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Down House, Tavistock


In his 'English Fairy and Other Folk Tales (1890), Edwin Sidney Hartland gives the following account of a ghost story and buried treasure in the Tavistock area.

ABOUT half a mile from Tavistock there is a farm called Down House; the dwelling itself was rebuilt about eleven or twelve years ago. It was considered before an ancient place, and haunted by ghosts. Here is a story of one. The family who resided there well knew the hour of the night in which the ghosts made their appearance, and always took care to go to bed before they came. But it happened on a time that a child was very ill, and asked its mother for water. She went to the pitcher to get some, when the child refused any but such as might be got directly from the pump. The mother became quite distressed, unwilling to displease the child, yet afraid to go down to the pump, as it was about the hour in which the ghost walked. She considered upon it a little while, and at last said: "In the name of God I will go down." She did so. Passing over the stairs she perceived a shadow, and then she heard footsteps; and when she came to the pump she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned and perceived a tall man. Summoning a good resolution, however, she said: "In the name of God, why troublest thou me?" The ghost replied: "It is well for thee that thou hast spoken to me in the name of God; this being the last time allotted me to trouble this world, or else I should have injured thee. Now do as I tell thee, and be not afraid. Come with me, and I will direct thee to a something which shall remove this pump. Under it is concealed treasure."

This something was procured, and applied as the ghost directed. The pump was quickly removed, when under it there lay a great deal of money. She was desired to take up the treasure and stock her farm with it. And the spirit told her that if ever any person molested or deprived her of her property, he would suffer well for it. He then ordered her to go and give the water to the child, who, in reward for her courage and trust in God, should recover. The cock crew; directly the figure dwindled again to a shadow, ascended through the air, and she watched till he soon became a small bright cloud.


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