The Fairies of Cornwall (9)

This is a old Cornish story about a pretty young girl called Jenny who has given birth to a beautiful baby son three or four days previously. She decides to leave her baby for a few hours to go to the Harvest Festival in the village. In the world of Cornish fairies, this is a NO-NO in capital letters a thousand feet tall. It can only end in total catastrophe.

“Jenny, thinking about her baby left all alone at home, didn’t stop for the drinking after the harvest festival, but had one good drink of beer, got some cakes to take home and then she hurried away. When she opened her door, she saw, by the moonlight, that the cradle was overturned. Straw and rags were on the floor, but no child was in sight”:

“In searching all the holes and corners, she came to the corner where the wood was kept and there, among the heaps of dried grasses, ferns, and gorse, she found the child fast asleep. Being very tired, she took up the child and went to bed”.

“The next morning, when she looked at the baby by daylight, it seemed to her that there was somehow something strange about him. She didn’t know what, but he seemed to be different somehow from when she went off to the Harvest Festival. The baby was healthy enough but he seemed never satisfied unless he was all the time breastfeeding or eating. He would roar like a bull if he didn’t get his own way. He always wanted to be in her arms or eating. She began to wonder what on earth was going on”.


“Poor Jenny couldn’t do her household chores and had no rest at all in her life with the squalling hungry brat. Yet despite all his breastfeeding and eating, the baby always seemed to be wasting away to skin and bone. And so it continued through the entire winter. The more he ate the thinner he became. Many of the neighbours shook their heads when they saw the child and said that they feared the fairies had played a trick on her that afternoon when she went to the harvest festival.”

“They believed that the fairies had left a changeling which, according to local belief:

“….was believed to be a fairy child that had been left in place of a human child stolen by the fairies.”

Nobody knew why the fairies did this. Every culture across Western Europe seems to have had its own ideas. On that basis, there is no reason to exclude immediately that this was not an attempt by superior beings to harvest human DNA, and then to manipulate it, although the ease with which a changeling was identified hints at the many problems they were having with this.

Jenny’s neighbours told her:

“You can do nothing better with the child than to bathe him in the Holy Well at Chapel Carn Brea”.

Carn Brea is the first hill after Land’s End and is made of Hercynian granite. It is at the southern edge of the civil parish of St Just in west Cornwall and has a beacon which is the first of an entire network on the hill tops of England. In this way important messages can be passed such as “Spanish Armada in sight” (1588) or “Battle of Trafalgar won” (1805):

As far as I know, the last time the beacons were used was for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The next episode in this cute little fairy story will appear soon.




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

13 responses to “The Fairies of Cornwall (9)

  1. Keeping us in suspense, John 🙂

  2. Oh, you’re just going to keep us dangling here, eh?
    I’ll be here for the next post!!

  3. Waiting 🙂 Oh how could she live her baby alone ?

  4. I’m not sure about your choice of the word ‘cute’.

    • Dramatic irony, I think it’s called, although I have never been one for these technical terms. They do remind me of a rather nice story which appears in the film “Il Postino” which is about Pablo Neruda. The latter begins to tutor his postman about poetry. The postman then gets a date with a local beauty whose mother becomes very anxious about what he did with her.
      Did he put his,hands on you?–No
      Did he touch you? — No
      Did he kiss you? — No
      Well what did he do to you? —He used METAPHORS !!
      Excellent film.

  5. It’s an interesting point, why did they steal away babies only to replace them with another. Maybe they are using them for experiments and when they have finished they take a new one for ‘good’ DNA to resume their macabre acts of nastiness. I’m beginning to think some of the children at my school are changlings!

    • That is a really good explanation. It even explains the sudden poor quality of the changeling. It’s because they have only limited time to knock out just a rough copy of the original perfect baby. Perhaps they then, a little later, can concentrate on producing a perfect copy when time is not an issue.
      Interesting that some of the kids you encounter are conceivably changelings. I have always suspected that some teachers I encountered were androids. They were certainly programmed when they were refereeing an inter school football game to make sure that their team won.
      Actually that might make a rather funny blog post……..

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