NEW book has revealed the bloody truth about the fight between the Royalists and the Roundheads for control of Bolton, including a surprising revelation about the last hours of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby.

Local myth has it that the Earl spent his last few hours drinking in the Man and Scythe, in Churchgate, before being led outside to be beheaded.

But David Casserly, author of Massacre: The Storming of Bolton, says this popular tale is unlikely to be based in fact.

He added: “Not long after the Earl of Derby was executed the stories started to build up about him. Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t the Man and Scythe where he was taken from to be executed — it was more likely to be a nearby house, probably where the Wench and Trinkets is now.”

Mr Casserly’s theory is based on documents from the time which use the word “house” rather than “inn” or “tavern”.

The news came as no surprise to Jaycee Jewitt, who runs the shop and is married to the Man and Scythe’s landlord John, as she says she often feels the Earls’ presence and contacts him through a ouija board.

She said: “He comes through quite a lot and he’s got a wicked sense of humour. He’s not harmful, although he does move the furniture around quite regularly.”

The Earl of Derby’s execution is the subject of an annual street play — performed in Churchgate outside the pub on or near to October 15th. The Earl was executed on October 15, 1651. Mr Jewitt said: “When we first started doing the play I discovered a lot of Bolton’s folklore was wrong and so I’m very pleased David has done all this research and he has also helped us rewrite the play so we have got it right.”

A sign on the front of the pub says that theEarl did spend his last night drinking at the Man and Scythe Mr Casserly’s book tells the story of the Civil War and its impact on Bolton, focusing on the massacre of 1644 in which hundreds of people were killed on both sides.

About 2,000 Parliamentarians had marched into Bolton following an unsuccessful siege of Lathom House, near Ormskirk, the home of the Earl of Derby.

A battle ensued with the Royalists gaining entry to the town via Old Acres — which is now Marks and Spencer — before the fighting moved down Churchgate.

And the economic effects of the massacre could still be felt a decade later when the town was still petitioning Manchester to help them financially.

● Massacre: The Storming of Bolton is available now from Amberley Publishing, priced £14.99 .