Wednesday, 1 July 2020


Details from freelance journalist 
Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 

Press release - 1 July 2020 

Some campaigners will this weekend REMEMBER ELLEN STRANGE and domestic violence victims by gathering at the world’s oldest domestic violence commemoration site 

A small number of people will this Sunday gather on Holcombe Moor, Ramsbottom at the world’s oldest domestic violence commemoration site where Ellen Strange was murdered by her husband in January 1761.

Staying safe during COVID-19 has meant the annual Ellen Strange Memorial Day (ESMD) walk, which last year attracted 75 people of all ages, on the first Sunday in July has been cancelled. 

But as the walk not only remembers Ellen Strange but also includes the reading out of the names of all Domestic Violence victims in the previous year then the organisers want to maintain this tradition that began in 2015. In 2020 the names of 123 victims will be read out; 117 are women and six men. Thousands of others suffer emotional and physical brutality. 

The lockdown during COVID19 has also led, according to Linda Charnock of the Bolton based Endeavour Project, which provides support to keep people and their pets safe from domestic abuse and which is one of the ESMD organisers, reporting “a significant rise in the numbers of people needing help. Many people have been trapped at home with their abuser.” 

Internationally, the UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic” alongside COVID-19.

As in previous years a wreath will be laid to remember Ellen Strange and all domestic violence victims and there will be a small number of speeches. A minutes silence will be observed before the organisers make the 45 minute walk back down off the moor. 

Martin McMulkin, a Bolton Councillor and Unite the union activist, said “it is disappointing that so few of us can make it on to the Moor but it is still important to remember Ellen and the domestic violence victims of last year.” 

The organisers are now looking to host a local public meeting, hopefully at the Emmanuel Holcombe Church, close to 25 November - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

At this event the soon to be released 10 minute professional documentary film on why Ellen Strange’s story from over 250 years is still relevant today will be shown.

To find out more about Ellen Strange (*) then download the booklet on her by local historian John Simpson at:-

For further details contact Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 or Martin McMulkin on 07918 839327.

* Ellen Strange was murdered by her husband, John Broadley, on Holcombe Moor on 26 January 1761. When Ellen’s strangled and badly disfigured body was discovered her husband was arrested and indicted for her murder. At his trial a number of witnesses were called but as it was not the practice to write down such evidence we don’t know what they said. What we can be sure of is that their evidence was insufficient to convict Broadley. Forensic evidence had not yet been identified and the charged man pleaded not guilty. Almost certainly there were no eye witnesses to the attack.

Afterwards Ellen’s family and/or local people raised a pile of stones in her memory. This was called “Ellen Strange” on the first Ordnance Survey map in 1844-47. However, over time the true story became clouded in mystery until, in 1989, local author John Simpson published the results of his exhaustive research into events on the desolate moor over 200 years earlier.

The Unite Education Rebel Road project catalogues trade union and labour movement heroes who are publicly commemorated in the form of a plaque. When Bolton Trades Union Council were informed about the Ellen Strange story they obtained the backing of the Unite NW regional committee. £2000 was raised to republish Simpson’s book.

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