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Title: Legend Land, Volume 2 - Being a Collection of Some of The Old Tales Told in Those - Western Parts of Britain Served by The Great Western Railway
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Legend Land, Volume 2 - Being a Collection of Some of The Old Tales Told in Those - Western Parts of Britain Served by The Great Western Railway" ***

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G.W.R: The Line to Legend Land.

THE ABBOT'S WAY              Page 24
TAVISTOCK                    Page 20
BRENT TOR                    Page  4
BUCKLAND ABBEY               Page 16
DEAN COMBE                   Page 12

Vol. Two Front End]

       *       *       *       *       *


    Being a collection of some of the _OLD TALES_ told
    in those Western Parts of Britain served by the



        _Published in 1922 by_


  The Church the Devil Stole                       _Page_ 4
  The Parson and the Clerk                                8
  The Weaver of Dean Combe                               12
  The Demon Who Helped Drake                             16
  The Samson of Tavistock                                20
  The Midnight Hunter of the Moor                        24
  The Lost Land of Lyonesse                              28
  The Piskie's Funeral                                   32
  The Spectre Coach                                      36
  St. Neot, the Pigmy Saint                              40
  The Old Man of Cury                                    44
  The Hooting Carn                                       48
  The Padstow May Day Songs (_Supplement_)               52

       *       *       *       *       *

  This is a reprint in book form of the second series of
  _The Line to Legend Land_ leaflets, together with a
  Supplement, "The Padstow May Day Songs."

  The Map at the beginning provides a guide to the localities
  of the six Devon legends; that at the back to those of

       *       *       *       *       *

         _One New Street Square, London, E.C.4_


The western parts of our country are richer in legend than any other
part. Perhaps this is because of the Celtic love of poetry and symbolism
inherent in the blood of the people of the West; perhaps because of
inspiration drawn from the wild hills and bleak moors of the lands in
which they live; perhaps because life is, and always was, quieter there,
and people have more time to remember the tales of other days than in
busier, more prosaic, districts.

Most of the Devon legends cluster around the grim wastes of Dartmoor,
and, like that wonderful stretch of country, are wild and awe-inspiring.
The devil and his wicked works enter largely into them, and there is
reason to believe them to be among the oldest tales known to us.
Possibly they were not new when the hut circles of the Moor were
inhabited and Grimspound was a busy village.

Some of the Cornish stories told in this series, like the story of
Lyonesse and of Parson Dodge and the Spectre Coach, have their beginning
in historical fact; yet into the latter story has been woven a tale that
is centuries older, in origin, than the days of the eccentric priest of

But old tales, like old wine, need nothing but themselves to advertise
them. In their time they have entertained--who can say how many hearers
through the ages? And they are still good--read or told--to amuse as
many more.




Most travellers to the West know queer little Brent Tor, that isolated
church-crowned peak that stands up defiantly a mile or two from Lydford,
seeming, as it were, a sentry watching the West for grim Dartmoor that
rises twice its height behind it. Burnt Tor, they say, was the old name
of this peak, because, seen from a distance, the brave little mountain
resembles a flame bursting upwards from the earth. Others--with less
imagination and perhaps more knowledge--would have us believe that Brent
Tor was once a volcano, and that it really did burn in ages long since.

But the old folk of the neighbourhood care less for the name of their
Tor than for the strange story of the church that crowns its summit.

Ever so long ago, they will tell you, the good folk of the lower lands
around the foot of the hill decided to build themselves a church. They
had long needed one; so long that the Devil, who roamed about Dartmoor,
had begun to consider that such an irreligious community was surely
marked down for his own.

That is why, when he came upon the people one day setting to work to
build a church, he was overcome with fury.

But he seems to have thought it all out carefully, and to have decided
to let them go on for a while, and so, week after week, at the foot of
Brent Tor, the little church grew.

At last it was finished, and the good folk were preparing great
festivities for its dedication when, during one dark autumn night, the
church disappeared.

In the greatest distress they bemoaned their sad plight, but they were
quick to attribute the evil action to the Prince of Darkness, and to
show him that they were not to be intimidated they decided to begin at
once to build another church. Throughout the day they made their plans,
and retired to rest that night determined to start on their pious work
next morning.

But when they woke in the morning they saw with amazement their own
church perched high on the hill above them. The Devil had stolen it, and
to mock the villagers had replaced it on the hilltop, where, he thought,
having dominion over the powers of the air, he would be able to defeat
their designs.

The people, however, thought otherwise. They sent in haste for the
nearest bishop, and with him proceeded to the top of Brent Tor. And,
since St. Michael looks after hilltops, to him they dedicated their

Hardly had the service finished when the Devil, passing by, looked in
to jeer, as he thought, at the foolish folk he had deceived. But on the
summit of the Tor he met St. Michael.

The Archangel fell upon the Evil One and tumbled him straightway down
the hill; then, to make sure of his discomfiture, hurled a huge rock
after him. And there at the base of Brent Tor you may see the very rock
to this day.

If you climb to the top of the hill you will get, on a fine day, one of
the most beautiful views in the West. On one side is Dartmoor in all its
rugged glory; on the other, distant, blue and mysterious, the uplands
of the Bodmin moors.

Lydford, from which you can best reach Brent Tor, is famous for its wild
gorge. It stands on the edge of Dartmoor itself, and from it country of
wonderful beauty may easily be reached. All around are hills and
heather-carpeted moorland; yet a short railway journey will take you
from this far-away village to busy Plymouth, Okehampton, or Launceston,
the border town of Cornwall.

Here, where winds sweep from any direction across great wastes of moor,
or from the sea, health and quiet are to be found more easily than in
any popular holiday resort or fashionable spa.

