The Info List - English Folklore

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English folklore
English folklore
is the folk tradition which has developed in England over a number of centuries. Some stories can be traced back to their roots, while the origin of others is uncertain or disputed. England abounds with folklore, in all forms, from such obvious manifestations as the traditional Robin Hood
Robin Hood
tales, the Brythonic-inspired Arthurian legend, to contemporary urban legends and facets of cryptozoology such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Morris dance
Morris dance
and related practices such as the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance preserve old English folk traditions, as do Mummers Plays. Pub names may preserve folk traditions. English folklore
English folklore
is largely drawn from Celtic, Germanic and Christian sources.[1] Whereas some traditions were once believed across the whole of England, most belong to specific regions:


1 Folklore found throughout much of England

1.1 Folklore of East Anglia 1.2 Folklore of London and the South East 1.3 Folklore of the Midlands 1.4 Folklore of Yorkshire and the North East 1.5 Folklore of the North West 1.6 Folklore of the South West

2 Folklore in song 3 Remnants of paganism in English folklore 4 English folklore
English folklore
in other media 5 See also 6 Bibliography 7 References 8 External links

Folklore found throughout much of England[edit]

Black dog -Often said to be associated with the Devil, and its appearance was regarded as a portent of death. It is generally supposed to be larger than a normal dog, and often has large, glowing eyes. It is a common feature of British Isles
British Isles
and Northern European folklore. Boggart
- A boggart is, depending on local or regional tradition, either a household spirit or a malevolent genius loci inhabiting fields, marshes or other topographical features. The household boggart causes things to disappear, milk to sour, and dogs to go lame. Always malevolent, the boggart will follow its family wherever they flee. In Northern England, at least, there was the belief that the boggart should never be named, for when the boggart was given a name, it would not be reasoned with nor persuaded, but would become uncontrollable and destructive. Brownie - In folklore, a brownie is a type of hob, similar to a hobgoblin. Brownies are said to inhabit houses and aid in tasks around the house. However, they do not like to be seen and will only work at night, traditionally in exchange for small gifts or food. Among food, they especially enjoy porridge and honey. They usually abandon the house if their gifts are called payments, or if the owners of the house misuse them. Brownies make their homes in an unused part of the house. Chime hours - According to English folklore, those born at certain hours could see ghosts. Countless stones
Countless stones
- Associated with megalithic monuments Corn dolly
Corn dolly
- Corn dollies are a form of straw work made as part of harvest customs of Europe
before mechanization. Before Christianisation, in traditional pagan European culture it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and that the harvest made it effectively homeless. Cunning folk
Cunning folk
- The term "cunning man" or "cunning woman" was most widely used in southern England
and the Midlands, as well as in Wales. Such people were also frequently known across England
as "wizards", "wise men". Dragons- Giant winged reptiles that breathe fire or poison. There are many dragon legends in England. Somerset and the North East being very rich. Drake's Drum
Drake's Drum
- Shortly before he died, Drake ordered the drum to be taken to Buckland Abbey, where it still is today, and vowed that if England
was ever in danger someone was to beat the drum and he would return to defend the country. According to legend it can be heard to beat at times when England
is at war or significant national events take place. Dwarfs Elves Ettin English Country Dance
English Country Dance
- English Country Dance
English Country Dance
is a form of folk dance. It is a social dance form, which has earliest documented instances in the late 16th century. Father Time Flibbertigibbet Four Winds - Shown on old maps they are usually shown as faces blowing out wind from their mouths. There are generally 4 of them (North Wind, South Wind, East Wind and West Wind) although in some cases only 2 are shown and in others the whole outside of the map has been surrounded by smaller heads with 4 larger ones. Green Man
Green Man
- A Green Man
Green Man
is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Hag Stone
Hag Stone
Hag Stone
Hag Stone
is a type of stone, usually glassy, with a naturally occurring hole through it. Such stones have been discovered by archaeologists in both Britain and Egypt. Havelok the Dane Legend of the Mistletoe Bough - The Legend of the Mistletoe Bough is a ghost story which has been associated with many mansions and stately homes in England.

