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Pixie Day, Ottery St Mary

The nearest Saturday to Midsummer's Day is Pixie Day in Ottery St Mary, where school children dressed as Pixies re-enact a legendary tale in which the local fairies tried to silence the church bells before retreating to their cave for another year.

The following story by By Laura Goldsbury-Noy entitled 'OTTERY ST MARY: Pixies get their revenge' was published on the Tindle Newspaper's View From website (25th June 2013).

Hundreds lined the streets of Ottery St Mary for the towns’s annual Pixie Day.

Bringing the town’s traditions alive, the legend of Pixie Day continues to be a much-celebrated event for Ottery St Mary, telling the story of the pixies that once ruled the town.

The legend goes that, refusing to live among the human settlers in the town, it is the last straw when the pixies hear of a church being built on the hill, complete with bells, a sound that pixies cannot bear.

Trying to prevent the church from having the bells , the pixies tried everything in their will to stop the bell ringers by casting a spell on the monks who went to collect the bells from Exeter. The spell caused the monks to carry on past the town towards the sea and Sidmouth, but just as they were about to go over the cliff, a monk standed on a thistle and shouted “God bless my soul and Saint Mary”, breaking the curse.

Having failed, the pixies were defeated and went to live in a cave by the river, but once a year, on Pixie Day, they try to get their revenge by screaming up to the bell tower and capturing the bell ringers, before taking them back to Pixie’s Parlour in the square.

Now one of Ottery St Mary’s most popular events, which raises money for the town’s youth groups, hundreds turned out to support the re-enactment of the pixie’s revenge.

More than 80 of the town’s youngsters from the Ottery St Mary Scout and Guide groups turned out at Coleridge Pre-School to take part, where their faces were painted and they dressed as the naughty pixies.

This year’s chief pixie (2013), Oliver Giles, called the pixies and they ran squealing into the square, circling the crowds before running up the hill to St Mary’s Church to capture the bell ringers, tie them up and bring them back down to the town. 

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