Legend resurrected for new novel

Author Elizabeth Ashworth with a copy of her new novel, 'An Honourable Estate', and the booklet which helped to inspire it.
Author Elizabeth Ashworth with a copy of her new novel, 'An Honourable Estate', and the booklet which helped to inspire it.

A LOCAL author has reinvented an ancient legend as the backdrop to her latest historical novel.

Elizabeth Ashworth’s new book, “An Honourable Estate”, is based on the legend of Mab’s Cross at Wigan. It tells the story of Lady Mabel de Haigh and her husband, Sir William Bradshaw.

After William joined the failed Banastre Rebellion in 1315, he was forced to become an outlaw. The lands at Haigh were forfeit to the king for a year and a day and Lady Mabel was left with a difficult decision if she was to protect her inheritance and herself.

Elizabeth, who is the president of the Lancashire Authors’ Association, says that she based the plot of the novel on a booklet she found in the association’s library at Accrington. “New Light on the Mab’s Cross Legend”, by Rev. T.C. Porteus, who was a past president of the LAA, examines the different versions of the legend and compares them with the historical events of 1315 to 1322 when Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, was defeated by Edward II at the Battle of Boroughbridge.

“Porteus suggests that William Bradshaw, or Bradshaigh as he liked to be known, was a Lancashire Robin Hood – hiding out in the forest in fear for his life, and maybe doing good deeds,” said Elizabeth. “And an old inquest into the ownership of Haigh records that although the lands were confiscated by the king because of William’s alleged treason, Lady Mabel ‘intruded’. In other words she refused to leave the estates that had passed to her from her father, Hugh le Norreys. It seems she was a determined and feisty lady in real life as well as in my novel.”

An Honourable Estate is available as an ebook and as a paperback and can be ordered online via Amazon. The novel also has its own Facebook page and a book trailer on YouTube. For more information you can visit: www.elizabethashworth.com

Elizabeth Ashworth’s first novel, “The de Lacy Inheritance”, was also based on an old Lancashire legend – that of a hermit who lived in a cave beneath Clitheroe Castle. It has proved very popular with local readers and Elizabeth hopes they will enjoy her new novel just as much.