[Illustration: _Brent Tor Church_]



All real old stories of long ago should begin with "Once upon a time,"
and so, once upon a time there was a Bishop of Exeter who lay very ill
at Dawlish, on the South Devon coast, and among those who visited him
frequently was the parson of an inland parish who was ambitious enough
to hope that, should the good bishop die, he would be chosen to fill his

This parson was a man of violent temper, and his continued visits to
the sick man did not improve this, for his journey was a long and dreary
one, and the bishop, he thought, took an unconscionable time in dying.
But he had to maintain his reputation for piety, and so it happened that
on a winter night he was riding towards Dawlish through the rain,
guided, as was his custom, by his parish clerk.

That particular night the clerk had lost his way, and, long after he and
his master should have been in comfortable quarters at Dawlish, they
were wandering about on the high rough ground of Haldon, some distance
from the village. At last, in anger, the parson turned upon his clerk
and rebuked him violently. "You are useless," he said; "I would rather
have the devil for a guide than you." The clerk mumbled some excuse, and
presently the two came upon a peasant, mounted upon a moor pony, to whom
they explained their plight.

The stranger at once offered to guide them, and very soon all three had
reached the outskirts of the little coast town. Both parson and clerk
were wet through, and when their guide, stopping by an old, tumble-down
house, invited them to enter and take some refreshment, both eagerly
agreed. They entered the house and found there a large company of
wild-looking men engaged in drinking from heavy black-jacks, and singing
loud choruses. The parson and his servant made their way to a quiet
corner and enjoyed a good meal, then, feeling better, agreed to stay for
a while and join their boisterous companions.

But they stayed for a very long while. The drink flowed freely and both
grew uproarious, the parson singing songs with the best of the company
and shouting the choruses louder than any. In this manner they spent the
whole night, and it was not until dawn broke that the priest suggested
moving onward. So none too soberly he called for the horses.

At this moment the news arrived that the bishop was dead. This excited
the parson, who wished at once to get to work to further his ambitious
designs, so he pushed the clerk into the saddle and hastily mounted
himself. But the horses would not move. The parson, in a passion, cried,
"I believe the devil is in the horses!"

"I believe he is," said the clerk thickly, and with that a roar of
unearthly laughter broke out all around them. Then the now terrified men
observed that their boisterous friends were dancing about in glee and
each had turned into a leering demon. The house in which they had passed
the night had completely disappeared, and the road in which they stood
was transformed into the sea-shore, upon which huge waves were breaking,
some already submerging the clerk.

With a wild cry of terror the parson lashed once more at his horse,
but without avail. He felt himself growing stiff and dizzy--and then
consciousness passed from him.

Neither he nor his clerk ever returned to their parish, but that morning
the people of Dawlish saw two strange red rocks standing off the cliffs,
and later, learning this story, they realised that the demons had changed
the evil priest and his man into these forms.

Time and weather have wrought many changes in the Parson and Clerk
Rocks, not the least curious being to carve upon the Parson Rock the
semblance of the two revellers. From certain positions you may see
to-day the profiles of both men, the parson as it were in his pulpit,
and the clerk at his desk beneath him.

The red cliffs around Dawlish make the place peculiarly attractive at
first sight, and the attraction is not lessened by familiarity with the
town. It enjoys the best of the famous South Devon climate; warm in
winter and ever cooled by the sea breeze in summer, it is an excellent
holiday centre. Historic Exeter is close at hand and Dartmoor within
afternoon excursion distance.

[Illustration: "_The Parson and the Clerk_"]



About a mile outside Buckfastleigh, on the edge of Dartmoor, a little
stream, the Dean Burn, comes tumbling down from the hills through a
narrow valley of peculiar beauty. A short distance up this valley a
waterfall drops into a deep hollow known as the "Hound's Pool." How this
name arose is an old story.

According to the legend, hundreds of years ago, there was living in the
neighbouring hamlet of Dean Combe a wealthy weaver named Knowles. He was
famous throughout those parts of Devon for his skill and industry. But
in due course he died and was buried.

On the day after the funeral, hearing a strange noise, Knowles' son ran
to his father's work-room, where, to his alarm, he saw the dead man
seated at his loom working away just as he had done day after day, year
after year, in life. In terror the young man fled from the house, and
sought the parson of Dean Prior.

The good priest was at first sceptical, but he returned with the
frightened man to the house. As soon as the two had entered the door the
parson's doubts vanished, for sure enough, from an upper chamber, came
the familiar, unmistakable sound of the loom at work.

So the parson went to the foot of the staircase and shouted to the
ghostly weaver: "Knowles, come down! This is no place for thee."

"In a minute, parson," came the reply; "just wait till I've worked out
this shuttle."

"No," said the parson, "come thee at once; thou hast worked long enough
on this earth."

So the spirit came down, and the parson led it outside the house. Then
taking a handful of earth, which he had previously secured from the
churchyard, he flung it into the ghost's face, and instantly the weaver
turned into a black hound.

"Now, follow me," the parson commanded; the grim dog obediently came
to heel. The pair then proceeded into the woods, which, so they say, as
soon as the two entered, were shaken by a violent whirlwind. But at last
the priest led his charge to the edge of the pool below the waterfall,
then producing a walnut-shell with a hole in it, handed it to the hound
and addressed it.

"Knowles," he began, "this shows me plainly that in life thou tookest
more heed of worldly gain than of immortality, and thou didst bargain
with the powers of evil. There is but one hope of rest for thee. When
thou shalt have dipped out this pool with the shell I have given thee,
thou shalt find peace, but not before. Go, work out thy salvation."

With a mournful howl that was heard as far as Widdicombe in the Moor,
the hound leapt into the pool to begin its hopeless labour, and there,
exactly at midnight or midday, they say, you may still see it at its

Buckfastleigh is on a branch line that runs up from Totnes, skirting
Dartmoor, to Ashburton. All around is some of the most glorious scenery
in Devon. Buckfast Abbey, founded in 1148 and for centuries a ruin, was
purchased by French Benedictines in 1882, and is now a live and busy
monastery once again.

