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English Folktales


Aylesbury Black Dog

The following story which appeared in English Fairy and Other Folk Tales by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890], concerns ‘a man who lived at a village near Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire. This man was accustomed to go every morning and night to milk his cows in a field, which was some distance from the village. Read More »

Bardney Abbey

Bardney Abbey

If visiting the home of a Lincolnshire family, someone leaving a door open might be asked the unusual question "Do you come from Bardney?" This is said in a similar tone and meaning to "Were you born in a barn?" elsewhere in the country. The saying has its roots in an old tale about a miraculous occurrence at Bardney Abbey. Read More »

Bearnshaw Tower and Lady Sybil

The 17th century Bearnshaw Tower (or Bernshaw Tower) is said to have collapsed in the 1860's when its foundations were dug away by people hunting for hidden treasure. This pele tower though is best known for its association with a witch, Lady Sybil, who's story below appeared in 'Lancashire Legends' (1873) by John Harland & T T Wilkinson. Read More »

Betty Chidley The Witch

Below is the story of Betty Chidley, originally published in Miss C. S. Burne’s ‘Shropshire Folk-Lore’ and then again in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]. Read More »

Biddenden Maids

Biddenden Maids

Every Easter Monday the village of Biddenden, not far from Staplehurst in Kent, is the scene of old custom, called the Biddenden Maids' Charity. Tea, cheese and bread are given to local widows and pensioners at the Old Workhouse, while the celebrated Biddenden Cakes, baked from flour and water, are distributed among the spectators. Read More »

Bomere Pool

The privately owned Bomere Pool was created through glacial action and is an example of a kettle hole mere. However, there is a story that would have you believe it was created another way. Edwin Sidney Hartland gives the following account of this tradition in his ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ [1890]. Read More »

Bowscale Tarn

Bowscale Tarn is 56 feet deep and during the Victorian era was popular with tourists. According to folklore two immortal fish live in this corrie tarn and depending upon which version of the story you read, they may, or may not have the ability to talk. Read More »

Burscough Priory

Robert Fitz-Henry, Lord of Lathom (Born 1135) founded the Augustinian Burscough Priory around 1190. It was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII circa 1536 and today very little remains of the building. Read More »

Cherry of Zennor

The following story complete with footnotes was entitled ‘The Adventure of Cherry of Zennor (1)’ and appeared in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890] Read More »

Combe Sydenham

Combe Sydenham Hall

Combe Sydenham is associated with a legendary story concerning Sir Francis Drake, and another historical figure, George Sydenham, who has also become the subject of folklore. Read More »

Croydon Hill

Croydon Hill is the scene of a peculiar English Folktale, that may or may not have its root in real events. Whatever the truth of the tale the hill has a reputation of being haunted by unearthly howls, especially on dark and stormy nights, and here is the story to account for this unearthly manifestation: Read More »

Dando and The Wild Hunt

There are many tales to explain the origin of the spectral wild hunt, this one is from the Parish of St Germans in Cornwall. It explains how a priest with low morals became a demon huntsman.

In the medieval period the priest of the parish of St Germans was called Dando. Dando was not a figure of priestly virtue but abused his powers to enjoy earthly delights. Read More »

The Devil's Stone, Shebbear

The stone that lies in the village square to the East of the church is turned every year on November the 5th by local people. The stone is made from a type of quartz not found in the area, measures about six feet by four feet and weighs about a ton. Read More »

Dobb Park Lodge

The following story is taken from ‘The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions’ of Great Britain by John Ingram (1897. 'On the southern slope of a picturesque valley, through which the Washburn pours its waters, stands the ruins of Dobb Park Lodge; a lofty, four-storied mansion of the Tudor period. Read More »

Drum Hill, Little Eaton

There is apparently a legend (or maybe it’s camp fire ghost story) associated with Drum Hill, which is situated on the edge of Little Eaton, although it has undoubtedly been kept alive (and most probably elaborated) by the Scouts and Guides who regularly use the site as a camping ground. Read More »

Elidor and The Golden Ball

This story was first collected by the medieval chronicler Geraldus Cambrensis, and tells of how a young boy lived for a time in the fairy kingdon, until the day he tried to steal one of their belongings. This version is from Joseph Jacob's More Celtic Fairy Tales, 1892. Read More »

Ezekiel Grosse, Rosewarne

The following story concerning Ezekiel Grosse was published in Robert Hunt’s 1864 ‘Popular Romances of the West of England’ and again in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]. Read More »

Fairy Ointment

Once upon a time there was, in this celebrated town [Tavistock], a Dame Somebody, I do not know her name, and as she is a real character, I have no right to give her a fictitious one. All I with truth can say, is, that she was old, and nothing the worse for that; for age is, or ought to be, held in honor as the source of wisdom and experience. Read More »

Gormire Lake & White Mare Crag

Surrounded by the dense Garbutt Wood, Gormire Lake is the result of glacial activity and is one of the few natural lakes in Yorkshire. Gormire Lake has a few little known gems of folklore attached it. One tale involves a witch who was being chased across the moor. Read More »

Grassington Bargest

The following story was published in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890], under the title ‘Billy B---‘s Adventure’ and Robert Hunt’s 'Popular Romances of the West of England' was cited. Read More »

The Green Children of Woolpit

Woolpit Village Sign

This story was told by medieval writers (Ralph of Coggestall and William of Newbridge), about the discovery of fairy children in the South of England in the twelfth century.There are two versions of the story, one placed in Suffolk and one in Norfolk, with only a small distance separating them. Read More »

Hoghton Tower

Dating from 1560-1565, Hoghton Tower is a Grade I listed fortified manor house situated on the highest hill in the Hoghton area. The following tale by John Roby was published in his ‘Traditions of Lancashire’ in 1872. He refers to it being left to decay and by the middle of the 19th century it was derelict. Read More »

Ince Hall, Ince-in-Makerfield

Ince Hall, wigan

John Roby in his 'Traditions of Lancashire' (1872) relates the following tale which he entitled 'The Haunted Manor House', which he identifies as being Ince Hall in Wigan. As Roby acknowledges, there are a few buildings known as Ince Hall which leads to confusion when trying to identify the exactly where this tale is said to be based. Read More »

Jack o' Legs

This folktale was kindly brought to our attention by Alma Oakley of Weston in Hertfordshire.

Weston churchyard is reputed to be the final resting place of the Weston Giant: Jack o' Legs. Two stones mark his grave. One is positioned at his head and another at his feet, a distance of eight feet apart. Read More »

Joseph Hempsall's Ghost

Here's an interesting piece of Cambridgeshire folklore I found in a book called "Folktales of the Fen Country". Joseph Hempsall was a true born "Fen Slodger". He lived in a small cottage on the Soham side of Wicken Fen during the late 17th century. Every evening Hempsall would cross the fen, known locally as "Big Bog" to drink with his friends at tavern in Wicken. Read More »



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