The tale tells how a new bride, playing a game of hide-and-seek during her wedding breakfast, hid in a chest in an attic and was unable to escape. She was not discovered by her family and friends, and suffocated. The body was allegedly found many years later in the locked chest.

Lob - The lubber fiend, Lob, lubberkin, lurdane or Lob Lie-By-The-Fire was a legendary creature of English folklore
English folklore
that was similar in attributes to the "brownie". He is typically described as a large, hairy man with a tail, who performs housework in exchange for a saucer of milk and a place in front of the fire. One story claims he is the giant son of a witch and the Devil. May Queen Maypole
dance Maypole Mother Nature Oak Apple Day Ogres
(or Trolls) Parish Ale Petrifying well Rabbit rabbit rabbit Redcap
a groups of trolls, gobins, and even ugly elves with a red caps. Reynardine Robin Goodfellow
Robin Goodfellow
is a troublesome elf or hobgoblin Robin Hood
Robin Hood
– a legendary English hero. Saint Swithun
- English weather lore Standing stones and chalk figures are the focus for folktales and beliefs. Tom Thumb Wandering Jew Well dressing
Well dressing
– An ancient practice of decorating wells in the Peak District and surrounding areas. Wild Hunt Will-o'-the-wisp
A folk explanation of strange lights seen around marshes and bogs. Wyvern
– Smaller relatives of dragons with two legs rather than four.

Folklore of East Anglia[edit]

St. Audrey Babes in the Wood
Babes in the Wood
at Wayland Wood The Black Shuck
Black Shuck
– A Black Dog Caxton Gibbet St. Edmund of East Anglia Green children of Woolpit Hereward the Wake Jack Valentine

Molly dance King Cole and St. Helena The Pedlar of Swaffham Religious visions at Walsingham Tom Hickathrift Turpin's Cave Gnome
A small fat creature depicted with a white beard and moustache. (Female: Wombies).

Folklore of London and the South East[edit]

Sir Bevis of Hampton Biddenden Maids Bran the Blessed's Head at the Tower of London Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London Clapham Wood, an area of strange activity Devil's Jumps, Churt Devil's Jumps, Treyford Gog and Magog, legendary giants and guardians of the City of London Hengest
and Horsa, legendary founders of Saxon England Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter
– a related to the Wild Hunt Hoodening

Kit's Coty House Lady Lovibond London Bridge is falling down King Lud, connected with the City of London Mallard Song Oranges and Lemons The Ratman of Southend Rollright Stones Spring Heeled Jack Swan Upping Uffington White Horse Wayland the Smith

Folklore of the Midlands[edit]

Alkborough Turf Maze Black Annis Black Lady of Bradley Woods Border Morris Bottle-kicking Byard's Leap The Derby Ram Dun Cow St. Frideswide Fulk FitzWarin Godiva Guy of Warwick Haxey Hood Game

Jack of Kent Lincoln Imp Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln Madam Pigott Major Oak Mermaid's Pool Nanny Rutt Robin Hood Royal Shrovetide Football Tiddy Mun Wise Men of Gotham The Giant of the Wrekin Yallery-Brown

Folklore of Yorkshire and the North East[edit]

The Barghest The Cauld Lad of Hylton St. Cuthbert The Devil's Arrows Duergar The Hedley Kow Jack-In-Irons Jenny Greenteeth Jingling Geordie's Hole Halifax Gibbet Kilburn White Horse

Laidly Worm The Lambton Worm Legend of Upsall Castle Long Sword dance My Own Self Peg Powler Rapper sword Redcap Robin Hood Sedgefield Ball Game Ursula Southeil

Folklore of the North West[edit]

The Wizard of Alderley Edge Eachy Folklore of Lancashire Gytrash

Long Meg and Her Daughters Pendle Witches Samlesbury Witches Wild Boar of Westmorland