Just beyond Dean Combe is Dean Prior, a place of the greatest literary
interest, for it was the home of the poet Herrick for many years.

The country all about abounds in objects of beauty and interest, yet is
all too often neglected by the holiday-maker at the neighbouring seaside
towns a few miles away, or the scurrying motorist speeding down along
the Plymouth road.

[Illustration: _Buckfast Abbey_]



All the demons of whom the old folks tell in the West Country were not
evil spirits. Some, like that one who helped Sir Francis Drake, worked
good magic for the benefit of those to whom they attached themselves.

To Drake's demon a number of good deeds are attributed. One story they
tell of him is of those days when the news of the fitting out of the
mighty Spanish Armada had caused a thrill of apprehension to sweep
through the country. The danger that threatened was very great, and
Drake, like all of those who were charged with the safeguarding of our
shores, was vastly worried, although he kept his worries to himself.

And one day, as the story goes, the great admiral was sitting, weighed
down with anxiety, making and remaking his plans, on Devil's Point, a
promontory that runs out into Plymouth Sound. As he was thinking, almost
unconsciously he began whittling a stick. How, he wondered, could he
find enough ships to combat the enormous force the King of Spain was
sending against him?

Looking up from his reverie, at length, across the Sound, he started in
happy surprise, for floating quite close to the shore he saw a number of
well-armed gunboats; each chip that he had cut from the stick having
been so transformed by the magic of his friendly demon.

Later, when Drake had achieved his great victory over the Spaniards,
Queen Elizabeth gave him Buckland Abbey. When he took possession, the
legend goes, there was great need for stables and outhouses, and
building work was set in train at once.

After his first night there, one of Drake's servants was amazed to find
how much building had been done, and, feeling that something unusual
must be going on during the hours of darkness, he secreted himself
in a tree at dusk the next evening to see what happened. There he fell
asleep, but towards midnight he was awakened by the tramp of animals
and the creaking of wheels. Looking down, he saw several ox teams
approaching, each dragging a wagon filled with building materials and
led by a weird spectre form.

As the first team passed by, the spectre, urging the weary beasts on,
plucked from the earth the tree in which the servant was hiding, in
order to beat them. The unfortunate servant was cast to the ground, and,
picking himself up, ran in terror to the house.

His violent fall injured him seriously, and they say that the fright
made him half-witted for the rest of his life. Still, he recovered
sufficiently to tell others of what he had seen, and to explain the
mystery of the miraculous speed with which Buckland Abbey's outbuildings
were constructed.

Buckland Abbey lies between Plymouth and Tavistock, close to the banks
of the pretty River Tavy. Drake built his house there on the site of a
thirteenth-century abbey, some remains of which are still to be found.

Preserved in Buckland Abbey is Drake's Drum, the beating of which in
time of national danger would, so they say, bring the great Elizabethan
sailor back from his ocean grave by the Spanish Main to fight once more
for his country.

Plymouth, the port with which Drake is so closely associated, is a town
brimful of interest, magnificently situated on high ground overlooking
the sea. From famous Plymouth Hoe, the scene of the historic game of
bowls, a view of unequalled charm may be obtained. Out at sea, the
Eddystone Lighthouse is seen, and east and west the rugged shores of the
Sound, always alive with shipping, meet the eye.

And although Plymouth is over 226 miles from London, it is the first
stopping-place of the famous Cornish Riviera Express, which leaves
Paddington each week-morning at 10.30 and arrives at Plymouth only four
hours and seven minutes later.

[Illustration: _Buckland Abbey_]



In the beautifully situated old town of Tavistock there lived, just over
a thousand years ago, a man of huge stature and great strength named
Ordulph, of whom some strange stories are told. Ordulph was the son
of Orgar, the then Earl of Devon, who was the founder of Tavistock's
wonderful old abbey. Some of Ordulph's huge bones may be seen to-day in
a chest in Tavistock church, to which place they were taken when his
gigantic coffin was discovered beneath the abbey ruins many years ago.

As the old stories go, Ordulph used at times to amuse himself by
standing with one foot on either side of the River Tavy, having
previously ordered his men to organise a great drive of wild beasts from
the Dartmoor forests above the town. The animals he caused to be driven
between his legs, while he, stooping down, would slay them with a small
knife, striking their heads off into the running stream.

On one occasion, they say, he rode to Exeter with King Edward of the
Saxons. When the two with their retinue arrived before the city and
demanded admission, there was some delay in throwing open the gates.

This Ordulph took as an affront to the King, and, leaping from his
enormous black charger, he approached the portcullis and with his hand
tore the ponderous thing from its sockets and broke it into small

Then, striding up to the strong iron-bound gates, with a kick he burst
open bolts and bars, and proceeded to lift the gates from their hinges.
After that, with his shoulder he pushed down a considerable portion of
the city walls, then strode across the ruins he had made into the now
terrified city, and bade the alarmed townsfolk to be more careful next
time to receive their King properly, lest worse things should happen to

King Edward, they say, was as much concerned as the citizens of Exeter
about this stupendous exhibition of strength displayed by his companion.
He was fearful at first that so violent a man must be in league with the
devil; but apparently he was satisfied that this was not the case, for
Ordulph lived a very pious life in his latter years, and contributed
large sums to the endowment of the abbey his father had founded.

Tavistock still retains many remains of its once mighty abbey. The town,
situated as it is in a picturesque valley through which the beautiful
Tavy rushes, crystal clear, from the moors, is one of the most
attractive in all Devon. It is the finest centre for exploring the
western part of Dartmoor, for the moorland creeps down to within a short
walking distance of the town itself.

Fine fishing may be had in the neighbouring streams, there is a good
golf course, and the country all around abounds in objects of great
natural beauty and historic interest.

