Cranmere Pool

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Cranmere Pool

    The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain by John Ingram (1897)

    In January 1884, Mr. James Spry sent an account to The Western Antiquary, of a supernatural being, popularly known as "Benjie Gear," which long troubled Okehampton and the neighbourhood with its pranks, and even now-a-days occasionally disturbs the good folks thereabouts. There is little in the legend connected with this apparition to distinguish it from many similar bits of folk-lore which crop up in most parts of England, but as a specimen of its class it is worth citation.

    On the high gable end of an ancient house in Okehampton may be seen two gigantic iron letters, the initials of Benjamin Gayer, a former inhabitant. The house may readily be discovered, as it abuts on an irregular triangle formed by the houses behind the chantry. These initials, in italic capitals, are alluded to, in a local metrical version of the legend they commemorate, thus:

    Behind the chantry mote be yred,
    The initial scroll of the burgher dead.
    Stout of heart they esteem the wight
    "Who reads these letters at dead of night;
    Though the moon be glinted back the while
    From the oriel light of the chantry aisle :
    Never pass but breathe a prayer
    For the soul’s best peace on Master Gayer,
    Tcedio vitoz quo confectus
    Nunc ad ozthera transvectus,
    Socius fuit qui sanctorum,
    Ccelu gaudeat angelorum!
    Where life’s troubled waters rest,
    In the haven of the blest.

    Mr. Spry suggests that the citizen thus commemorated may have been almoner of the money collected from the charitable of his time for the ransom of captives in Mohammedan lands, and that he may have appropriated such alms to his own use; hence his unsettled condition in the spirit "world. His reason for this opinion would appear to be this extract u from a note on the history of Okehampton":

    " Mr. B. Gayer, with the philanthropy of a good burgess, as shown in his collections for the relief of poor Protestant prisoners in Turkey, would have been, but for these researches, a dead letter in the book of his little history : but tradition has preserved an ugly report of his own unquiet and imprisoned spirit. What child, or eke man or woman of our town, but has, some time or other, been terrified or amused at the story of Gayer the revenant ? "

    Notwithstanding the statement that this old citizen Btill haunts his native place, he is declared to have been laid some years ago. Mr. Spry’s account is that Benjie Gear troubled the inhabitants of Okehampton to such an extent that "the aid of the Archdeacon was called in, and the clergy were assembled in order that the troubled spirit might be laid and cease to trouble them. There were twenty-three of the clergy who invoked him in various classic languages, but the insubordinate spirit refused to listen to their request. At length one, more learned than the rest, addressed him in Arabic, to which he was forced to succumb, saying, ‘Now thou art come, I must be gone!’ He was then compelled to take the form of a colt; a new bridle and bit, which had never been used, were procured, with a rider, to whom the Sacrament was administered. The man was directed to ride the colt to Cranmere Pool on Dartmoor, the following instructions being given him. He was to prevent the colt from turning its head towards the town until they were out of the Park, and then make straight for the Pool, and when he got to the slope, to slip from the colt’s back, pull the bridle off, and let him go. All this was dexterously performed, and the impetus thus gained by the animal with the intention of throwing the rider over its head into the Pool, accomplished its own fate."

    As the citizens of Okehampton are still somewhat nervous on the score of meeting old "Benjie Gear’s" apparition, the "laying," after all, was, probably, only temporary, or not so well carried out as it should have been.