|The Magic map shows about 15 round barrows in this area. Surely they add to its weirdness and contribute to it featuring in this story:
..the following story [was] taken down by me verbatim from an old woman in the parish of Luffincott in North Devon. I will give it in her own words:--From his 'Book of Folklore' by the excellent Sabine Baring-Gould (1913).
"There was an old woman lived in Bridgerule parish, and she had a very handsome daughter. One evening a carriage and four drove to the door, and a gentleman stepped out. He was a fine-looking man, and he made some excuse to stay in the cottage talking, and he made love to the maiden, and she was rather taken with him. Then he drove away, but next evening he came again, and it was just the same thing; and he axed the maid if on the third night she would go in the coach with him, and be married. She said Yes; and he made her swear that she would.
"Well, the old mother did not think that all was quite right, so she went to the pars'n of Bridgerule and axed he about it. 'My dear,' said he, 'I reckon it's the Old Un. Now look y' here. Take this 'ere candle, and ax that gen'leman next time he comes to let your Polly alone till this 'ere candle be burnt out. Then take it, blow it out, and rin along on all your legs to me.'
"So the old woman took the candle.
"Next night the gen'leman came in his carriage and four, and he went into the cottage and axed the maid to come wi' he, as she'd sworn and promised. She said, 'I will, but you must give me a bit o' time to dress myself.' He said, 'I'll give you till thickey candle be burnt out.'
"Now, when he had said this, the old woman blew the candle out and rinned away as fast as she could, right on end to Bridgerule, and the pars'n he tooked the can'l and walled it up in the side o' the church; you can see where it be to this day (it is the rood loft staircase upper door, now walled up). Well, when the gen'leman saw he was done, he got into his carriage and drove away, and he drove till he comed to Affaland Moor, and then all to wance down went the carriage and horses and all into a sort o bog there, and blue flames came up all round where they went down."
The conversion of a dead lover into the devil is obviously a Christianised modification of a very ancient belief, that the dead do come and claim female companions. In all likelihood there lingered on a tradition of some gentleman having been engulfed in the morass of Affaland.
Posted by Rhiannon
21st July 2010ce
Edited 21st July 2010ce