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Monday, 31 May 2010

Reffrence for Bray 1838

TRADITIONS, LEGENDS, SUPERSTITIONS, AND SKETCHES OF DEVONSHIRE
ON THE BORDERS OF THE TAMAR AND THE TAVY,
ILLUSTRATIVE OF ITS MANNERS, CUSTOMS, HISTORY,
ANTIQUITIES, SCENERY, AND NATURAL HISTORY, IN A SERIES OF LETTERS TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ.
BY MRS. BRAY

1838

IN THREE VOLUMES.— VOL. I. LONDON : JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
[provided by Google Books - who say that no comercial use may be made of the text]

Moretonhampstead, its mythical origins

'For tradition says, that it was so denominated from the circumstance of persons returning after Exeter market being oftentimes compelled to pass the night in a few wretched hovels, on the spot where the town now stands, in leu of  home; these hovels having originally been colonized by certain vagabonds and thieves who broke out of Exeter gaol in days of old.'

Bray 1838

St. Margery Daw and the Piskies

'WE have no reliable information of the birth, parentage, or education of Margery Daw, but we have a nursery rhyme which clearly indicates that she must have been a sloven--perhaps an ancient picture of a literary lady, who was by her sad habit reduced to extreme necessity.


See saw, Margery Daw,

clearly indicates a lazy woman rocking herself either in deep thought, or for want of thought.

Sold her bed and lay on the straw;

this was stage the first of her degradation. 

She sold her straw and lay in the smut,

the second and final stage, which may well induce the poet to inquire--

Was not she a dirty slut?

Another version of Margery's story is more distinct as to her

See saw,
Margery Daw,
Sold her bed
And lay on the straw;
She sold her straw,
And lay upon hay,
So piskies came
And carried her away.

A friend, in writing to me on this dirty Cornish saint, is disposed to regard St Margery Daw as a very devout Roman Catholic, and to refer the version of her story which I have given first to the strong feeling shown by many Protestants against those pious women who rejected the finery of the world, and submitted for the sake of their souls to those privations which formed at one time the severe rule of conventual life. Margery and the fairies are supposed to have left England together at the time of the Reformation, but she has left her name to several Cornish mines.

The Fairy Fair of Germoe

'BAL LANE in Germoe was a notorious place for piskies. One night Daniel Champion and his comrade came to Godolphin Bridge,--they were a little bit "overtook" with liquor. They said that when they came to "Bal Lane," they found it covered all over from end to end, and the Small People holding a fair there with all sorts of merchandise--the prettiest sight they ever met with. Champion was sure he saw his child there; for a few nights before, his child in the evening was as beautiful a one as could be seen anywhere, but in the morning was changed for one as ugly and wizened as could be; and he was sure the Small People had done it. Next day, telling the story at Croft Gothal, his comrade was knocked backward, thrown into the bob-pit, and just killed. Obliged to be carried to his home, Champion followed, and was telling of their adventure with the Small People, when one said, "Don't speak about them; they 're wicked, spiteful devils." No sooner were the words uttered than the speaker was thrown clean over stairs and bruised dreadfully,--a convincing proof to all present of the reality of the existence of the Small Folks.'

Hunt 1903

Dartmoor Pixie

'The appearance of the pixies of Dartmoor is said to resemble that of a bale or bundle of rags. In this shape they decoy children to their unreal pleasure. A woman, on the northern borders of the moor, was returning home late on a dark evening, accompanied by two children, and carrying a third in her arms, when, on arriving at her own door, she found one missing. Her neighbours, with lanthorns, immediately set out in quest of the lost child; whom they found sitting under a large oak-tree, well known to be a favourite haunt of the pixies. He declared that he had been led away by two large bundles of rags, which had remained with him until the lights appeared, when they immediately vanished.

The pixies of Dartmoor, notwithstanding their darker character, aided occasionally in household work. A washer-woman was one morning greatly surprised, on coming down-stairs, to find all her clothes neatly washed and folded. She watched the next evening, and observed a pixie in the act of performing this kind office for her: but she was ragged and mean in appearance, and Betty's gratitude was sufficiently great to- induce her to prepare a yellow petticoat and a red cap for the obliging pixie.'

Hunt 1903

Piskies and music

'Like the rest of the "good people," piskies are fond of music, and the sound of their "harp and pipe and symphony," is occasionally heard at nightfall. It is said that a man once passing one of the piskie rings, and hearing them dancing and singing within it, threw a large stone into the midst of the circle, when the music at once ceased and a dreadful shriek arose.'

Hunt 1903

Piskies of Costellas

'THERE is a celebrated piskie haunt at Costellas in Cornwall (says Mrs Bray), where they have been seen sitting in a ring--the men smoking after the most approved fashion of the Dutch burgomaster, and the women spinning, perhaps in emulation of the frugal vrow. I never heard of this place.'

Hunt 1903

The Piskies Changeling

'THIS story is told by Mr T. Q. Couch, as an example of the folk-lore of a Cornish village, in "Notes and Queries," under the name of" Coleman Gray: "--

"There is a farmhouse of some antiquity with which my family have a close connection; and it is this circumstance, more than any other, that has rendered this tradition concerning it more interesting to us, and better remembered than many other equally romantic and authentic. Close to this house, one day, a little miserable-looking banding was discovered alone, unknown, and incapable of making its wants understood. It was instantly remembered by the finder, that this was the way in which the piskies were accustomed to deal with those infants of their race for whom they sought human protection; and it would have been an awful circumstance if such a one were not received by the individual so visited. The anger of the piskies would be certain, and some direful calamity must be the result; whereas, a kind welcome would probably be attended with great good fortune. The miserable plight of this stranger, therefore, attracted attention and sympathy. The little unconscious one was admitted as one of the family. Its health was speedily restored, and its renewed strength, activity, intelligence, and good-humour, caused it to become a general favourite. It is true the stranger was often found to indulge in odd freaks; but this was accounted for by a recollection of its pedigree, which was not doubted to be of the piskie order. So the family prospered, and had banished the thought that the foundling would ever leave them. There was to the front door of this house, a hatch, which is a half-door, that is kept closed when the whole door behind it is open, and it then serves as a guard against the intrusion of dogs, hogs, and ducks, while air and light are freely admitted. This little being was one day leaning over the top of this hatch, and looking wistfully outward, when a clear voice was heard to proceed from a neighbouring part of the townplace, calling, 'Coleman Gray, Coleman Gray!' The piskie immediately started up, and with a sudden laugh, clapped its hands, exclaiming, 'Aha! my daddy is come!' It was gone in a moment, never to be seen again."'

Hunt 1903

The Spriggan's Child - second lot of tags

I'LL tell you a tale, an you've patience to hear an,
'Bout the Spriggans, that swarm round Partinney still--
You knew Janey Tregeer, who lives in Brea Vean,

In the village just under the Chapel Hill.
One arternoon she went out for to reap,
And left the child in the cradle asleep:
Janey took good care to cover the fire;--
Turn'd down the brandis on the baking.ire (iron),
Swept up the ashes on the hearthstone,
And so left the child in the house all alone--
The boys had all on 'em gone away,
Some to work and some to play.
Janey work'd in the field as gay as a lark,
And when she came home it was nearly dark;
The furst thing she saw when she open'd the door
Was the cradle upset--all the straw on the floor.

But no child in sight--
She search'd all round --
Still no child was found:
And it got dark night.
So great was Jane's fright,
That for more than an hour
She hadn't the power
To strike a light.

However, she kindled the fire at last,
And threw in a faggot to make a blast.
As she stoop'd over the wood.corner stone,
She heard a sound 'tween a cry and a moan --
It clearly came from a bundle of ferns--
The two bigger boy's bed--
And there, sure enough, as frighten'd she turns,
Janey saw the child's head.

'Twas very queer. How the child got there,
Nobody could say;Yet ever since that day, the
And blinking and peeping, when it ought to be sleeping,
But seldom it closed its eyes.
Jane said for a child it look'd too wise --
That, she thought it a changeling
She didn't disguise--
And often and often the gave it a beating,
To stop--but she couldn't--its cussed bleating.

Janey resolved to work the spell,
And whene'er she could stay,
She bath'd the brat in the Chapel Well --
Which he thought rare play.

On the three first Wednesdays in flow'ry May
She plunged it deep at the dawn of day--
Pass'd it slowly three times against the sun,
Went three times round,--and when all was clone,
The imp of a child roar'd aloud for fun.
No tongue can tell
The trouble it gave her
To dip the shaver,
And work the spell.

From Brea to Chapel-Uny is a mile or more,
And surely it tried Janey's patience sore
To trudge forth and back from the Chapel Well,
With this brat on her back, to work the spell.

She wish'd it dead; but it wouldn't die:
It ate its bread, it would pine and cry;
And Janey was nearly beside herself
With this plague of her life--this wicked elf.

