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Thursday, 26 May 2011

1 year of Westcountry Folklore! or On folklore, archaeology, real land and virtual spaces...

Almost a year ago I saw the Broard-Bodied Chaser dragonfly laying her egg's around my pond.... If you want to use my pictures please attribute this blog - thanks!
[Here we are - almost a year after I started this website...

I decided when I started to carry on for a year come what may, and look back at the end of the first year to see how successful (or not) it had been. Here is what I found out - 

I have had about 13,700 hits since starting, December 2010 being the highest with over 2,300 hits.  Posting certainly does make a difference to the number of hits I receive, and original posts are far better than the archiving, mapping and key-wording of old stories available elsewhere on the web (unsurprisingly!).  It is rather a shame that the only format I could find to use (a blog) is not ideal for creating a database - it is more useful for immediate news - the archive doesn't receive many hits.

By far the most hits was received for a post I did on Widecome fair and the Devil. Almost every day someone will conduct a search for "Widecome Haunted" or some such - I am really confused by this!  Why so much interest...?

In terms of money generated I have only had 47 hits on adverts raising £9.48 in a year (and I cant access this until it reaches the magic £60 mark!) This really was a secondary concern for me - I was very unsure weather to monetize my blog in the first place - I didn't want it to put people off. However, it would be nice to realise it, so, you know, if an advert catches your eye....

My primary desire was to make a searchable database of lore, and I thought I might as well do this publicly, for the greater good.  I feel quite passionately that we are not educated enough in what real past people thought and believed or how they entertained themselves (old entertainment is not the same as bad entertainment - yes - I enjoy folk music...). Rather we are given some fictional ungrounded construction of aristocrat/celebrity history.  This is why I studied Archaeology - you get to see quite truthfully how tangled peoples lives where - and just how much of our past is full of really interesting dinamic people without coats of arms!  Where we live is amazing, and so are our ancestors - they weren't all off enslaving foreigners. 

Someone once said (I think it was a lecturer - but he was quoting) "the past is a foreign country".  I don't quite agree with this - I think the past is this country, here, under your feet, populated by a people with a mostly foreign culture - and sometimes their perspective on land is very enlightening, guiding me in how I can think of the land around me. I have learned a lot of respect for the land from past peoples (and piskies!) examples and mistakes.  To see nature personified helps give us anthropocentric humans a way back into the vast weave of nature.  I have to some extent been 'pixy led' by this lore away from the plight of seeing the world (past and present) through the cold dead eyes of economics and back into the healthy verdure of human scale interactions and emotions.  For an aspiring archaeologist I think this is vital...

Right - drink the water of Fitzes Well, turn my mental pockets inside-out - get back to the point....

Another purpose of this blog is that I have some vague ideas for a big Westcountry/Devonian folklore book in the future...  

I also wished to raise my profile a bit - I am going to publish a very local book sometime soon (about Chagford Folklore) and I have written for magazines.  I have sold a bit of artwork through here as well.

Keeping it all legal has been a bit of a challenge - Britain has some really hard to use copyright laws - 70 years after the death of an author - with obscure authors and in journals this is imposable to find.  When writing on folklore it is also hard to work out WHAT is copyrighted - I know peoples exact words are, but is the lore itself ?  Does a collector somehow 'own' the stuff they collect?  This seems pretty horrible given the free nature of folklore...

Incidentally all the images here are either copyright free or only require adequate attribution to use again - feel free!

Apologies for the dyslexic spelling...

So - I would love your thoughts on the project and where to go next.  Currently I am thinking about cutting down what I use from digital texts (mapping, illustrating and key-wording them) to 3 posts a week (3 being the most folkloric number!). I will also aim for one original post a week.

Let me know what you think...  What direction would you like to see this blog go?]


...And now 11 months later this beautiful insect emerges from the waters, casts her skin and reveals herself. If you want to use my pictures please attribute this blog - thanks!

Joanna Southcott - the Devonian mother of Shiloh, the second Messiah.

Joanna Southcott - "The Bride;" " The Lamb's Wife ;" " The Woman clothed with the Sun ;"  "the mother of Shiloh, the second Messiah"from Devonshire characters and strange events Baring-Gould, S (1908)

"Joanna, daughter of William and Hannah Southcott, was born on April loth, 1750, at Gittisham, Devonshire. Her father, a farm labourer, honest and hardworking, could give Joanna no better education than was to be had at the village dame's school : here she read the Bible with much attention and committed to memory as much as possible. In after life, during her "preaching days," she was thus enabled to apply texts of scripture to prove the truth of her doctrines. Few persons have excited so much curiosity, or obtained more notoriety than Joanna Southcott. She aspired to be the mother of a second Messiah, going so far as to predict the date on which he should be born.

She affirmed that the "angels rejoiced at her birth," in consequence of which it was her duty to turn her mind to religious subjects and to preach redemption to every soul. In 1790, she was employed as a workwoman in the shop of an upholsterer in Exeter. The master being a Methodist, many persons of that persuasion visited him : with these people Joanna easily ingratiated herself, and was by them held in great esteem. Under such conditions she began to expound her religious views and would enter into controversy with ministers, who were amongst the guests of her employer, taking upon herself the role of religious dictator. By declaring that she had visions of an extraordinary character she added to her importance, as she was supposed to be inspired beyond a common degree of human nature. 

Considering herself " called of God," she determined to take up the ministry as her future vocation. In 1792, she began her declarations, that, "the Lord had visited her and entered into a sacred covenant, the conditions of which He would reveal to her alone in a vision." 

