As a child, I was always fascinated with the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grim so when I found out about a village near to me in Liverpool that once had a real giant, I had to find out more.
Meet John Middleton the giant from Hale who was 9 feet and 3 inches tall.
Although there is no official proof that this Childe of Hale was that tall, his epitaph reads: –
Here lyeth the bodie of John Middleton the Childe Nine feet three Borne 1578 Dyede 1623
History of the Childe of Hale
Born in the village of Hale, near Liverpool in 1578, John Middleton became known as the Childe of Hale due to his enormous size. He died in 1623 and the words ‘Childe of Hale’ was scribbled next to his name in the Hale Church death register. His grave as pictured above surrounded by iron railings, lies within the grounds of St Mary’s Church.
In 1768, his remains were exhumed by the schoolmaster and Parish clerk, Mr Bushell for measuring. His thigh bone alone stretched from the hip of an averaged sized man to his foot. His remains were re-interred to where they lie today.
He was the bodyguard to the Sheriff of Lancashire, Sir Gilbert Ireland who was also the Lord of the Manor of Hale.
King James I invited him to London where John Middleton won a handsome sum of £20 for wresting the kings champion and beating him. Unfortunately, he was either robbed or swindled out of it on his return and died a poor man.
On his return from London, Sir Gilbert Ireland took the giant to the college he graduated from, Brasenose College to meet the students. It was here that two life sized portraits were painted of the giant. One can be found in nearby Speke Hall and the other hangs in the great hall of Brasenose College.
Myth and Folklore of the Giant of Hale
Story has it that in the cottage he lived in, that still stands today, in order to lie straight when going to sleep at night, he had to hang his feet out of the windows.
Visit Hale Village
Young and old alike love the giant statue of John Middleton and it is impressive. In fact, my granddaughter Holly was quite scared of it at first as she thought that it might come alive.
I love a child’s imagination and it’s something that I always try to keep a hold of. The pure innocence and wonderful thoughts of life that both excite us and scare us are so much stronger the younger we are. Kids will love the story of the giant as you show them his grave, the cottage he resided in and you can finish your trip off in the wonderful local pub, the Childe of Hale, that serves food.
The village of Hale can be found in the county of Cheshire.