Well, one rainy day,--as it rains in May,--
Janey set out with the child in her arms
Once more to work the holy charms.
When very close to the top of the hill,
Where she was sure there was nobody near,
She heard the strangest voice in her ear,
Saying these words, quite clear and shrill --
"Tredrill Tredrill! thy wife and children greet thee well."

Oh, Janey's heart-strings were like to crack,
When up spake the thing in her arms, good lack!--
" For wife or child little care I,
They may laugh,
Or they may cry,--
While milk I quaff;
When I am dry--
Get of my pap my fill
Whenever I will,
On the dowdy's back ride,
With my legs astride,
When we work the spell
At the Chapel Well"

Janey dropp'd the cussed thing on the ground,
And turn'd round, and round, and round;
You may be sure she was in a fright
To hear the sound, and nobody in sight,
And to hear a child talkMonths before it could walk.
She has said o'er and -o'er,
And I am sure you can't wonder,
'Twouldn't frighten her more,
Had the rocks burst asunder,
And the earth belch'd forth thunder,

When Janey at length got over the fright
From hearing the sound and nobody in sight,
And the brat which lay crying, as if it was dying,
Talking out like a man of his wife and his child,
She felt all bedazzled as if she was wild--
Took the brat by the arm, flung it over her shoulder--
Wouldn't believe it her child if the parson had told her--
Thought the devil was in it,
As she ran the hill down,
Without -stopping a minute
Till she came to Brea -town.

The old women came out, and all on 'em agreed
'Twas the strangest thing that ever they seed;
They stood in a row, and each one had a word --
'Twas the wonderfull'st story that ever they heard;
'Twas a Spriggan's brat--they were all sure of that--
No more like Jane's child than an old ram-cat.
She must beat it black, she must beat it blue,
Bruise its body all o'er with the heel of her shoe--
Then lay it alone beneath the church stile,
And keep out of hearing and sight for a while--
When every one said, as every one thought,
That Janey's child would again be brought:
Some said 'twould be living--some said 'twould be dead -
But the Spriggan's base brat she no longer need dread.

Jane beat the babe black,
And she beat the babe blue,
On the ashes' pile before the door;
And she would have beaten it ten times more,
But out of her hand she lost her shoe,
Struck away all at once - by she couldn't tell who.

The brat bad roar'd--it could roar no more--
So they carried it off to the old church stile,
And laid it under the stones--some swore
That when placed on the earth it was seen to smile --
Then all turn'd back, and kept far out of sight
And Janey declared she was almost wild:
But they kept her back till the turn o' the night,
When she rush'd to the stile and found her own child

'Twas there, sure enough, her own dear child
But when first she saw it,
She did not know it-- It look'd so frighten'd--it seem'd so wild.

Then the old women said,
If it keeps its wits,
We're sadly afraid
The poor babe will have fits'

Hunt 1903

The Spriggan's Child

I'LL tell you a tale, an you've patience to hear an,
'Bout the Spriggans, that swarm round Partinney still--
You knew Janey Tregeer, who lives in Brea Vean,

In the village just under the Chapel Hill.
One arternoon she went out for to reap,
And left the child in the cradle asleep:
Janey took good care to cover the fire;--
Turn'd down the brandis on the baking.ire (iron),
Swept up the ashes on the hearthstone,
And so left the child in the house all alone--
The boys had all on 'em gone away,
Some to work and some to play.
Janey work'd in the field as gay as a lark,
And when she came home it was nearly dark;
The furst thing she saw when she open'd the door
Was the cradle upset--all the straw on the floor.

But no child in sight--
She search'd all round --
Still no child was found:
And it got dark night.
So great was Jane's fright,
That for more than an hour
She hadn't the power
To strike a light.

However, she kindled the fire at last,
And threw in a faggot to make a blast.
As she stoop'd over the wood.corner stone,
She heard a sound 'tween a cry and a moan --
It clearly came from a bundle of ferns--
The two bigger boy's bed--
And there, sure enough, as frighten'd she turns,
Janey saw the child's head.

'Twas very queer. How the child got there,
Nobody could say;Yet ever since that day, the
And blinking and peeping, when it ought to be sleeping,
But seldom it closed its eyes.
Jane said for a child it look'd too wise --
That, she thought it a changeling
She didn't disguise--
And often and often the gave it a beating,
To stop--but she couldn't--its cussed bleating.

Janey resolved to work the spell,
And whene'er she could stay,
She bath'd the brat in the Chapel Well --
Which he thought rare play.

On the three first Wednesdays in flow'ry May
She plunged it deep at the dawn of day--
Pass'd it slowly three times against the sun,
Went three times round,--and when all was clone,
The imp of a child roar'd aloud for fun.
No tongue can tell
The trouble it gave her
To dip the shaver,
And work the spell.

From Brea to Chapel-Uny is a mile or more,
And surely it tried Janey's patience sore
To trudge forth and back from the Chapel Well,
With this brat on her back, to work the spell.

She wish'd it dead; but it wouldn't die:
It ate its bread, it would pine and cry;
And Janey was nearly beside herself
With this plague of her life--this wicked elf.

Well, one rainy day,--as it rains in May,--
Janey set out with the child in her arms
Once more to work the holy charms.
When very close to the top of the hill,
Where she was sure there was nobody near,
She heard the strangest voice in her ear,
Saying these words, quite clear and shrill --
"Tredrill Tredrill! thy wife and children greet thee well."

Oh, Janey's heart-strings were like to crack,
When up spake the thing in her arms, good lack!--
" For wife or child little care I,
They may laugh,
Or they may cry,--
While milk I quaff;
When I am dry--
Get of my pap my fill
Whenever I will,
On the dowdy's back ride,
With my legs astride,
When we work the spell
At the Chapel Well"

Janey dropp'd the cussed thing on the ground,
And turn'd round, and round, and round;
You may be sure she was in a fright
To hear the sound, and nobody in sight,
And to hear a child talkMonths before it could walk.
She has said o'er and -o'er,
And I am sure you can't wonder,
'Twouldn't frighten her more,
Had the rocks burst asunder,
And the earth belch'd forth thunder,

When Janey at length got over the fright
From hearing the sound and nobody in sight,
And the brat which lay crying, as if it was dying,
Talking out like a man of his wife and his child,
She felt all bedazzled as if she was wild--
Took the brat by the arm, flung it over her shoulder--
Wouldn't believe it her child if the parson had told her--
Thought the devil was in it,
As she ran the hill down,
Without -stopping a minute
Till she came to Brea -town.

The old women came out, and all on 'em agreed
'Twas the strangest thing that ever they seed;
They stood in a row, and each one had a word --
'Twas the wonderfull'st story that ever they heard;
'Twas a Spriggan's brat--they were all sure of that--
No more like Jane's child than an old ram-cat.
She must beat it black, she must beat it blue,
Bruise its body all o'er with the heel of her shoe--
Then lay it alone beneath the church stile,
And keep out of hearing and sight for a while--
When every one said, as every one thought,
That Janey's child would again be brought:
Some said 'twould be living--some said 'twould be dead -
But the Spriggan's base brat she no longer need dread.

Jane beat the babe black,
And she beat the babe blue,
On the ashes' pile before the door;
And she would have beaten it ten times more,
But out of her hand she lost her shoe,
Struck away all at once - by she couldn't tell who.

The brat bad roar'd--it could roar no more--
So they carried it off to the old church stile,
And laid it under the stones--some swore
That when placed on the earth it was seen to smile --
Then all turn'd back, and kept far out of sight
And Janey declared she was almost wild:
But they kept her back till the turn o' the night,
When she rush'd to the stile and found her own child

'Twas there, sure enough, her own dear child
But when first she saw it,
She did not know it-- It look'd so frighten'd--it seem'd so wild.

Then the old women said,
If it keeps its wits,
We're sadly afraid
The poor babe will have fits

Hunt 1903


Knockers

'AT Ransom Mine the "Knockers" were always very active in their subterranean operations. In every part of the mine their "knockings" were heard, but most especially were they busy in one particular "end." There was a general impression that great wealth must exist at this part of the "lode." Yet, notwithstanding the inducements of very high "tribute" were held out to the miners, no pair of men could be found brave enough to venture on the ground of the "Bockles." An old man and his son, called Trenwith, who lived near Bosprenis, went out one midsummer eve, about midnight, and watched until they saw the "Smae People" bringing up the shining ore. It is said they were possessed of some secret by which they could communicate with the fairy people. Be this as it may, they told the little miners that they would save them all the trouble of breaking down the ore, that they would bring "to grass" for them, one-tenth of the "richest stuff," and leave it properly dressed, if they would quietly give them up this end. An agreement of some kind was come to. The old man and his son took the "pitch," and in a short time realised much wealth. The old man never failed to keep to his bargain, and leave the tenth of the ore for his friends. He died. The son was avaricious and selfish. He sought to cheat the Knockers, but he ruined himself by so doing. The "lode" failed; nothing answered with him; disappointed, he took to drink, squandered all the money his father had made, and died a beggar.'

