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The King Stone

Standing Stone / Menhir


There is yet another tradition connected with Rollrich Stones.

A certain man of wealth, the lord of the manor of Little Rollewright, Humphrey Boffin by name, resolved to remove the King's Stone to the courtyard of his own dwelling, about a mile distant, at the foot of the hill.

The country people dissuaded him from making the attempt, telling him that no good would come of it; but he, being an intemperate, violent man, would not be thwarted of his headstrong will, and commenced the attempt.

He thought to accomplish his purpose with a wagon and four horses, but, though the latter were of a famous breed and remarkably strong, they could not stir the stone a single inch. He then yoked another four to the team, but still without success; again and again he made the same addition, nor was it until four-and-twenty horses had been attached to the load, that he was able to effect its removal.

At length Humphrey Boffin triumphed, and the King's Stone stood in the centre of his own courtyard. But his triumph was of short-lived duration, for no sooner had the shades of night appeared, than an indescribable tumult appeared to surround his house, waxing louder and fiercer as the night drew on; nothing was heard but groans and shrieks, the clash of weapons, and the direful din of battle, which noises lasted till the morning, when all again was still. Humphrey Boffin was greatly frightened; but, for all that, his heart was not changed, and in spite of omens he swore he would keep the stone. The second night was worse than the first; on the third, the uproar of the two were combined, and then Humphrey Boffin gave in.

Adopting his wife's counsel (for she, clever woman, saw at once where the shoe pinched), he agreed to restore the King's Stone to the place where Mother Shipton had commanded it to stand. But, the difficulty was how to accomplish the task. It had taken four-and-twenty horses to drag the stone down hill. How many must there be to carry it up again? A single pair settled the question : they wer no sooner in the shafts than they drew the wagon with perfect ease; nor did they stop to breathe nor did they turn a hair on their up-hill journey!

The country people, however, were right. The attempt did Humphrey Boffin "no good;" the civil war breaking out shortly afterwards, his homestead was burnt and his house ransacked by Cromwell's troopers, and he himself, endeavouring to escape - without Mrs. Boffin- tumbled into a well and was drowned. The lady, it is added, eventually consoled herself by marrying the captain of the troop, who, when the wars were over, became a thriving farmer and leader of the conventicle at Banbury.
From p163 of 'Household Words', an article on Mother Shipton, in volume 14, for July-December 1856. Charles Dickens wrote some of the articles and edited the others, but it's not clear to me if this is one of his.

online at Google Books.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd June 2007ce
Edited 18th July 2007ce

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