Exeter, the cathedral city which was the scene of Ordulph's Samson-like
feat, is thirty-three miles away by a road that crosses the very heart
of Dartmoor, a wild, beautiful highway that rises in places to well over
1,200 feet; and sixteen-and-a-half miles to the south is Plymouth, from
which Tavistock is easily reached by train.

There are few places in the West Country more attractive than this old
town in the moors, so richly endowed by time and by nature.

[Illustration: _Tavistock Abbey_]



Running across the southern part of the heart of wild Dartmoor is a
very ancient road. "The Abbot's Way" they call it, and antiquaries hold
varied opinions as to when it was made, and even as to where it led to
and from. To-day, much of this old trackway has gone back to nature and
cannot be distinguished from the rugged moorland across which it passes,
but some stretches of it survive in a strange green path marked here and
there by a boundary stone or a much-weathered Celtic cross.

But the old stories--tales perhaps even older than the road--tell that
the Abbot's Way is the favourite hunting ground of the Wish Hounds or
Yell Hounds, an eerie spectre-pack that hunts across the wildest parts
of the moor on moonless nights.

Strange, gruesome tales are told by those who, benighted or lost in the
fog, have stumbled home through the dark of a winter night across the
grim moorland. They tell--half dazed with fear--as they reach at last
some house and welcome human companionship, of the wild baying of the
hounds that drifted through the murk night to their ears, or of the
sudden vision of the pack passing at whirlwind speed across bog and
marsh urged onward by a grim black figure astride a giant dark horse
from whose smoking nostrils came flame and fire.

The description of this figure, "The Midnight Hunter of the Moor,"
seldom varies, although stories of the Wish Hounds differ from time
to time.

Some say that they are headless, and that their blood-curdling cries
seem to emerge from a phosphorescent glow of evil smoke that hovers
about the place where the head should be. Others describe them as gaunt,
dark beasts with huge white fangs and lolling red tongues.

Up on the grim wild moors it is not hard at midnight, through the
roaring of the wind, or in the stillness of a calm night broken only by
the weird cry of some nocturnal bird or the distant sound of a rushing
stream, to imagine, far away, the baying of this spectre-pack.

The old country folk hold that the man or beast who hears the devilish
music of the Wish Hounds will surely die within the year, and that
any unhappy mortal that stands in the way of the hunt will be pursued
until dawn, and if caught will inevitably lose his soul; for the dark
huntsman, they say, is the devil, whose power is great over that rugged
country between sunset and sunrise.

Even to-day some of the older people will tell you stories of escapes
they have had from the Midnight Hunter, or of the fate that befell some
friend or neighbour very many years ago who never returned from a night
journey across the moor.

But grim as it may be after nightfall, the country which the Abbot's Way
traverses is one of amazing beauty. You may pick up this old track on
the moors a mile or two from Princetown, or strike north to join it from
South Brent or Ivybridge station. To the west there is a stretch of it
clearly marked near Sheepstor where it crosses the head-waters of the

Some think the old Way got its name because it was the means of
communication between the Abbeys of Buckfast on one side of the moor and
Tavistock on the other. Others say it was an old wool-trading track to
the west.

Dartmoor all around this district is at its best. It is a riot of rugged
boulder, fern, and heather, through which rushing streams, full of
trout, flow swiftly southward to the Channel. The Tors here are not the
highest of the moor, yet many of them rise well above the 1,500 feet

It is a country easy of access, for the Great Western main line skirts
the southern edge of Dartmoor between Totnes and Plymouth, and railway
and coaching services enable the tourist to visit some of the most
remote parts of the moor in a day trip from Torquay, Dartmouth,
Teignmouth, or in fact any of the South Devon seaside resorts between
Dawlish and Plymouth. But the visitor who wishes to explore Southern
Dartmoor at leisure will find Newton Abbot the most convenient centre.

[Illustration: _The Abbot's Way_]



There is a lot of truth mingled with the old legends that tell of
the lost land of Lyonesse, a fertile and prosperous country that
once extended west from Cornwall as far as the Scillies. According to
those old traditions a vast number of villages and 140 churches were
overwhelmed on that day, over eight hundred years ago, when the angry
sea broke in and drowned fertile Lyonesse, and now, as an old rhyme
has it:

  "_Beneath Land's End and Scilly rocks_
  _Sunk lies a town that Ocean mocks._"

On that fatal day, November 11, 1099, a mighty storm raged all about our
coasts, but the gale was of unparalleled severity in the West. Those who
have seen a winter gale blowing across the sea that now flows above the
Lost Land will know that it is very easy to believe that those giant
angry waves could break down any poor construction of man's hand
intended to keep the wild waters in check.

For Lyonesse, they say, was stolen by the sea gradually. Here a bit and
there a bit would be submerged after some winter storm, until came this
grim November night, when the sea made a clean sweep of the country and
rushed, with stupendous speed, across the flat wooded lands until it was
brought to a halt by the massive cliffs of what is now the Land's End

There was a Trevilian, an ancestor of the old Cornish family of that
name, who only just escaped with his life from this deluge. He had
foreseen what was coming and had removed his farm stock and his family
from his Lyonesse estate, and was making one further journey to his
threatened home when the sea broke in upon it. Trevilian, mounted
on his fleetest horse, just beat the waves, and there is a cave near
Perranuthnoe which, they say, was the place of refuge to which the
sturdy horse managed to drag his master through the angry waters.

There used to be another memorial of this great inundation at Sennen
Cove, near the Land's End, where for centuries stood an ancient chapel
which it was said a Lord of Goonhilly erected as a thanksgiving for his
escape from the flood that drowned Lyonesse.