Hunt 1903

The Spriggans of Trencrom Hill

'IT is not many years since a man, who thought he was fully informed as to the spot in which a crock of the giant's gold was buried, proceeded on one fine moonlight night to this enchanted hill, and with spade and pick commenced his search. He proceeded for some time without interruption, and it became evident to him that the treasure was not far off. The sky was rapidly covered with the darkest clouds, shutting out the brilliant light o the moon--which had previously gemmed each cairn--and leaving the gold-seeker in total and unearthly darkness. The wind rose, and roared terrifically amidst the rocks; but this was soon drowned amidst the fearful crashes of thunder, which followed in quick succession the flashes of lightning. By its light the man perceived that the spriggans were coming out in swarms from all the rocks. They were in countless numbers; and although they were small at first, they rapidly increased in size, until eventually they assumed an almost giant form, looking all the while, as he afterwards said, "as ugly as if they would eat him." How this poor man escaped is unknown, but he is said to have been so frightened that he took to his bed, and was not able to work for a long time.'

Hunt 1903

Piskies in the Cellar - picture

Hartland 1890

Reffrence for Brook 1890

English Fairy and Other Folk Tales

Selected and Edited, with an Introduction by

Edwin Sidney Hartland

[b. 1848 d. 1927]
Illustrations by

C E Brock

London:

Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane,
Paternoster Row.

[1890]

Scanned and redacted by Phillip Brown. Additional proofing and formatting [April 2003] at sacred-texts.com by J. B. Hare. This text is in the public domain. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact

[please consider yourself referenced and acknowledged! Thanks!]

Piskies in the cellar - part 2

'Our story has especially to do with the adventures of one of the party, John Sturtridge, who, well primed with ale, started on his homeward way for Luxulyan Church-town. John had got as far as Tregarden Down without any mishap worth recording, when, alas! he happed upon a party of the little people, who were at their sports in the shelter of a huge granite boulder. Assailed by shouts of derisive laughter, he hastened on frightened and bewildered, but the Down, well known from early experience, became like ground untrodden, and after long trial no gate or stile was to be found. He was getting vexed, as well as puzzled, when a chorus of tiny voices shouted, "Ho! and away for Par Beach!" John repeated the shout, and was in an instant caught up, and in a twinkling found himself on the sands of Par. A brief dance, and the cry was given, "Ho! and away for Squire Tremain's cellar!" A repetition of the Piskie cry found John with his elfish companions in the cellars at Heligan, where was beer and wine galore. It need not be said that he availed himself of his opportunities. The mixture of all the good liquors so affected him that, alas! he forgot in time to catch up the next cry of "Ho ! and away for Par Beach!" In the morning John was found by the butler, groping and tumbling among butts and barrels, very much muddled with the squire's good drink. His strange story, very incoherently told, was not credited by the squire, who committed him to jail for the burglary, and in due time he was convicted and sentenced to death.

The morning of his execution arrived; a large crowd had assembled, and John was standing under the gallows-tree, when a commotion was- observed in the crowd, and a little lady of commanding mien made her way through the opening throng to the scaffold. In a shrill, sweet voice, which John recognised, she cried, "Ho! and away for France!" Which being replied to, he was rapt from the officers of justice, leaving them and the multitude mute with wonder and disappointment.'


Hunt 1903

The Piskies in the Cellar - Part 1

'THE following story, for which I am indebted to Mr T. Q. Couch, will remind the reader of "The Cluricaun" and "The Haunted Cellar," in "Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland." By T. Crofton Croker, Esq.

On the Thursday immediately preceding Christmas-tide (year not recorded), were assembled at "The Rising Sun" the captain and men of a stream work [A "stream work" is a place where tin is obtained from the drift deposits. Streamers are the sinners who wash not the tin.] in the Couse below. This Couse was a flat, alluvial moor, broken by gigantic mole-hills, the work of many a generation of tinners. One was half inclined, on looking at the turmoiled ground, to believe with them that the tin grew in successive crops, for, after years of turning and searching, there was still enough left to give the landlord his dole, and to furnish wages to some dozen streamers. This night was a festival observed in honour of one .Picrous, [Picrous day is still kept up in Luxulyan]and intended to celebrate the discovery of tin on this day by a man of that name. The feast is still kept, though the observance has dwindled to a supper and its attendant merrymaking...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Barkers Knee or The Fairy Tools

'There lived in the neighbourhood a great, hulking fellow, who would rather do anything than work, and who refused to believe anything he heard. He had been told of the Fairy Well--he said it was "all a dream." But since the good people around him reiterated their belief in the fairies of the well, he said he 'd find it all out. So day after day, Barker--that was this hulk's name--would lie down amidst the ferns growing around the mouth of the well, and, basking in the sunshine, listen and watch. He soon heard pick and shovel, and chit-chat, and merry laughter. Well, "he 'd see the out of all this," he told his neighbours. Day after day, and week after week, this fellow was at his post. Nothing resulted from his watching. At last he learned to distinguish the words used by the busy workers. He discovered that each set of labourers worked eight hours, and that, on leaving, they hid their tools. They made no secret of this; and one evening he heard one say, he should place his tools in a cleft in the rock; another, that he should put his under the ferns; and another said, he should leave his tools on Barker's knee. He started on hearing his own name. At that moment a heavy weight fell on the man's knee; he felt excessive pain, and roared to have the cursed things taken away. His cries were answered by laughter. To the day of his death Barker had a stiff knee; he was laughed at by all the parish; and "Barker's knee" became a proverb.'

Hunt 1903

Buccas or Knockers

'Buccas or knockers are believed to inhabit the rocks, caves, adits, and wells of Cornwall. In the parish of Towednack there was a well where those industrious small people might every day be heard busy at their labours--digging with pickaxe and shovel. I said, every day. No; on Christmas-day--on the Jews' Sabbath--on Easter-day--and on All-Saints' day -- no work was done. Why our little friends held those days in reverence has never been told me, Any one, by placing his ear on the ground at the mouth of this well, could distinctly hear the little people at work.'

Hunt 1903

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Night Riders

'I WAS on a visit when a boy at a farmhouse situated near Fowey river. Well do I remember the farmer with much sorrow telling us one morning at breakfast, that "the piskie people had been riding Tom again;" and this he regarded as certainly leading to the destruction of a fine young horse. I was taken to the stable to see the horse. There could be no doubt that the animal was much distressed, and refused to eat his food. The mane was said to be knotted into fairy stirrups; and Mr--told me that he had no doubt at least twenty small people had sat upon the horse's neck. He even assured me that one of his men had seen them urging the horse to his utmost speed round and round one of his fields.'

Hunt 1903

Pigseys

'" 'YE see that 'ere hoss there?" said a Liskeard farmer to a West-Country miner.

"What ov it?" asked the miner.

"Well, that 'ere hoss he 'n been ridden to death a'most by the pigsies again."

"Pigsies!" said the miner; "thee don't b'leve in they, do 'ee?"

"Ees I do; but I specks you 're a West-Country bucca, ain't 'ee? It you 'd a had yourn hosses wrode to death every riite, you 'd tell another tayl, I reckon. But as sure as I 'se living the pigsies do ride on 'em whenever they 'ye a mind to."'


Hunt 1903

The Lost Child

'IN the little hamlet of Treonike, in the parish of St Allen, has long lingered the story of a lost child, who was subsequently found. All the stories agree in referring the abduction of the child to supernatural agency, and in some cases it is referred to the "Small People or Piskies,"--in others, to less amiable spiritual creatures. Mr Hals [a] has given one version of this story, which differs in some respects from the tale as I heard it, from an old woman some thirty years since, who then lived in this parish. Her tale was to the following effect. It was a lovely evening, and the little boy was gathering flowers in the fields, near a wood. The child was charmed by hearing some beautiful music, which he at first mistook for the song of birds; but, being a sharp boy, he was not long deceived, and he went towards the wood to ascertain from whence the melodious sounds came. When he reached the verge of the wood, the music was of so exquisite a character, that he was compelled to follow the sound, which appeared to travel before him. Lured in this way, the boy penetrated to the dark centre of the grove, and here, meeting with some difficulties, owing to the thick growth of underwood, he paused and began to think of returning. The music, however, became more ravishing than before, and some invisible being appeared to crush down all the low and tangled plants, thus forming for him a passage, over which he passed without any difficulty. At length he found himself on the edge of a small lake, and, greatly to his astonishment, the darkness of night was around him, but the heavens were thick with stars. The music ceased, and, wearied with his wanderings, the boy fell asleep on a bed of ferns. He related, on his restoration to his parents, that he was taken by a beautiful lady through palaces of the most gorgeous description. Pillars of glass supported arches which glistened with every colour, and these were hung with crystals far exceeding anything which were ever seen in the caverns of a Cornish mine. It is, however, stated that many days passed away before the child was found by his friends, and that at length he was discovered, one lovely morning, sleeping on the bed of ferns, on which he was supposed to have fallen asleep on the first adventurous evening. There was no reason given by the narrator why the boy was "spirited away" in the first instance, or why he was returned. Her impression was, that some sprites, pleased with the child's innocence and beauty, had entranced him. That when asleep he had been carried through the waters to the fairy abodes beneath them; and she felt assured that a child so treated would be kept under the especial guardianship of the sprites for ever afterwards. Of this, however, tradition leaves us in ignorance.'

