Whirly Pit, Olney
Oliver Ratcliff gives the following legend concerning this pond in his ‘Olney, Bucks’ Almanack (1907). ‘At the north end of the town there is a pond known as the Whirly Pit. This was supposed to be bottomless and to be fed by some mysterious spring. It is a curious fact that it never show’s any signs of becoming dry. It contains numbers of carp, and it is very probable it was the fish pond to the old castle or monastery that is supposed to have stood in the vicinity. A remarkable story was current which connects the Whirly Pit with Sway Gog – a meadow some distance away in the direction of Weston. One night the Devil was supposed to have approached Olney by the Warrington road, in his chariot drawn by four headless horses. The coachmen were also without heads, while to complete the weird details, the night was dark and the hour that of midnight.
On nearing the town the coachmen drove straight into the Whirly Pit and continued the journey underground by means of a passage extending as far as Goosey Bridge. Here they emerged into the open with such violence that the meadow was seriously disturbed. And even now, if any person stands astride on this meadow, it is said to sway, as if shuddering at the recollection of that fearful night. Several of the details of the above story are to be found in another legend of the Whirly Pit. Here again we have the coach drawn by headless horses. A murder had been committed, followed by an elopement, and the two occupants of the vehicle were on their way from Wellingborough to London, hotly pursued by the avenger. They entered Olney at the north end, and passed up High Street, but instead of continuing along High Street South, the drivers who resembled the horses in being minus their heads, turned up Weston Road into the meadow Sway Gog. Thence by an underground passage they passed to the Whirly Pit, from which they emerged at midnight to continue their journey and make the same mistake as before.