Midway down the cliff, is a large cavern, the gloomy recesses of which are said in the traditions of the peasantry to be inhabited by Pixies, or Pisgies...
...The entrance to the cavern is by a natural arch, about twelve feet wide, and ten high: the passage continues nearly of the same dimensions for about twenty yards, when it suddenly diminishes to nearly six feet wide, and four high, and still decreasing in size, extends about fifteen yards further. Here it expands into a spacious chamber, which dividing into two parts, runs off in different directions; but the rock dropping, neither of them can be pursued to any great distance; though tradition asserts, that a dog put into one of them, came out at an aperture in Botter rock*, about three miles distant.
p102 /104 in The Beauties of England and Wales, by John Britton etc. 1803.
Precautions have to be taken against changelings, and at Chudleigh mothers used to tie their babies to them in bed at night for fear of the pixies..
A keeper and his wife used to live at Chudleigh, near the rocks, whose holes the pixies "bide" in. This couple had two children, and one morning when the wife had dressed the eldest she let her run away while she dressed the baby. Presently her husband came and asked her "where the little maid was to?" For she was gone and was not to be found. They searched high and low for days; the neighbours came to help, and at last bloodhounds were to be sent for. But one morning some young men thought they would go and help themselves to some nuts from a clump of nut-trees not far from the keeper's house, and at the farther side they came suddenly on the child, undressed, but well and happy, and not at all starved, playing with her toes, or toads; I do not know which. The pixies were supposed to have stolen the child, and are still firmly believed to have been responsible for her disappearance.
Bad parenting blamed on the pixies. At least they looked after her, and they didn't even swap her. This story on p213 of
Lady Rosalind Northcote
Folklore, Vol. 11, No. 2. (Jun., 1900), pp. 212-217.
At Chudleigh Rocks I was told, a few weeks ago, by the old man who acts as guide to the caves, of a recent instance of a man's being pixy-led. In going home, full of strong drink, across the hill above the cavern called the "Pixies' Hole," on a moonlit night, he heard sweet music, and was led into the whirling dance by the "good folk," who kept on spinning him without mercy, till he fell down "in a swoon."
On "coming to himself," he got up and found his way home, where he "took to his bed, and never left it again, but died a little while after," the victim (I suppose) of delirium tremens, or some such disorder, the incipient symptoms of which his haunted fancy turned into the sweet music in the night wind and the fairy revel on the heath. In the tale I have above given he persisted (said the old man), when the medical attendant who was called in inquired of him the symptoms of his illness. This occurrence happened, I understood, very recently, and was told to me in perfect good faith.
Yeah, yeah, explain it away, say he was really drunk. Not everyone who sees the pixies is drunk, you know. From Notes and Queries 61, December28, 1850 (online here at Project Gutenberg).
Chudleigh Rocks contains a number of caves. The Pixie's Hole is a very rare example of an Upper Palaeolithic `living floor' in a British cave. It is one of three caves in the valley known
to contain significant Palaeolithic deposits - the others are called Cow Cave and Tramp's Shelter. The Magic map has records for all three.