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The Stiperstones



[The legend] which clings to the 'Devil's Chair,' the highest rock on the Stiperstones, [has been] told me by the country people somewhat in this fashion:--

'Once upon a time the Devil was coming from Ireland with an apronful of stones. Where he was going to I cannot say; some say it was the Wrekin he was carrying in his leather apron, some say he was going to fill up Hell Gutter, on the side of the Stiperstones Hill. But any way he had to cross the Stiperstones, and it was a very hot day, and he was very tired, so he sat down to rest on the highest rock. And as he got up again to go on his way, his apron-string broke, and down went the stones, and very badly he cursed them too, so I've heard. There they lie to this day, scattered on the ground all round the Devil's Chair, and if you go up there in hot weather you may smell the brimstone still, as strong as possible!'

But 'old Netherley,' a lame old man who used to 'lug coal' with a cart and two donkeys about the Condover country twenty or thirty years ago, told a different story, as he had learnt it from the miners employed at the lead-mines in the hill-side.

According to him, of all the countries in the world the Devil hates England the most, because we are good Protestants and read the Bible. Now if ever the Stiperstones sink into the earth, England will be ruined. The devil knows this very well, so he goes whenever he can, and sits in his chair on the top of the hill, in hopes that his weight will flatten it down and thrust it back into the earth, but he hasn't managed it yet, and it is to be hoped he never will!
From 'Shropshire Folk-lore: a sheaf of gleanings' by Charlotte Sophia Burne (1883).

Ms Burne also mentions that like on the Wrekin,
there is another Needle's Eye, a long narrow channel accidentally formed among the huge fragments of rock which lie heaped up round the Devil's Chair. Through this passage visitors must crawl, but I have been unable to learn particulars of person, occasion or consequences. [..] It is said that if any one ventures to sit in the Devil's Chair, a thunderstorm immediately arises.
I don't remember any sulphuryness, but if you climb up into the chair you'll see it's indeed shaped for a giant devil's bottom. I once told the story to a captive audience seated around the dip. I could spin the Wild Edric story out as well - you can almost imagine him and his fairy wife Godda might gallop past. But if the mist comes down you're best off out of there before the devil turns up. Listen out for the red grouse telling you to go back go back gobackgobackgoback. (It's excellent up there, thanks for reminding me TSC.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st December 2011ce
Edited 21st December 2011ce

Comments (2)

Great stuff Rhiannon, just as well I resisted taking a seat in the mist today! thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
21st December 2011ce
Do you know where the needle's eye can be there? I can't imagine it offhand. I hope it's not fallen down! Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2011ce
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