The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Fairies of Stowmarket

The following account of supernatural happening in the Stowmarket area were published in the East Anglian Miscellany 1906 by Chas. Smith, Great Bealings.

"The old ‘Parish Clerk’ used to say the fairies frequented several houses in Tavern Street about 80 years since. They never appeared as long as anyone was about. People used to lie hid to see them, and some have seen them. Once in particular, by a wood-stack, up near the brick-yard, there was a large company of them, dancing, singing, and playing music together. They wore very small people, quite little creatures, and very merry. But as soon as they saw anybody they all vanished away. In the houses after they had fled, on going upstairs sparkes of fire as bright as stars used to appear under the feet of persons who disturbed them. 
‘‘The house in which A. W. now lives, was the scene of fairy visits and officiousness. A man lived there, who was visited constantly by a fairy. They used his cottage for their meetings. They cannot abide dirt or slovenliness, they kept it tidy and clean, they cut and brought faggots for the good man, and filled his oven with dry wood every night. They also left a shilling for him under the leg of a chair. 
“And a fairy often came to him and warned him not to tell anyone of it, for if he did the shillings, wood, and fairies would never come to him again. Unluckily for him he did tell his good luck, and then his little friends were never seen by him more. The fairy wore yellow satin shoes, was clothed with a green long coat, girt about by a golden belt, and had sandy hair and complexion. A woman had a child changed, and one, a poor thing, left in its place, but she was very kind to it, and every morning on getting up she found a small piece of money in her pocket. 
"Neighbour S is a brother of old B, the sexton. He died at 82. She is now near 80. Her father was a leather breeches maker, and her mother having had a baby was lying asleep in bed, and the infant by her side. She woke in the night, it was dimmish light, and missed the babe. Uttering an exclamation of fear, lest the Fairies should have taken the child, she jumped out of bed, and there sure enough a number of the little sandy things had got the baby at the foot of the bed, and were undressing it. They fled away through a hole in the floor, laughing as if they shrieked, and snatching up her child, on examination she found that they had laid all the pins head to head as they took them out of the dress. For months afterwards she always slept with the child between herself and husband, and used carefully to pin it by its bedclothes to the pillow and sheets that it might not be snatched hastily away. This happened in the old house which stood where the new one now stands on the south side of the Vicarage gate.
In the parish of Onehouse, a man was ploughing in a field, a Fairy quite small and sandy-coloured came to him and asked him to mend his peel (a flat iron with a handle to take bread out of an oven), and that, if he did, he should have a hot cake. The ploughman soon put a new handle in it, and soon after a smoking hot cake made its appearance in the furrows near him, which he ate with infinite relish.” 
A Fairy man came to a woman in the parish, and asked her to attend his wife at her lying in, she did so, and went to fairy land, and afterwards came home none the worse for her trip. But one Thursday at the market in Stowe, she saw the Fairy man in a butcher’s shop, helping himself to some beef. On this she goes up and spoke to him. Whereupon, much surprised, he bid her say nothing about it, and inquires with which eye she could see him, for when in fairyland he had rubbed one of her eves with some ointment, on pointing to the gifted eye, he blew into it, and from that time she could never see a Fairy again. 
Stowmarkct, 1842.—S, living for 30 years at tho cottages in the hop ground on the Bury road, coming home one night 20 years since, in the meadow now a hop ground, not far from three ashen trees, in very bright moonlight saw the Fairies. There might be a dozen of them, the biggest about three feet high, and small ones like dolls. Their dresses sparkled as if with spangles like the girls at shows at Stowe fair, they were moving round hand in hand in a ring, no noise from them. They seemed light and shadowy, not like solid bodies. 
"1 passed on, saying, 'the Lord have mercy on me', but them must be the Fairies, and being alone then on the path over the held could see them as plain as 1 do you. I looked after them when I got over the style, and they were there, just tho same moving round and round. I ran home, and called three women to come back with me and see them, but when we got to the place they were all gone. I could not make out any particular things about their faces. I might be 40 yards from them, and I did not like to stop and stare at them."

My informant firmly believes in their existence, and wonders how it is that of late years no such 
things have been seen.


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