Hunt 1903

Braunton - St Branock's Well

'"I forbear," says Leland (Itin.), "to speak of St. Branock's
cow, his staff, his oak, his well, and his servant Abel, all of which
are lively represented in a glass window of that church,"—Ibid.,
256.'

Hope 1893

North Tawton Prophetic spring

'In the parish is the barton of Bath, and famous for a pool which was usually dry in summer, but which " before the death of any great prince or other strange accident " would in the driest time become full of water, and so continue until the matter happened that, it thus foretold : so says Westcote, writing about 1630. The pool is on the left of the road from Bow to Okehampton.— Ibid., 217''

Hope 1893

Exeter - St. Sidwell's / St Sativola's Well

'On the spot where St. Sidwella is reputed to have been martyred is the well.dedicated in her honour; it is situated on the left-hand of the Exeter side of the tunnel leaving the city, at a place called Lion's Holt. St. Sidwella, virgin martyr 740, was buried near St. Sidwell's Church, Exeter. William of Worcester speaks of her thus : "Sancta Satwola virgo canonizata ultra portam orientalem." She is commemorated on December 18. A line spring near the church supplied the ancient well bearing her name, by which, tradition has it, she lived the life of a recluse. In the east window of Exeter Cathedral she is represented with a scythe in her hand, and a well behind her, probably but a rebus on her name Sithewella ; she also figures on one of the columns in the cathedral, carrying her head in her hands (Col. Aug. Ch., 287). Bishop Grandison, in his Legenda Sanctorum, states that St. Sidwella was the eldest of four devout sisters, daughters of Henna, a noble Briton residing in Exeter. On his death, her cruel and covetous stepmother, envious of the fortune of St. Sidwella, who inherited considerable property in the eastern suburbs of the city, engaged one of her servants, a reaper or mower, to become her assassin, which he did, whilst she was occupied in her devotions, near the well in Hedeweil Mede, at a little distance from the
parish church which still bears her name. The locality of the spring agrees very well with this, as it is situated in what is now called Well Lane. Some time hence people may wonder why this street is so called, as the well is not now to be seen ; it has been destroyed, and the site is occupied by a house which has been built over it. The well, however, is distinctly marked on. Rogers' map of Exeter, dated 1744, as "Sidwell's Well"—Trans. and Reports Dev. Ass., xii. 449.'

Hope 1893

Dean Coombe - The Pool of the Black Hound

'In the parish of Dean Combe is a narrow wooded valley, watered by a streamlet, that in two or three places falls into cascades of considerable beauty. At the foot of one of these is a deep hollow called the Hound's Pool. Its story is as follows : There once lived in this hamlet a weaver of great fame and skill. After long prosperity he died, and was buried. But the next day he appeared sitting at the loom in his chamber, working diligently as when he was alive. His sons applied to the parson, who went accordingly to the foot of the stairs, and heard the noise of the weaver's shuttle above. " Knowles !" he said, " come down ; this is no place for thee." "I will," said the weaver, "as soon as I have worked out my quill " (the quill is the shuttle full of wool). " Nay," said the Vicar, "thou hast been long enough at thy work; come down at once !" So when the spirit came down, the Vicar took a handful of earth from the churchyard and threw it in his face. And in a moment it became a black hound. " Follow me," said the Vicar, and it followed him to the gate of the wood. And when they got there, it seemed as if all the trees in the wood were "coming together," so great was the wind. Then the Vicar took a nutshell with a hole in it, and led the hound to the pool below the waterfall. "Take this shell," he said, "and when thou shall have dipped out the pool with if, thou mayest rest, not before." And at mid-day or at midnight the hound may still be seen at its work. —Notes and Queries, 1 S., ii. 515'

Hope 1893

North Molton - Holy Well Revel

'At daybreak on Ascension morning (1882), two men, and a woman carrying a child, were seen hurrying towards the celebrated well at North Molton, each trying to outrun the others, so as to be the first to bathe, and to be cured of some ailment. Later in the day merry groups of children and picnic parties enlivened the glen in which the well is situated. An old chapel, with a cemetery attached, is said to have formerly occupied the ground surrounding the far-famed spring. Every year pilgrims full of faith in the miraculous power of the water visit the spot for bathing, and jars
of the water are carried by some of them to their homes ; indeed, believers prize this water, which they carry back with them, as much as ever did any pilgrims of old value the leaden bottle of liquid obtained from Beckett's tomb at Canterbury.—Folk-lore Record, v., 160.

The North Devonshire Herald, May 25,1884, records a pilgrimage having just been made to the well on the morning of Ascension Day.'

Hope 1893

Clacywell / Classenwell Pool

'This pool is believed to be bottomless; it, however, really fills the shaft of an early mine.'

Hope 1893

Chipping Tawton - Prophetic Spring

'There is a pool here, usually dry in summer, but before the death of a royal personage, or any great accident, is said—even in the driest season—to become full of water, and so continue till the
event thus foretold is fulfilled.'

Hope 1893

Fice's or Fitz's Pool near Princetown

'John Fitz, of Fitzford, near Tavistock, who was one day riding with his wife, lost his way on the moor. After wandering in vain to find the right path, being thirsty and fatigued, he at last found a delicious spring of water, whose powers seemed to be miraculous, for no sooner had he partaken thereof than he was enabled to trace his steps correctly home wards. It is still believed to possess many healing virtues. In gratitude John Fitz erected the memorial stone marked I. F., 1568, which, with a few other slabs of granite, protects it, for the advantage of all pixy-led travellers. It is about 3 feet deep, and lies in a swamp near the remains of an ancient bridge, or clam, the bridge being partly swept away by a flood in 1873...

...One and a half miles north of Dartmoor Prison is the above well, protected by rude slabs of granite, bearing the initials J. F., and date 1568. It is said to possess many healing virtues, and to have been first brought into notice by John Fitz, of Fitzford, near Tavistock, who accidentally discovered it when, riding with his wife, he had lost his way on the moor. The legend runs that, "After wandering in the vain effort to find the right path, they felt so fatigued and thirsty that it was with extreme delight they discovered a spring of water, whose powers seemed to be miraculous ; for no sooner had they satisfied, their thirst than they were enabled to find their way through the moor towards home without the least difficulty. In gratitude for this deliverance, and the benefit they had received from the water, John Filz caused a stone memorial to be placed over the spring, for the advantage of all pixy-led travellers." It ¡s about 3 feet deep, and lies in a swamp at a short distance from the remains of an ancient bridge, or clam, on the Blackabrook. The bridge was swept away by a flood " (1873). — Murray's Guide, 207.

Hope 1893

[seems to have accidentally got two entries!]

Dartmoor - Cranmere Pool

'Cranmere Pool is believed to be a place of punishment for unhappy spirits, who are frequently lo be heard wailing in the morasses which surround it.'

Hope 1893

Plymouth - Drakies Leat

'The source of the Plymouth leat is visited annually by the Mayor and Corporation, who there drink in water "to the pious memory of Sir Francis Drake," and then in wine, "May the descendants of him who brought us water never want wine." The legend runs that the inhabitants, or rather laundresses, being much inconvenienced from want of water, Sir Francis Drake called for his horse, and riding into Dartmoor, searched about until he had found a very fine spring, when he bewitched it with magical words, and, starting away at a gallop, the stream followed his horse's heels into the town.'

Hope 1893

Morwenstow - Well of St John in the wWlderness


'The following is recorded in the endowment deed, dated 1296, regarding this well on the eastern boundary of Morwenstow Glebe. It is preserved in Bishop Brantingham's Register : " The church land is said to extend eastward ad queridum fonlem Johannis. Water wherewithal to fill the font for baptism is always drawn from this well by the sacristan, in pitchers set apart for this purpose. It stands midway down the cliff on the present glebe ; around it on either hand are rugged and sea-worn rocks, before it the wide sea." This hallowed spot has been made by Mr. Hawker the subject of the following lines :
Mere dwelt in times long past, so legends tell,
Holy Morwenna, guardian of this well;
Here on the foreheads of our fathers pour'd
From this lone spring the laver of the Lord !
If, traveller, (liy happy spirit know
That awful font whence living waters flow,
Then hither come to draw—thy feet h.'tve found
Amid these rocks a place of holy ground !
Then sigh one blessing I breathe a voice of praise
O'er the fond labour of departed days !
Tell the glad waters of their former fame,
And teach the joyful winds Morwenna's name.

Hope 1893

[I have been here, me and my future wife tied clouties - or in our case worn out friendship bracelets to the branches and made wishes - a different tradition, but felt like we aught to make some sort of an offering. The etching may be correct - except in scale - but the description seemed wrong unless the sea has moved a bit. It might have been that the trees hid the sea, but we didn't seem that close to it. It now appears to be almost in someones garden.]





