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Author explores sinister legend of oak tree ; Writer shoots film based on story of woman's mysterious curse [Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent, England)]

September 19, 2013


A FAMOUS Staffordshire legend has been re-worked for the big screen.

Filming for The Legend of the Chained Oak took place over the weekend, despite a few spooky happenings and a car accident which ruled out the lead actress as she was en-route to the location. For the film, author Dan Weatherer, of Meir Park, dreamed up his own version of the legend of the famous chained oak tree, at Oakamoor.

According to folklore, the Earl of Shrewsbury was cursed by an elderly woman he refused to help. She told him a member of his family would die every time a branch fell from the tree.

After a family member mysteriously died, he ordered the branches of the tree to be chained together in the version of the story which is retold as part of the Alton Towers ride 'Hex'.

But Dan's tale comes up with a more sinister explanation for the chaining of the oak.

The 33-year-old, who took up writing after being made redundant from NPower earlier this year, said: I decided to concentrate on writing and this was the first thing I wrote.

The 'Hex' version of the story was debunked in 2007, when a branch last fell from the tree and no member of the earl's family died. I came up with a more sinister explanation of why the oak was chained.

In Dan's version, he uncovers an 18th century journal which reveals the 'real' story, which tells of dark arts and a girl tethered to the tree accused of witchcraft Dan - who has had eight short stories published since he took redundancy - teamed up with Durham filmmaker Dean Maynard. Dan, married to Jenni, aged 28, and dad to three-year-old Bethany, said: I have been working on it since March, pulling in actors and extras who are all local talent.

We did virtually all the filming over the weekend. We did have a few strange happenings during filming - people seeing strange shadows and hearing things. Then on her way to film her first scenes, the actress who was going to play the lead role was involved in a car accident and one of the crew had to step in as a last minute replacement.

Now we are going to premier it around Staffordshire and take it to film festivals to drum up some backing. Dean, aged 41, said: I couldn't believe we were actually filming. This project has had so many false starts. In the past we had funding taken away and people have pulled out.

Everyone in the village was really supportive.


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