Lancashire used to be full of giants, it seems. We're all so much shorter now. Maybe we cower. But giants used to walk amongst us. Here are the stories of two of them.
Have you heard the story of Westminster Meg? She was a tall lass. Some say her father made her leave his house because she gave him the creeps. I think that may be idle talk. Whatever. She found herself leaving her home in Broughton and travelling all the way to London. That was a brave thing for a Lancashire Lass to do, especially back then - for this was in the reign of Henry VIII.
But she got to London in the end. Folks were inclined to think she was simple as well as tall. The Carriageman tried to charge her a shilling too much for his services. He soon regretted it. Meg beat him up. She showed him no mercy. And therein lay the germ of an idea. Knowing she could look after herself, Meg joined the army. She did pretty well, too. So well that there was even a proverb coined about her:
Nothing's as long as Meg of Westminster!
Even Ben Jonson wrote a ballad about our Meg.
With her long leg,
As long as a crane,
And feet like a plane,
With a pair of heels,
As broad as two wheels.
Then there was Richard Formby. He lived in Formby. Things were much simpler then. He was said to be a giant too. His great stature made him the natural choice to be armour-bearer to the Kings of Lancaster. When poor Richard died, he was buried with great ceremony in York Minster (oh! The irony!)
Richard Formby would have been forgotten, of course, if it weren't for a lunatic called Jonathan Martin. Jonathan held a grudge against the Archbishop of York because he wasn't allowed to sing in the Minster choir. So, in 1829, he set the choir stalls alight. And a burning beam fell and cracked the tombstone of Richard Formby in two. They took out his bones and measured them. He was seven foot tall. Truly a giant.
These are only two Lancashire giants. I've said nothing about Fred Kempster, Alder and Aphin, John Middleton or Sir Tarquin of Manchester. For certain, Lancashire was at one time full of giants.