Morwenstowe : St. Moorin's Well

'THE following curious tradition has been preserved among some valuable MSS. belonging to the Coffins, of Porteldge. They were collected by an antiquary of that family above 250 years since. " Moorwinstow, its name, is from St. Moorin. The tradition is, that when the parishioners were about to build their church this saint went down under the cliff and chose a stone for the font, which she brought up upon her head. In her way, being weary, she lay down the stone and rested herself, out of which place sprang a well, from thence called St. Moorin's Well. Then she took up the stone and carried it to the place where now the church standeth. The parishioners had begun their church in another place, and there did convey this stone, but what was built by day was pulled down by night, and the materials carried to this place; whereupon they forbare, and built it in the place they were directed to by a wonder."'

Hope 1893

Reffrence for - Hope 1893

The Legendary Lore of the Holywells of England
Including Rivers, Lakes, Fountains and Springs

Robert Charles Hope
1893 (republished 2000)

London: Elliot Stock

(from book)

Dawlish - Smuggler's Lane

'At the Teignmouth end the cliffs are obstructed by private grounds; but one can take the direct Teignmouth road, then after a mile or more turn down at Lower Holcombe by "Smuggler's Lane", passing under the railway to regain the coast near the Parson and Clark rocks, two proninant stacks of red sandstone which hold there own, more or less, against the buffeting of the waves.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Exmouth - Smugglers Steps

'About 2 miles to the East [of Exmouth] a scramble down the cliff by the "Smuggler's Steps" gives swimmers a capital dive when the tide is up.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Friday, 28 May 2010

St James' Church, Exeter

'St James's Recently re-erected in the Early English style, has a pulpit of Spanish carved oak, formally in the cathedral, and said to have been captured in a Spanish galleon.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Exeter Cathedral and the Gunpowder Plot

'In the south tower hang eleven bells; the tenor, weighing 7522lbs., and a gift of Bishop Grandisson, was cracked when ringing an exuberant peal on the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Exeter and Athelstan

'Then after undergoing various vicissitudes in the early years of Saxon supremacy, the town was more firmly settled by Athelstan (about 927), who protected it with walls, established and abbey, and is justifiably regarded as the founder of modern Exeter by all loyal Exonians.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Changelings

'A CORRESPONDENT, to whom I am much indebted for many curious examples of the folk-lore of the people in the -remote districts to the west of Penzance, says, in reference to some stories of fairy changelings--"I never knew but one child that had been kept by the Spriggans more than three days. It was always complaining, sickly, and weakly, and had the very face of a changeling."

It has been my fortune, some thirty or forty years since, to have seen several children of whom it had been whispered amongst the peasantry that they were changelings. In every case they have been sad examples of the influence of mesenteric disease--the countenance much altered -- their eyes glassy and sunk in their sockets--the nose sharpened--the cheeks of a marble whiteness, unless when they were flushed with hectic fever--the lips sometimes swollen and of a deep,- red colour, and small ulcers not unfrequently at the angles of the mouth. The wasted frame, with sometimes strumous swellings, and the unnatural abdominal enlargement which accompanies disease of mesenteric glands, gives a very sad, and often a most unnatural appearance to the sufferer. The intense ignorance which existed in many of the districts visited by me, at the period named, has been almost dispelled by the civilising influences of Wesleyanism. Consequently, when ascrofulous child is found in a family, we no longer hear of its being a changeling; but, within a very recent period, I have heard it said that such afflicted children had been "ill-wished."'

Hunt 1903

Nursing a Fairie - part 3

[cont.] '...Curious robberies had been from time to time committed in St Ives Market, and although the most careful watch had been kept, the things disappeared, and no thief detected. One day our good housewife was at the market, and to her surprise she saw the father of her nursling. Without ceremony she ran, up to him,--at a moment when he was putting some choice fruit by stealth into his pocket,--and spoke to him. "So, thou seest me, dost thou?" "To be sure I do, and know 'ee too," replied the woman. "Shut this eye," putting his finger on her left eye. "Canst see me now?" "Yes, I tell 'ee, and know 'ee too," again said the woman.

" Water for elf; not water for self;
Yon've lost your eye, your child, and yourself,"

said the gentleman. From that hour she was blind in the right eye. When she got home the boy was gone. She grieved sadly, but she never saw him more, and this once happy couple became poor and wretched.'

Hunt 1903

Nursing a Fairie - part 2

[cont.] '...When out on the road, the bandage was removed from her eyes, and she found she had a small baby in- her arms, not remarkably good-looking, with very sharp, piercing eyes, and but ordinarily dressed. However, a bargain is a bargain; so she resolved to make the best of it, and she presented the babe to her husband, telling him so much of the story as she thought it prudent to trust him with. For years the child was with this couple. They never wanted for anything; meat, and even wines, were provided,--as most people thought,--by wishing for them; clothes, ready-made, were on the child's bed when required; and the charmed water was always in the magic ewer. The little boy grew active and strong. He was remarkably wild, yet very tractable, and he appeared to have a real regard for his "big mammy," as he called the woman. Sometimes - she thought the child was mad. He would run, and leap, and scream, as though he were playing with scores of boys, when no soul was near him. The woman had never seen the father since the child had been with them; but ever and anon, money was conveyed to them in some mysterious manner. One morning, when washing the boy, this good woman, who had often observed how bright the water made the face of the child, was tempted to try if it would improve her own beauty. So directing the boy's attention to some birds singing on a tree outside the window, she splashed some of the water up into her face. Most of it went into her eye. She closed it instinctively, and upon opening it, she saw a number of little people gathered round her and playing with the boy. She said not a word, though her fear was great; and she continued to see the world of small - people surrounding the world of ordinary men and women, being with them, but not of them. She now knew who the boy's playmates were, and she often wished to speak to the beautiful creatures of the invisible world who were his real companions; but she was discreet, and kept silence...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Nursing a Fairie - part 1

'A THRIFTY housewife lived on one of the hills between Zennor Church-town and St Ives. One night a gentleman came to her cottage, and told her he had marked her cleanliness and her care that he had a child whom he desired to have brought up with much tenderness, and he had fixed on her. She should be very handsomely rewarded for her trouble, and he showed her a considerable quantity of golden coin. Well, she agreed, and away she went with the gentleman to fetch this child. When they came to the side of Zennor hill, the gentleman told the woman he must bindfold her, and she, good, easy soul, having heard of such things, fancied this was some rich man's child, and that the residence of its mother was not to be known, so she gave herself great credit for cunning in quietly submitting. They walked on some considerable distance. When they stopped the handkerchief was taken from her eyes, and she found herself in a magnificent room, with a table spread with the most expensive luxuries, in the way of game, fruits, and wines. She was told to eat, and she did so with some awkwardness, and not a little trembling. She was surprised that so large a feast should have been spread for so small a party,--only herself and the master. At last, having enjoyed luxuries such as she never tasted before or since, a silver bell was rung, and a troop of servants came in, bearing a cot covered with satin, in which was sleeping the most beautiful babe that human eyes ever gazed on. She was told this child was to be committed to her charge; she should not want for anything; but she was to obey certain laws. She was not to teach the child the Lord's Prayer; she was not to wash it after sundown she was to bathe it every morning in water, which she would find in a white ewer placed in the child's room this was not to be touched by any one but herself, and she was to be careful not to wash her own face in this water. - In all other respects she was to treat the child as one of her own children. The woman was blinded again, and the child having been placed in her arms, away she trudged, guided by the mysterious father...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Piskay-led

'The Cornish had formerly a great belief in piskays or fairies. If a traveller happened to lose his way, he immediately concluded he was "piskay led." To dispel the charm with which the "piskay-led" traveller was entangled, nothing was deemed sufficient but that of his turning one of his garments inside-out. This generally fell upon one of his stockings; and if this precaution bad been taken before the commencement of the journey, it was fully believed that no such delusion would have happened--Drew and Hitchins' History of Cornwall, p. 97'

Quoted in Hunt 1903

Moths, weasels and ants - and Fairies

'Mr Thorns has noticed that in Cornwall "the moths which some regard as departed souls, others as fairies, are called Pisgies." This is somewhat too generally expressed; the belief respecting the moth, so far as I know, is confined to one or two varieties only. Mr Couch informs us that the local name, around Polperro, of the weasel is Fairy. So that we have evidence of some sort of metempsychosis amongst the elf family. Moths, ants, and weasels it would seem are the forms taken by those wandering spirits.'

Hunt 1903

The Browney

'The Browney.--This spirit was purely of the household. Kindly and good, he devoted his every care to benefit the family with whom he had taken up his abode. The Browney has fled, owing to his being brought into very close contact with the schoolmaster, and he is only summoned now upon the occasion of the swarming of the bees. When this occurs, mistress or maid seizes a bell-metal, or a tin pan, and, beating it, she calls "Browney, Browney!" as loud as she can until the good Browney compels the bees to settle.'