To such a depraved state had she arrived, that she blasphemously declared that God appeared to her, not in " the beauty of Holiness," not in " the Majesty of His Power," not in " the Greatness of His Mercy,  but sometimes in the shape of a cat ; and once as a "cup," which she kicked to pieces. After these mad assertions she called together a meeting of her followers, that these wonderful delusions might be discussed and explained. The whole assembly witnessed the following document : I, Joanna Southcott, am clearly convinced that my calling is of God, and my writings are indited by his spirit ; it is impossible for any spirit but an all-wise God that is wonderous in working, wonderous in wisdom, wonderous in power, wonderous in truth, could have brought round such mysteries so full of truth, as is in my writings : so I am clear in whom I have believed, that all my writings come from the spirit of the most High God.
JOANNA SOUTHCOTT.

Signed in the presence of fifty-eight persons (including Methodist preachers) who assented to the truth of the statement. 

Joanna, in 1792, assumed the titles of "The Bride;" " The Lamb's Wife ;" " The Woman clothed with the Sun ;" and intimated that in process of time she would become the mother of Shiloh, the second Messiah!

From this time innumerable converts attached themselves to her, each of whom contributed to the ways and means, making Joanna's finances ample for a luxurious mode of life.
 
One day, while sweeping out her employer's shop in Exeter, she found a seal with J. S. engraved upon it ; this she annexed, and hundreds of its impressions in wax were sold and worn as charms by her devotees. These " beatitudes" were purchasable at from twelve shillings to a guinea each.

The Joanna Southcottians swore never to shave until Shiloh came, and in consequence their beards grew to an enormous length. They were known as "The Bearded Men," and were a terror to children. Mrs. Sabatier of Exeter, was so shocked at Joanna's strange errors and blasphemies that she addressed a letter to her, in the hope of leading her to see the folly and wickedness of her teaching. She requested replies to the following questions.

1st. Does the voice reveal things, or enforce doctrines such as could not possibly have been discovered without the aid of this new revelation ?

2nd. Are all these things utterly free from error or contradiction ?

3rd. Are they of general importance and evident utility ?

4th Have any events followed these predictions that lay beyond the reach of human forecast ?

To these queries Joanna sent an incoherent reply : her letter will give a fair idea of the mental capacity of the writer, as well as a pretty accurate idea of the woman's religious teaching.
 
EXETER, June 20th, 1799.
 
UNNOWN FRIEND,
 
I shall answer your faithful letter with That Sincerity it deserves. I am a Constant member of the Church of England, but the Cruel usage I have met with from the Arch Deacon Moor, and some other Ministers made me not frequent St. Peter's. I have written to them Several letters, of the Greatest Blasphemy, that ever was wrote, if it was not, of God, for which they never reproved me neither would they here Me, to Know on what Grounds I had for my faith or fears. Now to your enquiries. The wind bloweth were it listeth, ye here the Sound thereof, but cannot tell from wence it cometh, or wither it goeth. So is every one born of the Spirit. Your first enquiry I answer possitively, it is impossible for Man by learning to find out what has been revealed to Me by the Spirit of inspiration concerning the Mistrys of the Bible. Your Second enquiry I answer. It is all to one purpose, what God designed at first, it is explained to Me, he will accomplish at last. Now cometh the fullfillment of the Gentiles, and the calling of the Jews, by the fullfillment of the Revelations, will the Jews be called Chaptr 12, 19, and the last. Thirdly, they are of general importance to all Mankind, they for the Condecension of the Lord to explain why he has done all things is explained to Me. Fourthly, I answer to the events that has followed. In 1792 I was fore told what was coming upon the whole earth, perfect As I then wrote, it has followed in this Nation and others, and they, for the End is not yet. Another thing. I am told what is in the Hearts and thoughts of Men Concerning Me. And how Ministers would act before I send them a letter. In 1792 I wrote of the Dearth of Provisions, the Distresses, of the Nations, and the War with France and Spain, it is too tedious mention all the particulars. I put in the hand of the Revd. Mr. Pumroy, in the begininng of 1797, what would happen in Italy, and perfect as it has happened, in England ever since. I may say no great event has happened, but what I am told of it before, and what is to happen before Christ peaceable Kingdom is established. I am at a Losst to account for the words saying others write for me. Do you mean I cannot write at All ? All my writings are in my own hand, but when I send to Ministers, I have some one to copy them out for Me, as I cannot Write a fair hand for others to read. I believe I have answered most of your enquirys as far as a Letter will permit, if you think proper to make known yourself, I am willing to lay every truth before you, and how these things came to me at first.
 
I am yonr sincere Friend,
JOANNA SOUTHCOTT.
P.S. Please direct at Mr. Taylor's Cabinet Maker Exeter.
 
As late as 1860 a few of her disciples were living at Exmouth, Sidmouth, Sidbury, Sidford, and Exeter, each expecting Joanna's return to life and the fulfilment of her expectations.
 
On Monday, December 2oth, 1814, Joanna died in London. A post mortem examination proved that a tumour was the cause of death. A prophecy of hers published in 1792, declared that the mother of Shiloh, previous to his birth, would be as one dead for four days, and at the end of that period would revive and the babe would be born.
 