To-day all that is left of the lost land are the beautiful Scilly
Islands and the cluster of rocks between the Scillies and Land's End,
known as the Seven Stones. These rocks are probably the last genuine bit
of old Lyonesse, for their Cornish name is Lethowsow, which was what the
old Cornish called Lyonesse. Even now the local fishermen refer to the
Seven Stones as "The City," for tradition tells that there was situated
the principal town of the drowned land, and stories are told of how on
calm days ruined buildings may be discerned beneath the waters near
Lethowsow, and that in times past fishing-nets have brought up old
weathered domestic utensils from the sea bottom near at hand.

A lightship now marks the Seven Stones, and at low water on a rough day
the sight of the huge breakers dashing themselves into foam upon the
rocks is an awe-inspiring one.

The Scillies lie twenty-seven miles west of Land's End and are reached
by a regular service of steamers from Penzance. The journey across is
fascinating, and magnificent views of the rugged coast are to be

And the Islands themselves provide a perfect place for a lazy holiday.
A winter climate they seldom know; flowers bloom right through the year,
and sea fishing and boating there are ideal. The Scillies consist of a
group of about forty granite islands, only a few of which are inhabited.
Many of the islets are joined together by bars of sand at low tide.

Though in the Scillies you may feel very far away from the great world,
quaint, fascinating Penzance, from which you start, is very near--in
time--from London. It is only six and a-half hours from Paddington,
although over 300 miles have to be traversed in the rail journey.

[Illustration: _The Seven Stones_]



The sand-hills that abound near the church of Lelant, by St. Ives, are
now famous the world over for providing one of the most excellent golf
courses in this country. But in the far-away simpler days, before golf
had come south, and when Cornwall was a distant land seldom visited by
strangers, the Lelant sand-hills had a different fame.

In those days they used to say that they were the favourite
meeting-place of the piskies, or, as folks from other parts of England
would call them, fairies. Strange stories were told by the people
of Lelant of the moonlight revels indulged in by the small folk in
sheltered corners of that great stretch of sand-dunes that borders the
Hayle river.

One of the strangest stories is that of a piskie funeral, seen with his
own eyes by a respectable villager ever so many years ago.

Old Richard, who witnessed this amazing sight, was returning late
one night from St. Ives, whither he had been in search of fish. As he
ascended the hill towards his home, he thought he heard the bell of
Lelant church tolling. This struck him as being curious, for it was
just midnight, so he went out of his way to have a look at the church,
in case anything was wrong.

Arriving in sight of the building, he saw faint lights within; and still
the bell continued to toll, though, as he noticed then, in a strange
way, with a queer muffled sound that aroused no echo.

Richard then crept forward to see what was happening. Peering cautiously
through one of the windows, he was at first unable to distinguish
anything, although a strange light illuminated the whole church. But
after a few moments he was able to discern a funeral procession moving
slowly up the centre aisle. It consisted of the little people, crowds of
whom filled the church. Each piskie looked very sad, although, instead
of being dressed in mourning, each carried a gay wreath or garland of
roses or myrtle.

Presently the watcher beheld a bier borne by six piskies, and on it was
the body--no bigger than a small doll, he said--of a beautiful lady.
The mournful procession moved forward to the sanctuary, where Richard
observed two tiny figures digging a wee grave quite close to the altar
table. When they had completed their task, the whole company crowded
around while the pale, lovely corpse was gently lowered into the earth.

At this moment all the piskies burst into the saddest notes of
lamentation, tearing their wreaths and garlands asunder and casting the
flowers into the grave. Then one of the midget grave-diggers threw in a
shovelful of earth and the most piteous cry of sorrow went up from the
small folk, who wailed, "Our Queen is dead! Our Queen is dead!"

Old Richard was so much affected by this that he joined in the cry of
lamentation. But no sooner was his voice heard than all the lights were
extinguished and the piskies fled in consternation in every direction.
Richard himself was so much alarmed that he ran for his home, firmly
convinced that he was fortunate to have escaped with his life.

Lelant Church and the sand-hills remain to-day much as they were on that
long-ago midnight when Richard attended the piskie's funeral, but
nowadays the country round about has become one of the most favoured, by
visitors, in all Cornwall.

Lelant with its golf course, pretty Carbis Bay with its wonderful bathing
beach, and St. Ives, beloved of artists and those in search of rest
and health, a few miles further on, are all places that exercise the
strongest fascination for those who have once visited them. The district
is singularly attractive to the tourist; wild, rugged coast or grim
moorland scenery is to be found within easy walking distance, while
nestling in between the forbidding cliffs are pleasant sheltered sandy
coves where one may bathe in safety or laze away the sunny hours,
protected from the harsher winds that sweep the uplands.

Large modern hotels are to be found at St. Ives and Carbis Bay, and the
sailing and sea-fishing of the Hayle Estuary are as good as any in all
that favoured land of Cornwall.

[Illustration: _Lelant Church_]



In the days of Good Queen Anne, the parson of Talland, a quaint little
sea-girt village near Looe, was a singular man named Dodge. Parson
Dodge's reputation in that neighbourhood was that of being able to lay
ghosts and command evil spirits, and although the country folk were
rather terrified of their vicar, they had the utmost faith in his
marvellous powers.

And it happened that the good folk of Lanreath, a few miles away, were
suffering severely from a wild spirit that frequented the high moor in
their parish. The ghost was that, they said, of an avaricious landowner
who had wasted his fortune in lawsuits, attempting unjustly to seize
from the villagers a wide stretch of common-land. Disappointment had
killed him, but in the spirit world he could find no rest, for he used
to return of nights to the land he had coveted, and drive wildly about
in a black coach drawn by six sable, headless horses, much to the terror
of the country folk.

So the rector of Lanreath decided at last to appeal to Parson Dodge to
come over and exorcise the wandering spirit. Parson Dodge agreed, and
upon the appointed night he and the rector rode out on to the haunted
moor to see what could be done about the bad business.

