Thursday, 18 July 2019

Black Shuck

The infamous Black Shuck: Can be known as Old Shuck, Old Shock or simply Shuck 
which according to the Oxford English Dictionary derives from the Old English 
word scucca- meaning devil or fiend.
The black demon dogs are still a talking point in the Fens but reports of black dogs 
are also found in other parts of the country.
It can be as big as a calf with red glowing eyes and is said to loiter on lonely
 roads and in grave yards, hiding in the mists rising off the marshes. 
If you feel its breath upon your neck do not be tempted to turn around as sight of 
Black Shuck means death to you or your family.

A huge black dog with flaming red eyes burst through the door of the parish 
church on the 4th August 1577 during a  terrible thunderstorm. The church was full 
of parishioners sheltering from a terrifying thunderstorm of such - “darkness, rain, hail, 
thunder and lightning as was never seen the like”. 
The dog ,once inside, began running around the church tearing at the 
people within. It killed a man and a boy and legend tells that it caused the church 
steeple to collapse through the roof.

An old verse records:

Black dog of Bungay
All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew
And, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew'

As the dog ran from the church it left scorch  marks on the north door and 
departed for  Blyburgh church ,about twelve miles away, where it killed and mauled 
more locals.
But it is not only in the Fens that a Black Shuck has been reported, there are 
many such tales throughout the country of other  demon dogs and phantom hunts.
A black dog with clanking chains and huge eyes haunts St Peter Port on Guernsey.
 Its name is Tchi-co and to hear its howls is a sure sign of death, while the appearance 
of the Dog of Bouley on Jersey means a storm is imminent.

Most of the folklore surrounding the sighting of a demon dog indicates that there 
will be a death in your family, the black dog that guards a hidden faerie treasure at 
Petit Port is an exception.

Hardy’s monument at Portesham  near Dorchester Dorset, is also said to be home to
 a devil dog, this one also brings bad luck. 
P.S this is not the Thomas Hardy, author, which you would think being close to 
 Dorchester, his home town, but Admiral Hardy who sailed with 
Nelson, The Hardy of the ‘Kismet Hardy’ last words of the great man.

Tales of  a demon hunt are also prevalent through out the country, for instance the 
most well known is the pack of Yeth Hounds of Wistmans Wood on Dartmoor.  
This is the last remnants of an ancient woodland and is the home of the hounds. 
They are a fiercesome sight, jet black, with smoke and flames snorting from their nostrils.
From the centre of the woods they start their wild hunt along with a demonic 
huntsman called Dewer, they race across the wild moorland looking for lost souls 
heading for Dewer Stone near Bickleigh where they disappear.
If any mortal is unlucky enough to see them it means banishment to a distant land, and 
speech with the Huntsman means death.

A headless shuck leads a pack of demon dogs through the woods near Blandford, they 
yelp and bay through out the night until dawn while twice year another pack is let loose by the devil around Purse Caundle to terrorise the neighbourhood.

Cwn Annwn:  Hounds of the Otherworlds. 
Welsh phantom dogs which are seen as a death omen but unlike other hell hounds 
they will do no physical harm to their prey. Their growling is louder when at a distance
 and becomes softer as they draw nearer.

But no matter from what part of the country the stories originate, meeting or seeing a Black Shuck usually means death or bad luck apart from the The Black Dog of Birdlip 
Hill,Gloucestershire, who is rather different from the usual phantom dogs which bring death to anybody that sees them, this Black Dog will aid lost travelers and guide them on their way.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Faerie Queen and True Thomas the Rhymer

