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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.
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