In the Yorkshire Weekly Post, for November 18th, 1898, I read the following paragraph, which seems to me to be an interesting link with the past. " An elderly man who calls himself ' Judge Milton,' and ' The Promised Shiloh,' has again made his appearance in the Wakefield district. The old man contends that he is entitled to house property near East Ardsley, built by the late Prophet, John Wroe, a leader of the followers of Joanna Southcott." Perhaps the following may be interesting, as shewing specimen of the Hymns used at Joanna's Meetings.

I have said already, thou shalt have a son,
Ere he can speak, all this shall sure be done,
Great peace in England after this shall be
Because the remnant shall believe in me, &c.
 
The woman clothed with sun,
Should make all nations quake,
For now the mystery I'll explain,
The Revelation break.
 
It is the Son that shall be born,
Fatal to those that do him scorn ;
Because that I'll uphold his land,
That doth depise the Infant's birth.

Collected from Notes and Gleanings, Exeter, 1892, and Memoirs of Religious Impostors, by Dr. M. Ackin, LL.D., London, 1821, and other sources.

Hewett 1900


Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

Bampfylde-Moore Carew - the so called "King of the Gypsies"

[I cant help thinking that for some Gadjo English aristocrat to waltz in and declare himself "King" of the gypsies must have been pretty insulting to the Roma in England at that time, who where and are often quite a close knit community by necessity. I may be wrong, but I doubt he was king of many Gypsies]

Bampfylde-Moore Carew By Richard Phelps (died 1790) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


"Bampfylde-Moore Carew was the son of the Rev. Theodore Carew, rector of Bickleigh, Tiverton, Devon. Born, July 12th, 1690. At the age of twelve he was entered as a pupil at Old Blundell's School, Tiverton, where he formed the acquaintance of the sons of the best families in the county. At first he gave close application to study, and bid fair to make his mark in the world. His father had every reason to hope that at some future time he would succeed to the family living of St. Mary, Bickleigh. Blundell's scholars at this period possessed a fine pack of fox-hounds, and Carew took frequent opportunities to indulge in sport at the expense of his studies. Besides strength of body and vigour of mind he possessed agility of limb, and a voice of such depth of sound that he could give the loudest halloo to the hounds of any man of his day. Dogs were attracted to him in a marvellous fashion, and in after years this mutual sympathy proved disastrous to our hero, who on this account suffered imprisonment several times.
 
It happened one day that a farmer coming to Tiverton market saw Carew standing at the school gateway, and knowing the latter's fondness for sport, acquainted him with the fact that a deer, with a collar around his neck, was harbouring in a field on Exeter Hill ; whereupon Carew, Martin, Escott, Coleman, and a crowd of other Blundellians started to hunt it. This happened just before corn-harvest. The chase was hot and lasted several hours ; they ran the deer many miles across fields of ripening grain, doing great damage. The deer proved to be a tame one, the property of Col. Nutcombe, of Clayhanger. Persons who sustained damage to their corn, complained to the headmaster of the havoc made. The culprits were so severely threatened that several absconded, Carew being one of the number. They made for a small wayside inn at Brickhouse, on the Bampton road, situated about a half-a-mile from the town. Here they fell in with a party of gipsies and remained in their company the whole night, engaging in the wildest orgies. In the morning they were admitted as Romany members, each taking the necessary oaths and going through the requisite ceremonies.
 
It may be interesting to the reader to know that a recruit goes through various rites and takes certain oaths before being admitted a member of the fraternity.
 
A new name must be assumed, after which he takes the following oaths

I, Bampfylde-Moore-Carew (or as the case may be), do swear to be a true brother; to obey the commands of the tawny prince ; to keep his counsel ; not to divulge the secrets of the brotherhood ; will never leave the company ; and observe and keep all times of appointment by night or by day, in every place whatsoever.

I will not teach anyone to cant, nor will I disclose our mysteries to them. [This was broken then!]
 
I will take my prince's part against all that shall oppose him or any of us.
 
I will not suffer him, or any of us, to be abused by strangers, but will defend him or them to the death. I will not conceal aught I win out of private houses or elsewhere, but will give it for the benefit and use of all the company, &c.

Carew was an actor of the highest type, as is evidenced by the numberless opportunities he embraced to personate the leading men of the neighbourhood in which he found himself. By assuming the garb of a. peasant, a beggar, an old woman, a soldier in distress, a maimed sailor, or whatever guise his fertile fancy dictated, he successfully deceived even his nearest relatives and wrung from them entertainment, gifts of money, clothes and any commodity he demanded.

On the death of Claude Patch, the king of the gipsies, Carew was, by a large majority of the brotherhood, elected his successor. He at once took up the government, but ran his kingly power on totally different lines from the former sovereign. Instead of living in idleness and luxury, depending on the members of the tribe for support, he started off on a round of adventure.

The knavish tricks and deceptions he successfully practised on his nearest relations and most intimate friends would be too numerous to chronicle in these pages. A Life of Bampfylde-Moore Carew, can, I think, be obtained at any bookseller's, and to lovers of humorous incidents would prove amusing.

Carew married about the year 1720, a Miss Gray, daughter of an apothecary, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, at Bath.

They had one daughter who married a Westcountry squire, by whom she had a numerous family of promising children.

After a life of beggary, adventure, and imprisonment, Carew returned to his birthplace at Bickleigh, where he resided two years previous to his death in 1758."