It was a grim, barren spot that they reached at last and the rector did
not at all like his task. But Parson Dodge bade him cheer up, saying
that he never yet met the ghost that he couldn't best. So the two
parsons dismounted and tramped up and down for an hour, expecting every
moment the arrival of the spectre coach.

When at last midnight had passed and nothing had happened, they decided
to abandon their vigil and return some other night. So, taking leave of
one another, they separated, the rector to take a short ride to his
home, Parson Dodge going a mile across the moor to the road that led him
back to Talland vicarage.

Dodge had been riding about five minutes when, without any apparent
reason, his mare shied, then stood stock-still. The parson tried to urge
her on, but she refused; then he dismounted and tried to lead her, but
that failed too. So he concluded that he must be intended to return,
and, remounting, he set the mare off back to the haunted moor.

She went cross-country through the murky night like the wind, and in
a very few minutes Dodge was again on the spot where he had left his
brother priest. There the mare shied once more and showed every sign of
fear, and the parson, looking about him, espied a short distance off the
gruesome spectre he had originally come to meet.

There was the sooty-black coach, the dark, headless steeds, and, what
thoroughly alarmed him, a grim cloaked figure urging his team at a
gallop along a path in which lay the prostrate form of his friend the
rector of Lanreath.

Parson Dodge set his mare, despite her fears, straight for the
approaching coach, uttering his prayers of exorcism the while. With the
first words the dusky team swerved and a sepulchral voice came from the
driver, saying: "Dodge is come! I must be gone." With that the spirit
whipped up his horses and disappeared at a tremendous pace across the
moor, and was never seen again.

The parson then dismounted and was able to revive the unconscious rector
and carry him safely home, for his own horse, startled at the appearance
of the spectre, had thrown its rider and bolted.

Talland, the home of the old parson, is a fascinating little village
on the coast, between the two Looes--East and West--and picturesque
Polperro, where rugged cliffs on either side descend to form a sheltered
little bay.

Looe is a quaint fishing town straggling on each side of the estuary
of the river of the same name. You reach it by a branch railway from
Liskeard, on the Great Western main line. It is an ideal place in which
to spend a quiet holiday. The coast east and west is typically Cornish,
rugged and wild, yet pierced every few miles by some sheltered cove
or inlet.

Looe itself, protected from the cold winds, enjoys a beautiful climate,
particularly mild in winter. Coast and moorland walks abound; there is
a golf course close at hand, and the sea fishing is excellent.

[Illustration: _Talland Church_]



Of all the vast company of saints peculiar to Cornwall, St. Neot is
surely the strangest, for he was, so the old traditions have it, a
pigmy, perfectly formed, yet only fifteen inches in height. There are
very many stories told of this tiny holy man, and most of them seem to
show that he wielded a great power over all animals.

One of the prettiest stories is of the time when St. Neot presided over
his abbey and there came one night thieves to the monastic farm and
stole all the monks' plough oxen. The poor brothers had not the money to
purchase other beasts, and seed-time was upon them with their fields yet
unploughed. Ruin seemed certain until the good little abbot appealed to
the wild beasts to come to their aid. And then, to the amazement of the
monks, there came from the surrounding forests wild stags, who docilely
offered their necks to the yoke and drew the heavy ploughs.

Each night the stags were released, and they went off to the woods; but
each succeeding morning they returned to continue their task.

The news of this miraculous happening spread rapidly abroad and came at
last to the ears of the thieves. They were so deeply impressed by the
story that they returned the stolen oxen at once and promised never
again to pursue their evil ways. So the stags were released from their
self-appointed labour, but ever after, they say, each bore a white ring
like a yoke about its neck, and each enjoyed a charmed life, for no
arrow or spear of a hunter could hurt it.

Another story that is told is that of St. Neot and the hunted doe. While
the good saint was seated in contemplation by his well, there burst from
the woods a doe pursued by hounds and huntsmen. The poor beast was
exhausted and sank down by the saint as if imploring his protection.

The tiny saint rose and faced the oncoming pack, which instantly turned
and dashed back into the forest. Presently the huntsmen approached with
drawn bows, prepared to dispatch the frightened quarry. But they too, at
the sight of the saint, desisted, and the chief of them, falling upon
his knees, cast away his quiver and besought the Holy Neot to receive
him into the Church.

This man, they say, became a monk at the monastery of St. Petroc
at Bodmin, and the hunting-horn which he carried on the day of his
conversion was hung for many years in St. Neot's church.

Many of the stories of this saint are depicted in the mediæval
stained-glass windows of the parish church of St. Neot, a pretty village
nestling under the southern slopes of the Bodmin Moor. This church has
one of the finest sets of fifteenth and sixteenth century painted
windows in the country, which rival the famous Fairford glass in

St. Neot is easily reached by road from Bodmin or Liskeard, or from
Doublebois station, on the main line, from which it is distant about
three miles. The village lies in a sheltered valley surrounded by
charming wooded country, and from it you may reach, only a short
distance away, the edge of wild Bodmin Moor itself.

Bodmin, an attractive yet--by the tourist--much neglected town, is some
seven miles away. Bodmin, the capital of Cornwall, is a quiet, sleepy
old town ideally situated as a centre from which to reach many parts of
the Duchy. Midway between the two coasts, with a good rail service to
either, and close to the wild moorland that bears its name, this town is
rich in history.

The moor with its two Cornish mountains, Brown Willy and Rough Tor
(which you must pronounce to rhyme with "plough"), is easily reached,
and the rail will take you to Wadebridge or Padstow on the rugged north
coast; or south to sheltered Fowey--the Troy Town of "Q"--for an
afternoon's excursion.

