The Fairies of Cornwall (8)

This post is a continuation  from Episode No 7…..

Mr Noy has wandered into the Land of the Fairies, where he meets Grace Hutchens who was his fiancée for several years. One day she was found dead on the moor. She thinks that she had a fit, and that when she was buried, her coffin contained merely a changeling, sent by the fairies.

A changeling, incidentally, is a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents’ real child in infancy.

While this was going on, the real Grace Hutchens had inadvertently wandered into the Land of the Fairies on the moor. While she was there, she bit into a plum and was therefore forced to remain with the Fairies as a  servant girl to tidy up, bake cakes and brew beer, clean their houses and nurse the changeling children. Grace says to her erstwhile fiancé….

“People believed that I was found dead on the moor. It was supposed that I must’ve had a fit, as I was subject to them. What was buried as me, however, was only a changeling, a sham body.”

Mr Noy wanted to know much more about these strange beings, and was about to inquire, when the fairies again called “Grace, Grace, why are you so long. Bring some drink quickly.” She hastily entered the house and at that moment it came into his head that he too would have some drink, disperse the small tribe of fairies and save Grace.

Knowing that any garment turned inside out and cast among the fairies would make them flee, and happening to put his hand into his coat pocket, he felt for the gloves that he had worn in the afternoon.

As quickly as he could, he turned one inside-out, put into it a small stone and threw it among them.

In an instant they all vanished with the house, Grace, and all the furniture. He just had time to glance around and saw nothing but bushes and the roofless walls of an old cottage:

Suddenly, Mr Noy received a blow on his forehead that knocked him down. He soon fell asleep and dozed away an hour or two…… or so he thought.

Those to whom Mr Noy related his story, said that he had learnt nothing new from Grace, for local people had always believed of the fairies such things as she had told him, and that none of the fairies liked to be seen by daylight because they then looked aged and grim. It was said too, that the fairies who take animal form get smaller and smaller with every change, until they are finally lost in the Earth as ants.

Mr Noy, now fully recovered from his adventure, further informed his neighbours that he had noticed, among the fairies, many who bore a sort of family likeness to people he knew, and he had no doubt that some of them were changelings of recent date. Other familiar faces were their forefathers who died in days of yore, when they were not good enough to be admitted into heaven, nor yet so wicked as to be doomed to the “worst of all places”.

The worst of all places was not, in fact, a football stadium, but Hell:

According to Mr Noy, the fairies pass the winter, for the most part, in underground habitations, entered from the huge granite outcrops on the moors. And it is held that many persons who appear to have died entranced are not really dead, but have been changed into fairies.

This is Carn Kenidjack near St Just. It is a completely natural rock formation, but the connection between granite outcrops and fairies is extended by many people, even nowadays, to include the numerous megalithic sites of western Cornwall. I have certainly met one farmer at a little village near Constantine who believed that if you went at dawn’s early light down from the farmhouse to the megalithic tomb, you would see the fairies dancing in the form of little tiny lights:

This is Pixie’s Hall Fogou near Bosahan Farm. A fogou is a kind of underground chamber whose purpose, after around four thousand years of thinking about it, we have not yet ascertained.

In similar fashion, the capstone of Chûn Quoit frequently plays host to the same kind of lights:

One footnote, incidentally, is that “the fairies who take animal form get smaller and smaller with every change, until they are finally lost in the Earth as ants”. The Cornish people have their own special name for ants which is “Muryans”. It comes from the Breton “merien” and Welsh “myrion”.



Filed under Cornwall, Criminology, Cryptozoology, History, Literature, Personal, Wildlife and Nature, Writing

14 responses to “The Fairies of Cornwall (8)

    • Yes, and so often the same across the world. I really am puzzled that the Irish, the Native Americans of the Rockies and the Aborigines of Australia all share stories about little people around 2-3 feet high. It seems a very difficult thing to explain away.

  1. People back then had far more imagination than Hollywood does today!

    • You are not wrong there. Hardly any of the most recent films have impressed me, particularly the all-action ones. They certainly struggle to outdo “Snow White” and the Fleischer Brothers’ “Gulliver’s Travels” .

  2. That ants were once fairies make total sense. They are Nature’s miracle workers 🙂

    • Well, anybody who can lift that many times their own body weight gets my vote!
      I mentioned in my reply to “derrickjknight” (above) how intrigued I was by the fact that various peoples of the world who were separated by oceans and thousands of miles of distance, all had the same beliefs in little people. I wish I knew more about folklore to link ants and fairies in other cultures, but all I could find on Google was the Greek story that “Zeus transforms an island’s ants into men and women who are called the Myrmidons.” (which is not a million miles from the Cornish, Welsh and Breton quoted above.
      I also found that “The Native American Hopi tribe has a legend that the first people to inhabit the earth descended from ants.”
      Both of those ideas, though, are the opposite of the Cornish fairies and ants in that they are ants to people, rather than “people” to ants.

  3. The plot just gets thicker and thicker John. I wonder what the link is between inside out clothing and the fairies disappearing? It seems an odd catalyst and where do they go to? I don’t suppose anyone has video evidence of these ‘lights’ although knowing You Tube there’s probably plenty!

    • You are right about the inside out clothing. It is a really strange belief, but one that the old Cornish people were happy was effective.
      On Satellite TV and Amazon Prime I’ve watched a fair number of Bigfoot documentaries, and on two occasions, 3-4 inch orbs of light high up in the trees have been filmed. I was satisfied watching the programme that they were not being faked. They moved along smoothly and were sufficiently high up in the trees to make it difficult to see how they could have been manufactured.
      One famous case of slightly larger lights are the “Brown Mountain Lights” in the USA which have been filmed on numerous occasions with no explanation that stood up long term ever being found.

      • It’s certainly a strange phenomenon and whilst there are many sceptics, there has to be something to all these ‘oddities’. Maybe one day we’ll find the truth to it all!

  4. Jeff Tupholme

    Have you read the book ‘Seeing Fairies’, about the Fairy Investigation Society and Nottingham’s Marjorie Johnson?

    • Yes, I have and I enjoyed it. I don’t see any reason that there shouldn’t be other beings in our world, especially when the tales of their existence have lasted so long and are so easily traceable across so many other countries, particularly if we equate “nature spirits” with fairies.
      I think what has happened is that our industrialisation, our noise and pollution and above all our desire to destroy, has pushed them back into the most remote corners of the kingdom.

  5. So fascinating and the book Seeing Fairies sounds equally fascinating. Thank you,

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