Hewett 1900


Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

The wonderful con of Cariboo, or Princess Javasu AKA Mary Willcocks of Witheridge

[This next section of Sarah Hewett's book is entitled "peculiar and eccentric Devoninans. I couldnt deside whether this constituted folklore or not.  While they are of real histories I think they are linked to places and retold in relation to those places (I have told of this story in Bristol to a friend!).  The people are often 'folk' - their fame coming from legend rather than importance to the aristocratic orientated history books. Therefore I will include them, but rather than brake each one up into parts and keyword it all I have posted them all as one so as to take up minimal space.]

Princess Javasu, Cariboo, Mary Willcocks... By The book's text by JF Nicholls (d. 1883) and John Taylor (d. 1893). Death dates citation: doi:10.1093/library/s1-V.1.86. Images by unknown engravers, and thus are PD due to age, per the relevant British legislation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


"THIS clever unscrupulous woman was born of poor but respectable parents at Witheridge, North Devon, on November 11th, 1792. Her father, Thomas Willcocks, was a shoemaker. His daughter Mary, being of a wild disposition, objected to the restrictions of school life, hence she received little or no education, and at eight years of age was employed in spinning wool. The manufacture of woollen yarns was at this time the staple industry of the district. Athletics had a strong attraction for Mary, who, before she was eighteen years of age, excelled all the village youths in cricket, playing at bowls, swimming, and fishing. As a domestic servant she was invaluable, and this must be said to her credit, that whatever she undertook she did well and intelligently, giving undivided attention to the minutest details. From her sixteenth to twenty-second year she lived in service at Witheridge, Exeter, Taunton, and in the neighbourhood of London. Fond of finery she applied all her wages to the purchase of smart attire, and when on a visit to her parents she made great display of it, to the disgust of her father who said, "'twadden vitty vor the likes o' she to be fettled up in such fal-lals and fantisheeny clothes." When he insisted that a certain smart white frock should be taken off, Mary refused to obey him, whereupon a quarrel arose which ended in her father taking the matter up in a furious temper, and beating her severely with a leathern strap. After this she decamped and was never seen again at Witheridge. While living with Mrs. Hillier, a fishmonger at Billingsgate, she met a man called Bakerstendt or Bickerstein, whom she is supposed to have married after only two months' acquaintance.

Whether she was married to this foreigner, or whether he seduced and afterwards deserted her, has not been clearly ascertained. There is little doubt, but that it was from him, who had probably associated with Malays or was acquainted with their language, that she picked up the Eastern words and idioms she used, as well as that knowledge of some Asiatic customs which so effectually enabled her to effect her imposition.

A year after her marriage (?) we find her living at Bristol with Eleanor Josephs. At first she did not pretend to be a foreigner, until one day she dressed herself in a turban, and went into the streets shouting at the top of her voice an unknown lingo. This was her first attempt to palm herself off as a stranger in a strange land.

On Thursday evening, the 3rd of April, 1817, the overseer of the parish of Almondsbury, near Bristol, called at the residence of Mr. Samuel Warrall, a magistrate, to inform him that a young woman, speaking a foreign language, had entered a cottage in the village, and made signs that she wished to sleep under its roof. A manservant in the house knew several languages, therefore the woman was brought before him, but appeared not to understand a word he said. Her dress consisted of a black stuff gown, with a white muslin frill around the neck, a black cotton shawl fantastically arranged about her head, and a red checked shawl loosely and tastefully put on her shoulders in imitation of Asiatic costume.
The general impression from her manners and person was attractive and prepossessing. In height about 5ft. 2in., she had a small head, low forehead, black hair and eyes, short nose, pink cheeks, wide mouth, white gleaming teeth, lips large and full, a small round chin, and an olive complexion. Her hands were well formed, and so white that one would suppose they were unaccustomed to labour. Age about twenty-five years.

When offered food she covered her face with her hands, and appeared to repeat a prayer, bowing her head at the conclusion.

Mrs. Warrall took compassion on her loneliness and received her into her house as a guest. Upon being shewn books of travel, she intimated that the one descriptive of China was the country from which she came. Mrs. Warrall began to have suspicions that the woman was an impostor, and talked very seriously to her, begging her to speak the truth of herself. She pretended not to understand a word, and addressed Mrs. Warrall in her own tongue. Mrs. Warrall wrote her name upon paper, pronouncing it several times as she placed it before her, hoping that the woman would reveal her own, which she did by crying out "Caraboo ! Caraboo !" pointing to herself.
Upon some furniture being shewn to her, inlaid with Chinese figures, Caraboo made signs that they belonged to her country. She then drew the following chart of her voyage to Europe :



Her father's country was Congee (China), her mother's was Batavia, her own, Javasu, of which she was the princess. Hereafter she was known as Caraboo, or the Princess Javasu. For several months she lived this picturesque lie. One gentleman who had made several voyages to the East Indies took great interest in her, and in the warmth of his anxiety to discover her history probably assisted her to emphasise more distinctly the imposture on the good people of Bristol and Bath.
She marked time by tying knots on a string in a peculiar manner, and by this means pointed out the periods and distances of her voyage. She said that in Congee they wrote with a camel's hair brush or pencil and Indian ink. Here are a few of the signs she employed, which are simply Arabic characters which she might have found among Beckerstein's papers.



The gibberish language in which she made herself understood, was aided by gestures and animation of countenance which it is impossible to describe. It is singular that during her residence at Knowle, Bath, and Bristol she was never heard to pronounce a word of English. She had an astonishing command of countenance and complete self-possession. A gentleman tried to move her by flattery : he drew his chair close to hers, looked steadily and smilingly in her face, and said : "You are the most beautiful creature I ever beheld. You are an angel." Not a muscle of her face moved, no blush suffused her cheek, and her countenance was a blank.
The bubble, however, was on the eve of bursting. 

