The Roaring Bull of Bagbury
The following story entitled ‘The Roaring Bull of Bagbury’ was published in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ (1890) by Edwin Sidney Hartland. ‘THERE was a very bad man lived at Bagbury Farm, and when he died it was said that he had never done but two good things in his life, and the one was to give a waistcoat to a poor old man, and the other was to give a piece of bread and cheese to a poor boy, and when this man died he made a sort of confession of this. But when he was dead his ghost would not rest, and he would get in the buildings in the shape of a bull, and roar till the boards and the shutters and the tiles would fly off the building, and it was impossible for anyone to live near him. He never came till about nine or ten at night, but he got so rude at last that he would come about seven or eight at night, and he was so troublesome that they sent for twelve parsons to lay him. And the parsons came, and they got him under, but they could not lay him; but they got him, in the shape of a bull all the time, up into Hyssington Church. And when they got him into the church, they all had candles, and one old blind parson, who knowed him, and knowed what a rush he would make, he carried his candle in his top boot. And he made a great rush, and all the candles went out, all but the blind parson’s, and be said: “You light your candles by mine.” And while they were in the church, before they laid him, the bull made such a burst that he cracked the wall of the church from the top to the bottom, and the crack was left as it was for years, till the church was done up; it was left on purpose for people to see. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Well, they got the bull down at last, into a snuff-box, and he asked them to lay him under Bagbury Bridge, and that every mare that passed over should lose her foal, and every woman her child; but they would not do this, and they laid him in the Red Sea for a thousand years.
I remember the old clerk at Hyssington. He was an old man then, sixty years ago, and he told me be could remember the old blind parson well. “But long after the ghost had been laid in the Red Say, folk were always frightened to go over Bagbury Bridge,” said John Thomas. “I’ve bin over it myself many a time with horses, and I always got off the horse and made him go quietly, and went pit-pat, ever so softly, for fear of him hearing me and coming out.”