Hunt 1903

The Knockers, or Buccas

'The Buccas or Knockers.--These are the sprites of the mines, and correspond to the Kobals of the German mines, the Duergars, and the Trolls. They are said to be the souls of the Jews who formerly worked the tin-mines of Cornwall. They are not allowed to rest because of their wicked practices as tinners, and they share in, the general curse which ignorant people believe still hangs on this race.'

Hunt 1903

The Piskie

'The Piskie.--This fairy is a most mischievous and very unsociable sprite. His favourite fun is to entice people into the bogs by appearing like the light from a cottage window, or as a man carrying a lantern. The Piskie partakes, in many respects, of the character of the Spriggan. So wide-spread were their depredations, and so annoying their tricks, that it at one time was necessary to select persons whose acuteness and ready tact were a match for these quick-witted wanderers, and many a clever man has become famous for his power to give charms against Pigseys. it does not appear, however, that anything remarkable was required of the clever man. "No Pigsey could harm a man if his coat were inside-out, and it became a very common practice for persons who had to go from village to village by night, to wear their jacket or cloak so turned, ostensibly to prevent the dew from taking the shine off the cloth, but in reality to render them safe from the Pigseys."

They must have been a merry lot, since to "laugh like a Piskie" is a popular saying. These little fellows were great plagues to the farmers, riding their colts and chasing their cows.'

Hunt 1903

The Spriggan

'The Spriggans are quite a different class of beings. In some respects they appear to be offshoots from the-family of the Trolls of Sweden and Denmark. The Spriggans are found only about the cairns, coits, or cromlechs, burrows, or detached stones, with which it is unlucky for mortals to meddle. A correspondent writes: "This is known, that they were a remarkably mischievous arid thievish tribe. If ever a house was robbed, a child stolen, cattle carried away, or a building demolished, it was the work of the Spriggans. Whatever commotion took place in earth, air, or water, it was all put down as the work of these spirits. Wherever the giants have been, there the Spriggans have been also. It is usually considered that they are the ghosts of the giants; certainly, from many of their feats, we must suppose them to possess giant's strength. The Spriggans have the charge of buried treasure."'

Hunt 1903

The Small People

Of the Small People I have heard two accounts. Indeed, it is by no means clear that the tradition of their origin does not apply to the whole five branches of this ancient family. The Small People are believed by some to be the spirits of the people who inhabited Cornwall many thousands of years ago--long, long before the birth of Christ. That they were not good enough to inherit the joys of heaven, but hat they were too good to be condemned to eternal fires. They were said to be "poor innocents" (this phrase is now applied to silly children). When they first came into this land, they were much larger than they are now, but ever since the birth of Christ they have been getting smaller and smaller. Eventually they will turn into muryans (ants), and at last be lost from the face of the earth. These Small People are exceedingly playful amongst themselves, but they are usually demure when they know that any human eye sees them. They commonly aid those people to whom they take a fancy, and, frequently, they have been known to perform the most friendly acts towards men and women. The above notion corresponds with the popular belief in Ireland, which is, "that the fairies are a portion of the fallen angels, who, being less guilty than the rest, were not driven to hell, but were suffered to dwell on earth." [d] In Cornwall, as in Wales, another popular creed is, that the- fairies are Druids becoming--because they will not give up their idolatries--smaller and smaller. These Small People in many things closely resemble the Elves of Scandinavia.'

Hunt 1903

The 5 fairy varieties of Cornwall

'It should be understood that there are in Cornwall five varieties of the fairy family, clearly distinguishable --

1. The Small People.

2. The Spriggans.

3. Piskies, or Pigseys.

4. The Buccas, Bockles, or Knockers.

5. The Browneys.'

Hunt 1903

Fairies and Pixies in Cornwall and Devon

'They are truly the fairies of " Midsummer Night's Dream." They haunt the most rural and romantic' spots, and they gather

"On hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance their ringlets to the whistling wind."

No such fairies are ever met with on Dartmoor. A few, judging from Mrs Bray's tales, [c]may have been tempted into the lovely valley of the Tavy, but certainly they never crossed the Tamar. The darker shades in the character of the Cornish fairy almost dispose me to conclude that they belong to an older family than those of Devonshire.'

Hunt 1903

Some Devon Fairies

'A gentleman, well known in the literary world of London, very recently told me, that he once saw in Devonshire a troop of fairies. It was a breezy summer afternoon, and these beautiful little creatures were floating on the circling zephyrs up the side of a sunlit hill, and fantastically playing

"Where oxlips and the nodding violet grow."'

Hunt 1903

On the nature of Pixies

'The Piscy or Pixy of East Devon and Somersetshire is a different creature from his cousin of a similar name in Cornwall. The former is a mischievous, but in all respects a very harmless creation, who appears to live a rollicking life amidst the luxuriant scenes of those beautiful counties. The latter, the piskies of Cornwall, appear to have their wits sharpened by their necessities, and may be likened to the keen and cunning "Arab" boy of the London streets, as seen in contrast with the clever child who has been reared in every comfort of a well-regulated home.'

Hunt 1903

Fairie Distribution

'Between thirty and forty years since, ere yet the influences of our practical education had disturbed the poetical education of the people, every hill and valley, every tree, shrub, and flower was peopled with spiritual creations, deriving their characteristics from the physical peculiarities amidst which they were born. Extending over the whole district which was formerly known as Danmonium, [a] -- embracing not only Cornwall, but Devonshire, to the eastern edge of Dartmoor, -- we find a mythology, which varies but little in its main features. Beyond an imaginary line, drawn in a north-westerly direction from the mouth of the Teign to the rise of the Torridge, the curiously wild and distinguishing superstitions of the "Cornwallers" [b] fade away, and we have those which are common to Somersetshire and the more fertile counties of mid-England.'

Hunt 1903

The giant Ordulf

'THIS Tavistock Sampson is far removed from our fine old legendary giant; yet we perceive in the stories of Ordulph precisely the same process as that which has given immortality to Blunderbuss and others. In the church of the monastery of Tavistock, built by Orgar in 960, and consecrated by St Rumon, was buried Orgar, and also his son Edulf or Ordulph, to whom, by some writers, the foundation of the abbey is attributed Ordulph was a man of giant size, and possessing most remarkable strength. He once appeared before the gates of the city of Exeter in company with King Edward, and demanded admission. His demand was not immediately complied with. He tore away the bars of the portcullis with his hands--burst open the gates with his foot--rent the locks and bolts asunder--and broke down a considerable portion of the wall--walking into the city over the ruins, and occasioning great alarm amidst the inhabitants.

The king is said to have attributed this extraordinary feat of strength to the chieftain's having entered into a compact with the devil; and the people generally believed the king to be correct.

At Tavistock, it was the custom of Ordulph to stand with one foot on either side of the Tavy, which is about twenty feet wide, and having the wild beasts driven in from the Dartmoor forests, he would--with the seemingly insignificant blows of a small knife--strike their heads off into the stream. [a]

[a] William of Malmesbury tells us that both father and son were buried at Tavistock, which is thus described - Est in Domnonia caenobium monachorum, juxta Tau fiuvium, quod Tavistock vocator; quod per Ordgarum, comitem Domnoniensem, patrem Elffilda, gui fuit uxor regis Edgari, surgendi exordium, per Livinguns episcopum, cresendi accepit auspicium locus, amaenus opportunitate nemorum, captura copiosa piscum, Ecclesiae congruente fabriea, fluvialibus rivis per officinas monachorum decurrentibus, qui suo impetu effusi, quidquid invenerint superfium, portant in exitum." Quoted by Pedler in his "Episcopate of Cornwall."

Mrs Bray, in her "Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire," says,--"But notwithstanding the superiority of his strength and stature, Ordulph died in the flower of his age. He gave orders to be buried at his abbey at Herton, in Dorsetshire; but was interred in or near the Abbey Church of Tavistock, where a mausoleum or tomb of vast dimensions was erected to his memory, which is represented to have been visited as a wonder. 'The thigh-bone of Ordulph is still preserved in Tavistock Church."'

Hunt 1903

Ralph the giant

'NOT far from Portreath there exists a remarkable fissure, or gorge, on the coast, formed by the wearing out, through the action of the sea, of a channel of ground softer than that which exists on either side of it. This is generally known as Ralph's Cupboard; and one tale is, that Ralph was a famous smuggler, who would run his little vessel, even in dark nights, into the shelter afforded by this gorge, and safely land his goods. Another is, that it was formerly a cavern in which dwelt Wrath--a huge giant--who was the terror of the fishermen. Sailing from St Ives, they ever avoided the Cupboard; as they said, "Nothing ever came out of it which was unfortunate enough to get into it." Wrath is reputed to have watched for those who were drifted towards his Cupboard by currents, or driven in by storms. It is said that wading out to sea, he tied the boats to his girdle, and quietly walked back to his den, making, of course, all the fishermen his prey. The roof of the cavern is supposed to have fallen in after the death of the giant, leaving the open chasm as we now see it.'