Dr. Wilkinson, of Bath, determined to probe the mystery, and after making exhaustive enquiries about her, of persons with whom she was known to have lodged previous to her arrival at Almondsbury, discovered that she was none other than the veritable daughter of Thomas Wilcocks, the Witheridge shoemaker.

After this, the exposure of the deception practised on Mrs. Warrall was speedy and decisive. Mrs. Warrall went alone into a room with Caraboo, and told her of the damning proofs she had obtained of her being an impostor. She again tried in her gibberish to interest her benevolent friend by saying, "Caraboo, Toddy Noddy," etc., but could not succeed.
Hereupon she acknowledged the cheat and begged that her parents should not be sent for. This was promised on condition that she would make a clean breast of the whole imposture and give details of her former life, to which she readily acceded.
A passage in the " Robert and Ann," under the care of Captain Robertson, was at once procured for her, and taking the name of Mrs. Mary Burgess, she sailed for, and lived many years at, Philadelphia. The day before leaving Bristol she wrote the following letter to Mrs. Warrall, which shewed that Caraboo was not insensible of the great kindness and attention to her comfort and happiness which Mrs. Warrall unweariedly gave her.

This is a verbatim copy :
" HON. MADAM,
Friendship thou charmer of the mind thou sweet deluding ill the brightest moments mortals find and sharpest pains can feel fate has divided all our shares of pleasure and of pain in love the friendship and the cares are mixed and join again the same ingenious author in another place says tis dangerous to let loose our love between the eternal fair for pride that busy sin spoils all that we perform. 
 MARY BAKER."

After several years residence in America she returned to England, and settled at Bristol, about the year 1849, where she and her daughter earned a precarious living by selling and applying leeches, still retaining the assumed name of Mary Burgess, alias Baker. She died at Bristol in 1864.

A vocabulary of a few words with their meanings made use of by Caraboo :
Word: -

Alia Tulla
Samen
Tarsa
Manjintoo
Larger
Juxto
Kala
Anna
Mono
Vellee
Apa
Savee
Ake Brasidoo
Ake Dosi
Ake Sacco
Pakey
Savoo
Fosi
Toose
Mosha
Raglish
Noutee
Zee
Archee
Mo

 Meaning -

God
Heaven
Earth
Gentlemen
Ladies
Doctor
Time
Night
Morning
Bed
Fire
Rain
Come to breakfast
Come to dinner
Come to supper
Child
Knife
Fork
To swim
A man
A woman
An orange
Tea
Potato
Milk
Suso Sugar
Smachi Cayenne
Tamah Fowl
Rampue Pigeon


ODE TO MOLLY BAKER alias PRINCESS CARABOO.
THE two following Jeu d'esprits appeared during the period when this imposture formed the topic of general conversation at Bath and Bristol.

Oh Molly, what a wag thou art
So effectually to play the part
Of wandering, friendless Caraboo,
Bespeaks a talent few could boast
Even from juggling India's coast
But prythee tell me can it all be true ?
If thou when heathen Greek inditing,
Didst rival Rapier in his writing
(So versatile thy nature,
And sweetly plastic every limb)
Like Roland fence, like Dolphin swim,
Thou art indeed an interesting creature.
Wert thou with all the men so shy,
As ev'n thy beauteous hand deny
In common salutation ?
Was there no tender tete-a-tete,
Thy admirers thus to fascinate,
Who puffed thy beauty through the nation ?.
Thy sloe-black eyes, and teeth so white,
(By Nature formed to charm or bite ?)
With lady-airs in plenty
Like opiates all the senses lull'd,
Of reason and of vision gulled,
Th' all-knowing Cognoscenti.
When to the house-top prone to stray,
And would'st to Alla-Tullah pray,
Had'st thou no high priest near thee ?
1 mean not that imperious sun
Of reckless Juggernaut ; but one
Well pleased to assist, and hear thee ?
But where did'st learn (for Heaven's sake)
To swim or dive, like duck or drake
When water-dogs pursue ?
And when for pure ablution quipp'd,
Lurk'd there (as when Godiva stripped)
No peeping Tom or wanton Makratoo ?
Plague on that meddling tell-tale Neale,
Eager thy history to reveal,
And mar the pleasing fable :
Too sudden came the denouement
Which proved thou art from down-along,
Where dumplings grace each table.
" Drat her pug-nose, and treacherous eyes,
Deceitful wretch ;"
the doctor cries,
(No more inclined to flattery)
" When next I meet her (spite of groans)
I'll rive her muscles, split her bones
With my galvanic battery."
But heed him not for on my soul
Whether at Bristol, Bath or Knole,
I admired thy Caraboo.
Such self-possession at command,
The by-play great the illusion grand :
In truth 'twas everything but true.
Then Molly take a friend's advice
(To make thy fortune in a trice),
All wand'ring gypsy tricks resign
Fly to thy proper forte the stage :
Where thou in this half mimic age
Princess of actors would'st unrivall'd shine.
From the Bristol Mirror, June 2ist, 1817.
THE following squib was circulated after the exposure of this arch-impostor's deceptions, throughout Devon and Somerset.

CARABOO.