[Illustration: _St. Neot, from a window in the Church_]



They tell a story down in Meneage, as the southernmost corner of
England--the Lizard peninsula--is called, of an old man from the little
village of Cury, near Mullion, who once rescued a mermaid who was
stranded by the receding tide, and could not get back to her husband and
family, who were awaiting her in a cave by Kynance Cove.

The old man was walking along the shore one summer evening, thinking of
nothing in particular, when he saw, in a deep pool left by the falling
tide, a beautiful lady with long golden hair who appeared to be in the
greatest distress.

When he drew nearer to her and discovered that she was a mermaid he was
filled with alarm, for he had heard many tales of these sea sirens from
the fishermen of Gunwalloe. He was for running off home as hard as he
could, but the piteous cries of the lovely creature were too much for
his kind heart, and he went forward to enquire what her trouble might

At first, she was too terrified to reply, but the old man managed to
pacify her and she sobbed out her story. While her husband and children
were asleep in the cave, she said, she had been attracted by the scent
of the glorious flowers, which grow all about the Lizard, and to get
as close to them as possible she had drifted in on the waves, and,
revelling in the sweet perfume, had not noticed the falling tide until
she discovered herself cut off in the rock pool.

Now, she explained, if her husband awoke and found her missing he would
grow terribly angry, for she was supposed to be hunting food for his
dinner, and if none arrived he would as likely as not eat the children.

The old man, horrified at this terrible possibility, asked what he could
do to help. The mermaid replied that if he would only carry her back to
the sea, she would give him any three things he cared to ask. He at once
offered to undertake the task, and asked, not for wealth, but that he
might be able to charm away sickness, to break the spells of witchcraft,
and to discover thieves and restore stolen property. The mermaid readily
agreed to give him these powers, but she said he must come to a certain
rock on another day in order to be instructed as to how to obtain them.
So the old man bent down and, the mermaid clasping him round the neck
with her beautiful arms, he managed to carry her on his back to the
open sea.

A few days later he went to the rock agreed upon and was met by the
mermaid, who thanked him heartily for his aid, and fulfilled her promise
by telling him how he could secure the powers he desired. Then, taking
her comb from her golden hair, she gave it to him, saying that so
long as he preserved it she would come to him whenever he wanted her;
and with that, and a languishing smile, she slid off the rock and

They say that the old man and she met several times afterwards, and that
once she persuaded him to carry her to a quiet place where she could
watch human beings walking about with their "split tails," as she
described legs. And if you doubt this story, the old people along the
coast will still point out to you the "Mermaid's Rock" to prove you

All around the Lizard the wild coast is indented with beautiful
little coves whose pure sandy beaches are washed twice each day by the
incoming tide. In the deep sheltered valleys of Meneage flowers grow in
profusion, while on the bold high moorland of the interior that rare
British plant the Cornish heath flourishes in great bush-like clumps.

You reach this wonderful country by the Great Western road-coach service
from Helston. Mullion, Kynance, Cadgwith, St. Keverne, all in this
district, are places of amazing beauty and charm. There are big modern
hotels to be found at Mullion, and there are golf and sea fishing,
bathing, and entrancing walks by sea or moor to amuse the visitor in
this warm, sea-girt land of heath and flowers.

[Illustration: _The Lizard_]



One of the grimmest yet most fascinating tracts of moorland in the West
is that wild, boulder-strewn district behind St. Just in Penwith, near
the Land's End. Here, amid a scene of savage beauty, wind-swept by the
great gales from the Atlantic, is a stretch of treeless moor the richest
in all Cornwall in remains of prehistoric man.

There is something eerie about this furthest west corner of England and
around it cluster legends galore. One of the queerest is that of the
Hooting Carn, a bleak hill between St. Just and Morvah.

Cam Kenidzhek is its real name, but they are taking now to spelling it
as it is pronounced--Carn Kenidjack. From it weird moaning sounds arise
at night, and the strangely named Gump, a level track just below the
summit, was, they say, the scene of a grim midnight struggle in the very
old days.

It happened that one moonless night two miners, walking back to their
homes from Morvah, passed by the base of the Hooting Carn. They knew its
ill repute and hurried along in silence, their fears not allayed by the
fact that on this night the moaning of the Carn was more persistent than
usual, and that an unearthly light seemed to illuminate the rocks on
its summit. Presently, to their great alarm, there sounded behind them
the thunder of galloping hoofs. Turning in fear, they saw a dark-robed
figure, with a hood covering his face, approaching. As he dashed
past, he signed to them to follow, and, as they explained later, some
irresistible force made them obey. Without knowing how they did so, they
were able to keep pace with the galloping steed and arrived swiftly near
the top of the hill.

There the dark horseman dismounted, and the miners, terrified, found
that they had been brought into the midst of a wild company of men of
huge size, with long, unkempt hair and beards, their faces daubed with
bright colours, and all engaged at the moment in singing a reckless
chorus which concluded in an uncanny hooting sound. But the arrival
of the dark rider brought the demoniac singing to an end. A circle
was quickly formed, and two men, more huge and more terrible than
any present, were brought forward to contest in a wrestling match.
The horseman, squatting on the ground, gave the signal to begin, but
after a few preliminary moves the wrestlers complained that the
light was insufficient. Then the squatting demon--for such he proved
to be--flashed from his eyes two great beams of fire that lit the
whole ring.

The struggle then proceeded, amid the wild yells of the onlookers. At
last one of the wrestlers lifted his opponent clear off his feet, and
hurled him to the ground with stupendous force. There was a sound like
thunder as he fell, and he lay as one dead. At once the whole ring broke
into confusion and crowded round the victor. This seemed to the miners
grossly unfair play, and they went over to the fallen man to give him
what aid they could.

They found him in a terrible state, and, since no aid was available, one
of them started to offer up a prayer for the dying man's soul.

