The Broadstone; now located at Two Gates Ragged School in Cradley has a long and fascinating history. It has acted as both a boundry marker for the town and has legends about its ability to grant local peoples wishes.
History of The Broadstone
The Broadstone or 'Broodstoon' in local dialect was for hundreds of years the main boundry marker between Cradley, Wollescote and Lutley. It was originally located at Foxcote Lane. The Stone itself was formed during the Carboniferous Period 280 million years ago and weighs around 120 Stone.
The Pikes was the name originally given to where the boundary divided Cradley, Lutley and Wollescote in Foxcote Lane. The Pikes is an old English word for a boundry defining landmark either natural such as a river or physical such as a building or rock. This boundary was originally marked by four Ash trees, which at some point prior to 1610 were replaced by The Broadstone as the marker.
A Map dated 1610 shows the stone as the Boundry marker and it fulfilled this purpose for around four hundred years. However over time during the 20th century the Stone began to be covered by '6 inches of road metal' (1) . On the 25th August 1967 the stone was moved by residents of Two Gates from its original location to the side of Two Gates Ragged School where it remains to the present day.
A local legend and custom is the practice of spitting on the stone to make a wish. This was done by many Cradley people for several hundred years and only died out as common practice when the stone became hidden by the road during the 20th century.
This unusual custom appears to stem from an even earlier practice of the local farmers going to the stone during droughts and spitting on the stone to wish for rain.
You can still visit the Broadstone yourself and make a wish if you want to test out this fascinating local custom.
Stephen Cox 2022
(1) Cradley a History by Barry Willetts