Hunt 1903

The giant of Goran

'IN the parish of Goran is an intrenchment running from cliff to cliff, and cutting off about a hundred acres of coarse ground. This is about twenty feet broad, and twenty-four feet high in most places.

Marvellous as it may appear, tradition assures us that this was the work of a giant, and that he performed the task in a single night. This fortification has long been known as Thica Vosa, and the Hack and Cast.

The giant, who lived on the promontory, was the terror of the neighbourhood, and great were the rejoicings in Goran when his death was accomplished through a stratagem by a neighbouring doctor.

The giant fell ill through eating some food--children or otherwise--to satisfy his voracity, which had disturbed his stomach. His roars and groans were heard for miles, and great was the terror throughout the neighbourhood. A messenger, however, soon arrived at the residence of the doctor of the parish, and he bravely resolved to obey the summons of the giant, and visit him. He found the giant rolling on the ground with pain, and he at once determined to rid the world, if possible, of the monster.

He told him that he must be bled. The giant submitted, and the doctor moreover said that, to insure relief, a large hole in the cliff must be filled with the blood. The giant lay on the ground, his arm extended over the hole, and the blood flowing a torrent into it. Relieved by the loss of blood, he permitted the stream to flow on, until he at last became so weak, that the doctor kicked him over the cliff, and killed him. The well-known promontory of The Dead Man, or Dodman, is so called from the dead giant. The spot on which he fell is the "Giant's House," and the hole has ever since been most favourable to the growth of ivy.'

Hunt 1903

The giant Bolster, part 3

[cont.] '...Be this as it may, the giant Bolster became deeply in love with St Agnes, who is reputed to have been singularly beautiful, and a pattern woman of virtue. The giant allowed the lady no repose. He followed her incessantly, proclaiming his love, and filling the air with the tempests of his sighs and groans. St Agnes lectured Bolster in vain on the impropriety of his conduct, he being already a married man. This availed not; her prayers to him to relieve her from his importunities were also in vain. The persecuted lady, finding there was no release for her, while this monster existed, resolved to be rid of him at any cost, and eventually succeeded by the following stratagem:-- Agnes appeared at length to be persuaded of the intensity of the giant's love, but she told him she required yet one small proof more. There exists at Chapel Porth a hole in the cliff at the termination of the valley. If Bolster would fill this hole with his blood the lady would no longer look coldly on him. This huge bestrider-of-the-hills thought that it was an easy thing which was required of him, and felt that he could fill many such holes and be none the weaker for the loss of blood. Consequently, stretching his great arm across the hole, he plunged a knife into a vein, and a torrent of gore issued forth. Roaring and seething the blood fell to the bottom, and the giant expected in a few minutes to see the test of his devotion made evident, in the filling of the hole. It required much more blood than Bolster had supposed; still it must in a short time be filled, so he bled on. Hour after hour the blood flowed from the vein, yet the hole was not filled. Eventually the giant fainted from exhaustion. The strength of life within his mighty frame enabled him to rally, yet he had no power to lift himself from the ground, and he was unable to stanch the wound which he had made. Thus it was, that after many throes, the giant Bolster died !

The cunning saint, in proposing this task to Bolster, was well aware that the hole opened at the bottom into the sea, and that as rapidly as the blood flowed into the hole it ran from it, and did

"The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red."

Thus the lady got rid of her hated lover; Mrs Bolster was released, and the district freed from the presence of a tyrant. The hole at Chapel Porth still retains the evidences of the truth of this tradition, in the red stain which marks the track down which flowed the giant's blood.

There is another tradition, in some respects resembling this one, respecting a giant who dwelt at Goran, on the south Coast....'

Hunt 1903

The giant Bolster, part 2

[cont.] '...Bolster must have been of enormous size: since it is stated that he could stand with one foot on St Agnes' Beacon and the other on Carn Brea; these hills being distant, as the bird flies, six miles, [b] his immensity will be clear to all. In proof of this, there still exists, in the valley running upwards from Chapel Porth, a stone in which may yet be seen the impression of the giant's fingers. On one occasion, Bolster, when enjoying his usual stride from the Beacon to Carn Brea, felt thirsty, and stooped to drink out of the well at Chapel Porth, resting, while he did so, on the above-mentioned stone. We hear but little of the wives of our giants; but Bolster had a wife, who was made to labour hard by her tyrannical husband. On the top of St Agnes' Beacon there yet exist the evidences of the useless labours to which this unfortunate giantess was doomed, in grouped masses of small stones. These, it is said, have all been gathered from an estate at the foot of the hill, immediately adjoining the village of St Agnes. This farm is to the present day remarkable for its freedom from stones, though situated amidst several others, which, like most lands reclaimed from the moors of this district, have stones in abundance mixed with the soil. Whenever Bolster was angry with his wife, he compelled her to pick stones, and to carry them in her apron to the top of the hill. There is some confusion in the history of this giant, and of the blessed St Agnes to whom the church is dedicated. They are supposed to have lived at the same time, which, according to our views, is scarcely probable, believing, as we do, that no giants existed long after their defeat at Plymouth by Brutus and Corineus. There may have been an earlier saint of the same name; or may not Saint Enns or Anns, the popular name of this parish, indicate some other lady?...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

The giant Bolster, part 1

'HIS mighty man held especial possession of the hill formerly known as Carne Bury-anacht or Bury-anack, [a] "the sparstone grave," sometimes called St Agnes' Ball and St Agnes' Pestis, but which is now named, from the use made of the hill during the long war, St Agnes' Beacon. He has left his name to a very interesting, and undoubtedly most ancient earthwork, which still exists at the base of the hill, and evidently extended from Trevaunance Porth to Chapel Porth, enclosing the most important tin district in St Agnes. This is constantly called "The Bolster."...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

The giant of Morvah, part 2

[cont.] '...A Morva farmer writes:-- "A quarter of an acre would not hold the horses ridden to the fair,--the hedges being covered by the visitors, who drink and carouse as in former times. Morva Fair is, however, dying out."

The parish-clerk informed me that the giant had twenty sons; that he was the first settler in these parts; and that he planted his children all round the coast. It was his custom to bring all his family together on the 1st of August, and hence the origin of the fair. Whichever may be the true account of the cause which established the fair and the feast, these romances clearly establish the fact that the giants were at the bottom of it.

[a] The above notices were collected for me in Morva by the late C. Taylor Stephens, author of "The Chief of Barat-Anac," and "some time rural postman front St Ives to Zennor." Their connection with the traditions of Jack and Tom will be evident to every reader.'

Hunt 1903

The Giant of Morvha part 1

'IN the Giant's Field in Morva still stand some granite fragments which once constituted the Giant's House. From this we see the Giant's Castle at Bosprenis, and the Giant's Cradle, thus perpetuating the infancy of the great man, and his subsequent power. The quoits used by this giant are numerous indeed. This great man, on the 1st day of August, would walk up to Bosprenis Croft, and there perform some magical rites, which were either never known, or they have 'been forgotten. On this day,--for when thus engaged the giant was harmless,--thousands of people would congregate to get a glimpse of the monster; and as he passed them,--all being seated on the stone hedges, -- every one drank "to the health of Mr Giant." At length the giant died, but the gathering on the 1st of August has never been given up, or rather, the day shifts, and is made to agree with Morva Feast, which is held on the first Sunday in August...' [cont.]



Hunt 1903

Map- Bosprenis Croft / Bosporthennis Coit

Bampton Horse Fair

'The great annual Fete of Bampton is its autumn fair for the sale of Exmoor ponies, driven down by hundreds.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Pictures


[BBC do not allow copying and then broadcasting - shame]

On the 'Mistletoe Bough'

'The Legend of the Mistletoe Bough is a ghost story which has been associated with many mansions and stately homes in England. The tale tells how a new bride, playing a game of hide-and-seek during her wedding breakfast, hid in a chest in an attic and was unable to escape. She was not discovered by her family and friends, and suffocated. The body was allegedly found many years later in the locked chest.

Notable claimants for the story's location, some still displaying the chest, include Bramshill House and Marwell Hall in Hampshire, Castle Horneck in Cornwall, Basildon Grotto in Berkshire, Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, Exton Hall in Rutland, Brockdish Hall in Norfolk and Bawdrip Rectory in Somerset.

The tale first appeared in print in the form of a poem by Samuel Rogers entitled Ginerva, in his book 'Italy' published in 1823. In notes on this work, Rogers states ‘The story is, I believe, founded on fact; though the time and the place are uncertain. Many old houses lay claim to it.’

The popularity of the tale was greatly increased when it appeared as a song in the 1830s entitled 'The Mistletoe Bough' written by T.H. Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop. The song proved very popular. In 1859, its 'solemn chanting' was referred to as a 'national occurrence at Christmas'[2] in English households, and by 1862 the song was referred to as 'one of the most popular songs ever written', 'which must be known by heart by many readers'.[3]

Further works inspired by the song include a play of the same name by Charles A Somerset first produced in 1835. A short story, 'Ginevra or The Old Oak Chest: A Christmas Story' by Susan E Wallace published in 1887 and another short story "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" by Henry James published in 1868. The song is also played in Thomas Hardy's 'A Laodicean', after the scene involving the capture of George Somerset's handkerchief from the tower.