With his first words the utmost consternation fell upon the company.
A great clap of thunder shook the rocks, a pitchy darkness covered the
scene, and a fierce wind swept the hill. Then, looking upward, the
miners saw the whole company--the dying man with them--disappearing
northward in a dense black cloud, the two blazing eyes of the demon who
had led them to the Carn being clearly distinguishable for some time.

Paralysed with fear, the miners remained where they were, until
returning daylight broke the evil spell and permitted them to proceed to
their homes and explain to their neighbours the secret of the Hooting

Carn Kenidjack you may reach by a glorious tramp across the moors from
St. Just, to which a Great Western motor-coach goes many times daily
from Penzance. From the higher ground you will get magnificent coast
views, embracing, on a clear day, the distant land of the Scillies.

All about the moor you will find the strange relics of a former race:
stone circles, barrows, cromlechs, and prehistoric dwellings mingling
with the fern and heather and stunted grass of the hillside, and you
breathe in tonic air that has come to you across two thousand miles of

[Illustration: _The Hooting Carn_]



May Day in Padstow, on the north Cornish coast, is celebrated by an
ancient custom of peculiar interest. The whole town is _en fete_, the
ships in the harbour decked with flags, the people adorned with flowers.
The feature of the day's celebrations is the Hobby Horse Dance, or
procession, to two very old tunes. Until comparatively recent times the
Maypole was still erected each year in the town.

Padstow's two old May songs date from the Middle Ages, but they have
suffered much corruption in the course of time. Words and music have
been altered, but the version given here is from an old source, and,
owing to the irregularity of the metre of the lines, as in all
traditional songs, a considerable amount of ingenuity is called for on
the part of the singer to fit the words of the second and subsequent
verses--particularly of the Day Song--to the tune. But it can be done.

The May Morning Song has eighteen or more verses--each followed by the
chorus--all of which obviously cannot be printed here. There are a dozen
that begin "Rise up...," the name of the person before whose house it
is being sung being inserted.

The reference to "Un Ursula Bird" in the second verse of the Day Song
has a traditional reference to an old dame who, it is said, led a party
of Cornish women in red cloaks, headed by the Hobby Horse, in procession
round the cliffs in days gone by and so frightened away a hostile French
ship, whose captain mistook the women for soldiers. A similar story is
told of Fishguard in South Wales in Legend Land Leaflet No. 11.

[Illustration: THE MAY MORNING SONG (Sheet Music Page 1)]


  Unite! All unite! It's now all unite,
    For Summer is a-come in today;
  And whither we are going it's all now unite,
    In the merry morning of May!

  With the merry singing and the joyful spring,
    For summer is a-come in to-day,
  How happy are those little birds that merrily doth sing
    In the merry morning of May!

  _Chorus: Unite! all unite! &c, after each verse._

  Young men and maidens, I warn you every one,
    For summer is a-come in to-day,
  To go unto the green woods and bring the may home
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Mr ----, with your sword by your side,
    For summer is a-come in to-day,
  Your steed is in the stable and waiting for to ride
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Mr ----, and gold be your ring,
    For summer is a-come in to-day,
  And send us out a cup of ale, and better we shall sing,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Mrs ----, all in your gown of green,
    For summer is a-come in to-day;
  You are so fair a lady as waits upon the queen,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Mr ----, I know you well a fine,
    For summer is a-come in to-day;
  You have a shilling in your purse, but I wish it was in mine,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Miss ----, and strew all your flowers,
    For summer is a-come in to-day;
  It is but a while ago since we have strewed ours,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up, Miss ----, and reach to me your hand
    For summer is a-come in to-day;
  You are so fair a damsel as any in the land,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Rise up Master ----, and reach to me your hand,
    For summer is a-come in to day;
  And you shall have a lively lass, and a thousand pounds in hand,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Where are the maidens that here now should sing?
    For summer is a-come in to day,
  Oh, they are in the meadows the flowers gathering,
    In the merry morning of May!

  The young maids of Padstow, they might if they would--
    For summer is a-come in to day--
  They might have a garland, and decked it all in gold,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Where are the young men that here now should dance?
    For summer is a-come in to day;
  Oh some they are in England, and some they are in France,
    In the merry morning of May!

  The young men of Padstow, they might if they would--
    For summer is a-come in to-day--
  They might have built a ship, and gilt her all in gold,
    In the merry morning of May!

  Now fare ye well, we bid you all good cheer,
    For summer is a-come in to-day,
  We'll call once more unto your house before another year,
    In the merry morning of May!

[Illustration: THE DAY SONG (Sheet Music Page 1)]


  All now for to fetch home,
    The Summer and the May, O!
  For Summer is a-come, O!
    And Winter is a-go, O!

  Up flies the kite,
    And down falls the lark, O!
  Un Ursula Bird she had an old ewe, O!
    And she died in Old Park O!

  Oh, where is St. George?
    Oh where is he, O?
  He's down in his long boat,
    All on the salt sea, O!

  Oh, where are those French dogs?
    Oh, where are they, O?
  They're down in their long boats,
    All on the salt sea, O!

  Oh, where are those French dogs?
    Oh where are they, O!
  They shall eat the grey goose feathers,
    And we will eat the roast, O!

The last verse of the Morning Song is sung to its own tune to conclude
the Day Song.

Padstow itself is a queer old fishing town, fifteen miles from Bodmin,
from which place it is easily reached by train. It is situated at the
mouth of the Camel, the finest salmon river in Cornwall, and has at St.
Enodoc, on the other side of the estuary, one of the best golf courses
in England.

[Illustration: _The Old Hobby Horse_]

       *       *       *       *       *


G.W.R: The Line to Legend Land.

ST. NEOT                 Page 40
THE HOOTING CARN         Page 44
LELANT CHURCH            Page 32
THE SEVEN STONES         Page 28
CURY                     Page 48
TALLAND                  Page 36
PADSTOW                  Page 52

Vol. Two Back End]

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