Folklore of the South West[edit]

Abbotsbury Garland Day Barber surgeon of Avebury Tom Bawcock Belas Knap Bowerman's Nose Cerne Abbas Giant Cheese rolling Childe's Tomb Corineus, legendary founder of Cornwall Crazywell Pool Devil's Footprints Dorset Ooser St. Dunstan
is the origin of the lucky horseshoe Glastonbury
and its abbey Glastonbury

Goblin Combe Hairy hands Hunky punk Jack the Giant Killer
Jack the Giant Killer
and Galligantus Jay's Grave Lyonesse Moonrakers, the story of how the inhabitants of Wiltshire got their nickname The Obby Oss of Padstow Pixies Punkie Night Jan Tregeagle The Great Thunderstorm, Widecombe Three hares
Three hares
(Tinners' Rabbits) Tintagel, legendary birthplace of King Arthur Warren House Inn Widecombe Fair The Witch of Wookey Hole

Folklore in song[edit]

And did those feet in ancient time Green Bushes Greensleeves Green grow the rushes, O Singing Vicar of Bray Uncle Tom Cobley

Remnants of paganism in English folklore[edit] Many parts of English and British folklore still contain evidence of Europe’s pre-Christian past. In common with most other regions of Europe, some aspects of past Pagan
religions survive in English Folklore. Examples are this include the Wild Hunt
Wild Hunt
and Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter
which relate to the Germanic deity Woden. The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
may represent a pre-Christian festival and the practice of Well dressing in the Peak District
Peak District
which may date back to Anglo-Saxon
or even Celtic times. May Day
May Day
celebrations such as the Maypole
survive across much of England
and Northern Europe. English folklore
English folklore
in other media[edit] English folklore
English folklore
crops up in books, films and comic books and these appearances include:

Characters such as Jenny Greenteeth, The Black Shuck
Black Shuck
and Black Annis have made an appearances in the comic 2000 AD, and in the short story London Falling by Simon Spurrier
Simon Spurrier
and Lee Garbett. Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter
and other references to English folklore
English folklore
and Arthurian legend can be found in Susan Cooper's books, The Dark Is Rising. The name Springheel Jack is used in the Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda Softworks
game Oblivion in a Thieves Guild Quest line There are several mentions of British folklore creatures in the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling such as Boggarts and Redcaps. The 1989 manga Berserk takes inspiration from various aspects of English folklore.

See also[edit]

Merry England Celtic mythology English mythology Sabine Baring-Gould Cecil Sharp Nursery rhyme Once upon a time Anglo-Saxon
mythology Scottish folklore Donas de fuera Matter of Britain Thunderstone (folklore) St George's Day in England


Hutton, Ronald, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in England, 1999 Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, 1959 Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, (2nd edn) 1997 Opie, Iona, and Moira Tatem, A Dictionary of Superstitions, 1989 Paynter, William H. and Jason Semmens, The Cornish Witch-finder: William Henry Paynter and the Witcher, Ghosts, Charms and Folklore of Cornwall, 2008 Roud, Steve, The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Great Britain and Ireland, 2004 Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore, 2000 Vickery, Roy, A Dictionary of Plant Lore, 1995 Westwood, Jennifer, and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's legends, 2005 Wright, Arthur Robinson, English Folklore 1900 Fee, Christopher R, Gods, Heroes, & Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain, 2004


^ Simpson, Jacqueline; Roud, Stephen (6 January 2018). "A Dictionary of English Folklore". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via Google Books. 

External links[edit]

Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales (1849), by James Halliwell, a discussion on the origin of English folk tales and rhymes. Weather and Folk Lore of Peterborough and District, by Charles Dack, 1911, from Project Gutenberg Project-IONA a repository of folk tales from England
and the islands of the North Atlantic Website of the Folklore Society (UK) Pretanic World - Folklore and Folkbelief