OH ! young Caraboo is come out of the west,
In Frenchified tatters the damsel is dressed
And, save one pair of worsted, she stockings had none,
She tramped half unshod, and she walked all alone :
But how to bamboozle the doxy well knew ;
You ne'er heard of gipsy like young Caraboo.
She staid not for river, she stopt not for stone,
She swam in the Avon where ford there was none :
But when she alighted at W gate,
The dame and the doctor received her in state.
No longer a gipsy, the club of bas-bleu
To a princess converted the young Caraboo.
So boldly she entered the W hall,
Amongst linguists, skull-feelers, bluestockings and all.
Sure never a hall such a galliard did grace,
When she fenced with the doctor, so queer her grimace.
But her host seemed to fret though the doctor did fume
Should any to question her titles presume.
And 'twas currently whispered the best they could do,
Was to send up to London the young Caraboo.
The hint was enough ; as it dropt on her ear
It ruined her hopes ; it awakened her fear.
So swift to the quay the fair damsel she ran ;
" Oh ! take me, dear captain, away if you can."
She's aboard they are off; "Farewell, Dr. Rampoo,
They'll have swift ships that follow," quoth young Caraboo.
There was bustling 'mong dames of the W clan,
The blue-stocking junto they rode and they ran,
There was racing and chasing from Bath to the sea,
But the bright Queen of Javasoo ne'er could they see,
What a hoax on the doctor and club of bas-bleu,
Did you e'er hear of gipsy like young Caraboo ?
Then spake the sage doctor, profoundly absurd,
While the sly Caraboo answered never a word :
" Art thou sprung from the moon, or from far Javasoo,
Or a mermaid just landed, thou bright Caraboo ?"
To these questions sagacious she answer denied,
Though hard was her struggle the laughter to hide,
But since they decree me these titles so fine
I'll be silent, eat curry, and taste not their wine ;
With this imposition I've nothing to do,
These are fools ready made, said the young Caraboo.
She looked at a pigeon the dame caught it up ;
Caraboo had a mind on a pigeon to sup ;
She looked down to titter she looked up so sly
With the bird in her hand, and the spit in her eye :
She dressed it she ate it she called it Rampoo.
This proves, swore the doctor, she's Queen Caraboo.
H. C. S.
Notes and Queries, June 3rd, 1865."

Hewett, 1900


Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Seven Years Bad Sex - some very local lore

Me and a pint...  If you want to use my photos please attribute this blog
[Watching US president Barak Obama drinking guiness in Eire I was reminded of a comedic bit of very local lore amongst some of my friends in Chagford - I dont know when it started, but I have known about it for at least 5 years.

Despite being made up (I think) by someone in my group of friends it has persisted and spread, and has roots that dangle freely in the cultural aquifer of our folklore. It has led to very pantomime staring into peoples eyes... It is this -

If you do not look the person in the eyes that you are saying 'cheers' to over a pint you are condemned to seven years bad sex.

Poor Obama....]

Maypoles Galore! [work in progress]

[Note:  Many of these sources are still in copyright - however if my understanding of UK copyright law is correct the facts contained in them cannot be copyrighted, only the exact words, structure, images or layout (in these respects this page is unique and original, or using public domain images). As a mark of thanks and to add interest I have included a link to my sources.  If you own one of the sites or books I have used and do not want me to link to you please say, and I shall remove it.  If anyone wants to link to me I would be delighted!

I have also been very strict with dates - most of these places have had Maypoles erected for many many other years as well.

Where Maypoles have been used -

Cornwall

Brown Willy (Bron Wenelly, or Swallow Hill), 2010 (Here)

Bude, 2011 (Here)

Crealy, 2008 (Here)

Grade-Ruen, 2009 (Here)

Helston, ? (Here)

Mawnan Smith, ? (Here)

Millpool, 2008 (Here)

Padstow, 1923 (Here)
Padstow, 1935 (Here)
Padstow, 1980 (Here)
Padstow, 2004 (Here)
Padstow 2005 (Here)
Padstow, 2006 (Here)
Padstow, 2007 (Here)

Paul, ? (Here)

Penryn, ? (Here)

Saltash, 2011 (Here)

Troon, 1981 (Here)

West Loe, 2010 (Here)

Devon

Awliscombe, 2009, (Here)

Belstone, 2010 (Here)


Denbury, 2011 (Here)

High Willheys, 2009 (Here, and Here)

Honicknowle, Plymouth, 1934 (Here)

Ilfracombe, 1999-2011 (Here)

Kingsteignton, ? (from a friend)

Lustleigh, -2010 (from a friend)

Malborough, 1994 (Here)

Meavy, 2004 (Here)
Meavy, 2011 (Here)

Moretonhampstead, 1981 (Here)

North Bovey, 2011 (Here)

Parracombe, 2008 (Here)

Shaldon, 2011 (Here)

Sticklepath, 2009 (Here)
Sticklepath, 2010 (Here)

Stoke Gabriel, 2010 (Here)

Tavistock, ? (Here)

Tiverton, 2009 (Here)
Tiverton, 2010 (Here)

Torrington, 2010 (Here)

Widecombe-in-the-Moor, 2008 (Here)

Woodbury, 2011 (from a friend)

Dorset

Abbotsbury, 2006 (Here)

Bridport, 2005 (Here)
Bridport, 2008 (Here)
Bridport, 2011 (Here)
Bridport, 2012 (Here)

Buckhorn Weston, ? (Here)

Cern Abbas, ? (Here)

Colehill, 2000 (Here)
Colehill, 2001 (Here)

