humph himself; he died in 1534. Though this being #FolkloreThursday, you never know.

Kynaston became renown in the area for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, earning him the protection of the locals. He also had a reputation for selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his great riding prowess.

His horse was called Beelzebub, which may have had something to do with it. Reputedly, Beelzebub was shod with backwards shoes to cover their tracks.

Kynaston was never hung for his crimes and may have been pardoned by Hal Seven or Eight.

Stories of his daring may have been slightly exaggerated:

- He jumped Beelzebub from Nesscliff Hill to Ellesmere in one bound. It's about twelve miles.
- Lured by the promise of free ale in the castle yard, he quaffed the booze while the guards locked up and then jumped the gate, guards and all, to ride free once more.

A man jumps a castle wall to escape the guards within.


In contrast to Kynaston, the outlaw known as Ippikin just plain stole (giving to the poor being an optional extra) but he did have a band of men and they may have been merry.

They lived and stored their ill-gotten gains in a cave in Wenlock Edge. The entrance collapsed trapping them inside. If you stand on the edge of the cliff and taunt him*, Ippikin will appear and push you to your death.

* The taunting must consist of singing, "Ippikin, Ippikin, keep away with your long chin!", in case you want to test him out.

An open chest full of treasures.

Lud's Church.

Meanwhile over the border: the "real" Robin Hood and Friar Tuck are said to have holed up in Lud's Church, aka Ludchurch, a deep ravine near Buxton in Staffordshire.

A dancing Friar Tuck with Robin aiming his bow beyond.

Walter de Lud-Auk was a Lollard (followers of John Wycliffe who lead the call for an English language Bible) and hence of much interest to the authorities of the day. He attended and perhaps conducted clandestine services in the ravine.

It is said that his daughter Alice was fatally wounded on the day that Lud-Auk himself was captured and the soldiers allowed the sect to hold a funeral service before dragging them all off.

As a bonus:

  • It may also have been "The Green Chapel" in the medieval poem Sir Gawain And The Green Knight.
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have hidden there (where didn't he?)
  • The area even has a few ghosts; a headless figure and poor Alice herself.

Busy place.

The knight faces his foe.