The story of the Mistletoe Bough is recounted in the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film Rope, where it is described as being the favorite tale of the main character, Brandon Shaw. Unbeknownst to the story teller, the body of his murdered son had been hidden by Shaw in the chest in front of which they are standing.'

[under a creative commons licence from Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_the_Mistletoe_Bough]

Tiverton Castle and the 'Mistletoe Bough'

'Here is preserved a grim relic - that fatal chest celebrated in Rogers' "Ginevra" and that once popular song of "The Mistletoe Bough".'

Hope Moncrieff 1895


'MISTLETOE BOUGH

(G) C G C / F G7 C / C G C / F G7 C

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall;
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.
The Baron's retainers were blithe and gay,
Keeping the Christmas holiday.

The Baron beheld with a father's pride
His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride.
And she, with her bright eyes seemed to be
The star of that goodly company.

F G7 C

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

"I'm weary of dancing, now," she cried;
"Here, tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide,
And, Lovell, be sure you're the first to trace
The clue to my secret hiding place."

Away she ran, and her friends began
Each tower to search and each nook to scan.
And young Lovell cried, "Oh, where do you hide?
I'm lonesome without you, my own fair bride."

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

They sought her that night, they sought her next day,
They sought her in vain when a week passed away.
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not.

The years passed by and their brief at last
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past.
When Lovell appeared, all the children cried,
"See the old man weeps for his fairy bride."
Oh, the mistletoe bough.

At length, an old chest that had long laid hid
Was found in the castle; they raised the lid.
A skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair.

How sad the day when in sportive jest
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest,
It closed with a spring and a dreadful doom,
And the bride lay clasped in a living tomb.

Oh, the mistletoe bough.

Published in "Ozark Folksongs" by Randolph and other folk music
collections. It is credited to Thomas Haynes Bayley, who also
wrote "Long Long Ago," and dates back to the early 19th century.'

[from The Mudcat Cafe - http://mudcat.org/]

The church of Cullompton

'When the building was restored in 1849, the plaster was removed from a singular frescoes; Amongst others, St Clara in a robe of safron, St Michael weighing human spirits in his balance, St. Christopher surounded by quaint fishes, and such mermaids as Tennyson never dreamed of.'

Hope Moncrieff, 1895

Village of Beer


Beer from the sea
'The village of Beer, once a nest of smugglers...'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Smugglers still at Beer?
 Map - Beer

A Devonshire Mile

'A "Devonshire mile" is a notoriously long one in the opinion of a rustic informant'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Dartmoor - Editor 1895 - a reffrence

Black's Guide to Devonshire
Edited by A. R. Hope Moncrieff
Fifteenth Edition
London: Adam and Charles Black
1895

[from book]

Thursday, 27 May 2010

A Note on Jack the Tinkeard

'I have preserved the pronunciation of this word, which was common in Cornwall between twenty and thirty years since, and which still prevails in some of the outlying districts. --

In Webster's English Dictionary we find tinker oddly enough derived from the Welsh tincerz, the ringer, from tinclaw, to ring, "a mender of brass kettles, pans, and the like." The word being so obviously tin-ceard, or tin-cerdd,.ithe original having been in all probability staen, or ystaen-cerdd, a worker in tin. The Gaelic still retains "ceard" and "caird" to represent the English smith.[b]

In the present case, we have to deal, there can be little doubt, not with the modem tinker, but the ancient worker in tin, as is shown in this division of the legend, although the story has suffered some modern corruption, and Jack is made to mend Jane's pots and pans.

The old Cornish saying --

Stean San Agvus an quella stean in Kernaw,

St Agnes' tin is the best tin in Cornwall--gives the original Cornish term for tin.

Jack the Tinkeard partakes of the character of Wayland Smith in many of his peculiarities.'

Hunt 1903

How Tom and Jack found tin, part 11

[cont.] '...There was a vast hole in the earth, and there, at the bottom of it, lay the giant, crushed by his own weight, groaning like a volcano and shaking like an earthquake.

Jack knew there was an adit level driven into the hill, and he had quietly, and at night, worked away the roof at one particular part, until he left only a mere shell of rock above, so it was, that, as the giant passed over this spot, the ground gave way. Heavy rocks were thrown down the hole on the giant, and there his bones are said to lie to this day.

Jack was married at once to young Jane, her brother Tom to the Morva girl, and great were the rejoicings. From all parts of the country came in the wrestlers, and never since the days of Gogmagog had there been such terrific struggles between strong men. Quoits were played; and some of the throws of Tom and the tinkeard are still shown to attest the wonderful prowess of this pair. Hurling was played over the wild hills of those northern shores, and they rung and echoed then, as they have often rung and echoed since, with the brave cry, "Guare wheag yw guare teag," which has been translated into "Fair play is good play," -an honourable trait in the character of our Celtic friends. All this took place on a Sunday, and was the origin of Morva Feast and Morva Fair. We are, of course, astonished at not finding some evidence of direct punishment for these offences, such as that which was inflicted on the hurlers at Padstow. This has, however, been explained on the principle that the people were merely rejoicing at the accomplishment of a most holy act, and that a good deed demanded a good day.'

Hunt 1903

How Tom and Jack found tin, part 10

[cont.] '...Tom's daughter became of marriageable years, and Jack wished to have her for a wife. Tom, however, would not consent to this, unless he got rid of a troublesome old giant who lived on one of the hills in Morva, which was the only bit of ground between Hayle and St Just which Tom did not possess. The people of Morva were kept in great fear by this giant, who made them bring him the best of everything. He was a very savage old creature, and took exceeding delight in destroying every one's happiness. Some of Tom's cousins lived in Morva, and young Tom fell in love with one of his Morva cousins seven times removed, and by Jack's persuasion, they were allowed by Tom and Jane to marry. It was proclaimed by Jack all round the country that great games would come off on the day of the wedding. He had even the impudence to stick a bill on the giant's door, stating the prizes which would be given to the best games. The happy day arrived, and, as the custom then was, the marriage was to take place at sundown. A host of people from all parts were assembled, and under the influence of Jack and Tom, the games were kept up in great spirit. Jack and Tom, by and by, amused themselves by pitching quoits at the giant's house on the top of the hill. The old giant came out and roared like thunder. All the young men were about to fly, but Jack called them a lot of scurvy cowards, and stayed their flight. Jack made faces at the giant, and challenged him to come down and fight him. The old monster thought he could eat Jack, and presently began to run down the hill,--when, lo! he disappeared. When the people saw that the giant was gone, they took courage, and ran up the hill after Jack, who called on them to follow him.

How Tom and Jack found tin, part 9

[cont.] '...Jack had a desire to go home to Dartmoor to see his mother, who had sent to tell him that the old giant Dart was near death. He started at once, on foot. Tom wished him to have Pengerswick's colt, but Jack preferred his legs. It would be too long a tale to tell the story of his travels. He killed serpents and wild beasts in the woods, and when he came to rivers, he had but to take off his coat, gather up the skirts of it with a string, and stretch out the body with a few sticks,--thus forming a cobble,--launch it on the water, and paddle himself across. He reached home. The old giant was at his last gasp. Jack made him give everything to his mother before he breathed his last. 'When he died, Jack carefully buried him. He then settled all matters for his mother, and returned to the West Country again....' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

How Tom and Jack found tin, part 8

[cont.]'..."Art thou the devil?" exclaimed Pengerswick.

"As he 's a friend of yours," says Jack, "you should know his countenance."

"Devil or no devil," roared Pengerswick, "you cannot resist this," and he held before Jack a curiously-shaped piece of polished steel.

Jack only smiled, and quietly unfastening his cow's hide, he opened it. The cross, like a star of fire, was reflected in a mirror under Jack's coat, and it fell from Pengerswick's grasp. Jack seized it, and turning it full upon the enchanter, the proud lord sank trembling to the ground, piteously imploring Jack to spare his life and let him go free. Jack bade the prostrate lord rise from the ground. He kicked him out of the castle, and sent the vicious mare after him. Thus he saved Tom and his family from the power of this great enchanter. In a little time the sleep which had fallen upon them passed away, and they awoke, as though from the effects of a drunken frolic. The brewer hurried home, and Tom and Jack set to work to dress their tin. Tom and Jane's relations and friends flocked around them, but Jack said, "Summer flies are only seen in the sunshine," and he shortly after this put their friendship to the test, by conveying to them the idea that Tom had spent all his wealth. These new friends dropped off when they thought they could get no more, and Tom and Jane were thoroughly disgusted with their summer friends and selfish relations. The tinkeard established himself firmly as an inmate of the castle. No more was said about the right of the public to make a king's highway through the castle grounds. He aided Torn in hedging in the wastelands, and very carefully secured the gates against all intruders. In fact, he also quite altered his politics.