Durweston, 1920's (Here)
Durweston, 1958 (Here)
Durweston, 1961 (Here)
Durweston, 1971 (Here)
Durweston, 2008 (Here)
Durweston, 2009 (Here)
Durweston, 2010 (Here)
Durweston, 2011 (Here)

Fontmell Magna, 1904 (Here)
Fontmell Magna, 1960 (Here)

Glanvilles Wootton, 1909 (Here)

Gussage All Saints, 2009 (Here)

Litton Cheney, 2005 (Here)

Loders, 2007 (Here)
Loders, 2008 (Here)

Milton Abbas, 2009 (Here)

Monkton Wylde, 2003 (from Lunar Hine)

Puddletown, 2006 (Here)

Shaftsbury, 2010, (Here)

Shillingstone, 1929 (The Folklore Calendar by George Long)

Stalbridge, 2010 (Here)

Sturminster Marshal, 1669 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 1867 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 1897 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 1986 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2003 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2004 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2007 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2008 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2009 (Here)
Sturminster Marshal, 2011 (Here)

Weymouth, 1977 (Here)
Weymouth, 2004 (Here)
Weymouth, 2005 (Here)

Winterbourne Houghton, 2006 (Here)
Winterbourne Houghton, 2007 (Here)

Winterbourne Strickland, 2006 (Here)

Somerset (incl. Bath and Bristol)

Allerford, ? (Here)

Buckland St Mary, ? (Here)

Butleigh, 1906 (Here)

Dunster, ? (Here)

Earth Spirit, Dundon, 2011 (from a friend)

Iron Acton, ? (Here)

Selworthy, ? (Here)

Shepton Beauchampe, 2011 (Here)

South Horrington, 1960-1980 (Here)

Wells, 1970-1990, 2009 (Here)

Weston, 2011 (Here)

Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol, early 1980's (from my memory)

Yeovil, ? (from The Faery Folklorist)



Almost all of these are not of the type one might have found in medieval times, but they come from the same root, merely taking on addornments and styles of the late 19th / early 20th century. I would argue that this is an extencion of the long shaddow of the maypole, cast through pagan and christian and athiest eras. Comunity, dance, music and weird wyrd still, as always, weave a compelling and entrancinfg dance. The deaper and wider the roots, the stronger the tree. I hope the Mayday bankholiday is retained - even if it is not Mayday will continue, but perhaps not in the vibrant comunity binding way it does to this day, and has done for millenia.

Of course Maypoles in this form are not the only markers of mayday - plenty of other places and people mark this turning of the year. I am merely reflecting in this post one angle of this verdant moment in our collective calendar. 

I have done a separate map for maypole sitings - accessed here.

If you know of other maypoles please comment bellow... ]

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Harry Trewin and his leather trowsers - Chagford

Sheep Skin - this one is cured! - By Dina Wakulchik from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (Sheep skin for sale too :)) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


"At the beginning of the present century the small boys of Chagford made the streets resound with shouts of this quaint old rhyme :

Old Harry Trewin
Had no burtches to wear,
So he stawl a ram's skin
Vur to make en a pair :
Wi' the woolly zide out,
And the fleshy zide in,
They sticked purty tight
To old Harry Trewin."


[I have studied this fragment a little, and found it is part of a much larger family of folk tunes (Roud Folksong index no. 294).  I found local variations, including one from Chagfords 'rival'  Moretonhampstead.  I would publish the long peice I wrote on it, but I am saving it up for a book I am going to publish on the Folklore of Chagford...]



Stones for each month

Garnet, for constancy - By Ra'ike (see also: de:Benutzer:Ra'ike) (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

"In love's calendar there is a special gem or stone for each month in the year : and what true lover should be without this necessary information?

January is represented by the garnet           constancy.
February                               amethyst       sincerity.
March                                   bloodstone    courage.
April                                     diamond        innocense.
May                                      emerald        success in love.
June                                      agate             long life.
July                                       chameleon     contented mind.
August                                  sardonyx        married happiness.
September                            chrysolite       clearness of intellect.
October                               opal               fortunate.
November                            topaz             fidelity.
December                            turquoise        prosperity."

Hewett 1900

[Not sure if Hewett is recording something peculiarly Devonian, or whether this was more widespread in her era...]

Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Save May Day Bankholiday! Create a maypole forest....

[I have had an idea to help with the campaign to save the May Day / Beltane bank holiday.  Its not entirely Westcountry, but is about keeping our strong traditions healthy...

I was inspired by some train shaped bunting/petition to come up with my own small act of ‘craftivism’ – using artistic and crafty means to be an active person politically.

I realised, prompted by an old early childhood memory, that maypoles have been casting their long shadows over Britain in perhaps more profusion than many people realised – When I asked around most people had encountered a maypole in some form or other. I want to some how show this visually to those who will decide on the future of May Day bank holiday.

At the moment I am thinking of a large board, either with the outline of Britain burned on to it or pasted on in map form.  I would then drill holes into the board everywhere there was a maypole and put in a short twig. Hopefully most of Britain would be forested. Al the ones that had been used in the 21st century I would tie a brightly coloured thread around.

This whole thing would then be given to the relevant political person as a physical demonstration of the popularity of the concept of May Day.  I would deliver it next May Day (2012).

This is where I need help –

Firstly if other people think this is a good idea we could regionalise it (saving me a lot of work!) and, after deciding on a scale create a sort of jigsaw map that could be fitted together (I bagsie the Westcountry – Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset!).

