The Swan, the Dog, and the Crusader, Worcestershire
There is a lovely legend associated with the village of Wolverley, only a couple of miles north of Kidderminster , which has several of the more romantic elements of medieval storytelling about it.
The story goes that Sir John Attwood (whose family had once been the De Bois, but who had anglicized their name) left his wife to go on Crusade. The campaign went ill for him, as for so many others, however, and he spent years as a captive in a Saracen dungeon. With no news of her husband for year upon year the lovely Lady Attwood, with the family home Wolverley Court making her even more attractive as a match, was about to remarry.
On the very morning of her wedding the dairy maid from the great house was walking in a meadow nearby when she saw a sleeping man, his hair matted and beard unkempt, his clothes in tatters and his feet fettered. The family dog with her rushed to his side and bounded around him in seeming delight as if it recognized the fellow. The girl rushed to the house to report the stranger. Lady Attwood arrived, and the now awoken figure claimed to be the long lost Sir John, proving his identity with his half of a ring the couple had split as a token of their love, this section fitting the one kept by Lady Attwood perfectly.
All very touching, but his explanation was the stuff of miracles: in his prison Sir John had prayed to the Virgin Mary for help, and that night he was transported in a trance from the Holy Lands to Wolverley (by some accounts knocking a stone off the top of St John the Baptist’s Church as he flew just over it). In one version of the tale Sir John out of modest piety denied it was Mary who brought him, saying a swan carried him, and thus the Attwood crest bears a swan and a dog in memory of this legend. The meadow where he was found at one time provided a rent that was paid to the person who kept the fetters, stored in the church, clean and polished. A set of fetters is kept at Wolverley Court, but some dispute their authenticity, believing them of more modern design
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