True Thomas The Rhymer: Many people have been seduced into leaving the 
mortal world and travelling to Faerie land; some never to be seen again, for
 once there it is very difficult to escape. 
One such was Thomas the young Laird of Erceldoune who one May Day saw
 a beautiful woman riding towards him across the grass. He was so smitten 
that he promised then and there to love and stay with her for ever if she would 
only give him a kiss: although in some versions it’s more than a kiss he received! 
Once the kiss had been given Thomas watched in horror as the woman’s appearance 
changed before his eyes, her hair turned gray and her face became lined and 
haggard, her clothes became tattered and there before him stood an old crone 
where two minutes before there had been the beautiful woman with whom he 
had fallen in love.
Thomas knew that he could not go back on his promise and as she made to leave the
 hill where they had met, he gave one backward glance to the mortal world. 
Then followed the old crone to a cave in the side of Eildon Hill and from there
 into the otherworld. They traveled for many days in pitch black surrounded by 
strange sounds until at last they came to an enormous cavern and in the middle
 stood a Faerie Castle surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Thomas turned to the old crone to exclaim at the wonder of the place and there 
in place of the old crone stood the beautiful woman as she had been before. 
Thomas gazing on her face then knew that it was the Faerie Queen herself that he 
had made his promise to.
To Thomas, it seemed as though he had only been there for a few days and when
 the Faerie Queen told him that in fact he had been there for seven years he could 
not believe it. She warned him that if he stayed another night then he would be 
bound for ever in Faerieland and for the sake of their love he would be given a 
chance to return to his mortal home. With a blink of her eye Thomas found himself 
once again standing on Huntlie Bank. The Faerie Queen gave Thomas a parting
 gift: the ability to be a master harpist and also that he would answer every question 
with truth. For seven years his wisdom and prophecies were sought by many. But he 
never forgot the beautiful Queen that had stolen his heart; and one day he received a
 summons from her; Thomas walked out of his home and was never seen again in 
the mortal world.

from 'Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles'

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Fairy Tomb

New Grange Passage Tomb , Brugh Na Boinne, Meath.
This is one of the finest passage graves in Ireland and it is situated in the ancient Boyne Valley Cemetery.
There are three great mounds, three chambers within, a 62 ft passage leads to one chamber. The walls are huge slabs, all carved with intricate spiral and geometric patterns.

Offerings of Gold, Jewellery and coins were buried at New Grange for the Faeries.It was believed that they were the guardians of the land and the health and fertility of animals and crops depended upon their cooperation.

Excerpt from Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles
available or Amazon

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Barrington Court, used for filming Wolf Hall

Barrington Court, Somerset, the National Trust 
property that was chosen to be one of the filming locations for Wolf Hall.
Although the estate had been occupied since the 11th century the
Tudor manor house was not built until the 1500’s. One of the early
 owners, a Giles Daubney, was courtier, diplomat and 
military commander under Edward IV and Henry VII.
Later Henry Daubney inherited the estate and was created Earl of Bridgewater 
for his services to Henry VIII. 

He eventually went bankrupt and was involved in the disgrace of Catherine 
Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife so the state was forfeit to the crown.

It had various owners since then including Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk who 
then sold it to the Cliftons

John Clifton was thought to be responsible for most of the 
building work at Barrington .
 By the early 19th century the property was almost derelict and Barrington Court 
was acquired by the National Trust in 1907 and was leased to 
Col. Abram Arthur Lyle of Tate & Lyle in the 1920's who 
refurbished the court house and renovated Strode House (built in 1674) which 
was originally a stable and coach block. It was at this time that the Lyles contracted 
Gertrude Jekyll to design the three formal gardens on the property that are 
now maintained by the head gardener.

The original stables were used as a location with Mark Rylance leaving his horse 
in this amazing building. ( minus the wicker cow!)

 The interiors are fitted with Colonel Lyle’s collection of 
salvaged antique woodwork.

The house was one of the first large properties acquired by the National Trust, at that time
 they did not  realise just how extensive the repairs and maintenance would be, but do not 
let this put you off visiting this property, its well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Monday, 3 June 2019

St Elmo's Day- 2nd June

According to legend St Elmo or Erasmus of Formia who
was martyred by having his intestines drawn from his body by a windlass. 
So his name is now invoked against all stomach and bowel complaints. 
He is also the patron saint of sailors, because he is said to have continued preaching
 even after a thunderbolt struck the ground beside him, this prompted the sailors
 who witnessed this event and who were also in danger from 
sudden storms and lightening to claim his protection. 

St Elmo's Fire, a bright blue or violet 
glow, the electrical discharge that flickers ships during storms is believed 
to be a sign of his protection.