Secondly, if you have ever seen a maypole, tell me where and when! The more I can locate the more impressive the map will look…

And thirdly – tell me your thoughts on the whole idea! – Positive, negative – I can take it! (For instance I am not sure if Maypoles are a big thing in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales – I know Beltane is, but does it involve maypoles? As the plans at the moment are only to scrap Mayday Bank holiday in Wales and England should I leave Scotland and Northern Ireland out?).

I hope we can retain the right to holiday on this most ancient of festivals.

Please share this with friends..]

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Searching for westcountry may poles

[A few days ago I recalled a half formed memory - at the place I used to go to woodcraft folk and pre-school in the 1980's in Bristol (Windmill Hill City Farm) there was a tall wooden maypole in the outside play area - we where always told to keep away (I think it was a bit old and rotten).

This (and the need to protect May Day) prompted me to put together a post of where and when there were Maypoles in the Westcountry... If anyone could help by commenting here I would be very grateful...

I think they are more widespread than people realise.]

A random Devon anecdote about non-violent military

Caricature of Lord Chesham. Caption read "Imperial Yeomanry" 1900 from Vanity Fair - via Wikipedia

"I mind'th piirty well Squire Nathkit's gramfer what used tii live tii Pynes, he waz Cappen ov the Yawmen Cathery. They varmer's zins what weared urd jackets and vound their awn 'osses. Well, when theyse sodgers was out tii practice down tii Exmouth, zome o'the stiipid twoads got tarnashun wopper-eyed and by gor ! ef they didden vail tii fighting. Jist then Cappen Nathkit corned along, and zaid, ses 'e "What be yii fellers adiiing ov ? Vighting be 'e ? Aw zes 'e, I'll tellee 'bout that then liikee zee yer yii baggering twoads, I'll be blamed if I'll 'ave any fighting men in my regiment git out o't, I tellee." That there's so true as the gospel, I tellee tez then !"

Hewett 1900

Map - Exmouth

Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

Friday, 6 May 2011

Another Devon Wife Sale

Wife sale from 1820 book (via wikipedia)

"From the Western Morning News, March 9th, 1894.

As recently as September, 1873, the following attempted sale of a woman took place in Devonshire. At - -..." [a pity, I would have liked to know where...] "...a young woman, the wife of a man named Phillips, who was said to have left her and his creditors together, and gone to Australia, was the interesting article submitted at the sale of his goods and chattels to competition. The wife's conduct seems to have had a great deal to do with Phillips's disappearance.

On Saturday, Phillips's goods were sold, and the wife claimed a portion of the proceeds, and told the auctioneer he must either share the money with her or sell her. This seems to have called forth the sympathy of a bystander who volunteered to take the role of auctioneer. A halter was borrowed from a neighbour, and the woman was led into the market-place accompanied by a crowd of persons. No bidders, however, seemed to be amongst them, and the woman was obliged to be content. This disgraceful scene was witnessed by a very large number of spectators."

Hewett 1900

Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

A Devon Wife Sale, 1810-1811, Near Plymouth

1820 Wife Sale caricature - from  A.H. Phillips Georgian Scrapbook (1949) - page 123

"RECEIVED of Edward Salter the sum of four pounds ten shillings for goods received and chattels, a bay mare, and also Mrs. Smale, as parting man and wife.

Agreed before witnesses, October l7th, 1810.
 

Witness the mark of
Edward Snow X
James Worth X
Mary Salter X
Edward Salter X


Settled the whole concern by the mark of John Smale X
 

£4 l0s. 0d.

THE SEQUEL.

ON Thursday, May 15th, 1811, the buyer made application to the Plymouth magistrates, stating the circumstances of the case, and that John Smale wanted his wife back again, notwithstanding that he the said buyer liked her very much, and did not wish to part with her.

The magistrates told him he had no legal claim to the woman, and advised him to give her up to her husband, to which he very reluctantly consented. In these good old times when a man grew tired of his wife, it was not an unfrequent practice to put a halter round her neck and offer her in the nearest market place for sale, she tamely submitting to the indignity. Possibly she was glad to obtain release from an unamiable spouse by such easy means. The reader will smile, and say : "Ah ! perhaps so," but such things do not happen in this more enlightened age."

Hewett 1900

Map - Plymouth

Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New wares for sale!

[Please excuse me for putting my wares up here as well as Folklore. I hope it doesnt detract from this site for anyone.

Pixie Doors

I have just made some hazel Pixie Doors (more about them here) and want to show them off a bit.

The idea is that you can place them on a skirting board or door to show that Pixies (or pisceys - or indeed any form of the wee folk) are welcome to come and go as they please in your house. Here is some related lore.]

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A cry from Coombe Martin

Coombe Martin - Jill Everington [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

"One day as a tourist was walking through this village he heard a man make the following announcement -

Thes es tii gie notice that down by tha say (sea) liveth a old dummun that zills glide zoura (vinegar) dree appince a nuggin, what Ciime* vokes liketh tii lappee kale wi'.

* Coomb folks like to eat with cabbage. "Kale" is the local name for cabbage."

Hewett 1900

Map - Coombe Martin

Nummits and crummits; Devonshire customs, characteristics, and folk-lore

[My quick translation- "This is to give notice that down by the sea lives an old ?Devon Man? that sells ?good? vinegar, three pence a portion, which Coombe folk like to eat cabbage with." - Please enlighten me if you know better, especially with the words 'dummun', 'glide' and 'nuggin'... ]