Category Archives: Folklore

Traditionally, Christmas was a time when family, friends and neighbours would gather together, and in the days before radio, television and the internet, would create their own amusements.

Christmas_Victorian_Under_the_mistletoe-Tidbits_FreebieForemost among these in Victorian times was playing forfeits, which frequently involved word puzzles – for example, reciting a...

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By Jerry Bird

Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, was one of the four great religious festivals of the ancient Celts. It was their ‘day of the dead’ when the veil between this world and the underworld was considered to be thin – a time to commune with spirits and honour the ancestors. Hence the modern custom...

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Fortunately, many curious customs survived in Dorset long enough to be recorded by the folklorist John Symonds Udal, who contributed a regular folklore column to the Dorset County Chronicle in the 1880s.

His book, Dorsetshire Folk-lore, was eventually published in 1922. In his chapter on marriage customs he mentions a tradition which the poet William Barnes...

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Newlands Manor, near the village of Batcombe, north-west of Dorchester, was once occupied by one John Minterne, who had a reputation for dealing with the Devil and dabbling in the ‘black arts’. The villagers nicknamed him ‘Conjuring Minterne’.

One day, Minterne was riding near the village when he suddenly remembered he had left his magical grimoire...

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Buried items often come to light in archaeological investigations, or during the renovation of old buildings, that reveal the beliefs and superstitions of the people who built and lived in them. Animal remains, shoes and written charms are common, and witch-bottles are a well known phenomenon. Such items were placed for ‘apotropaic’ reasons – to...
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Now summer is upon us (sort of!), tourists will be visiting Cerne Abbas to view the famous giant, the ‘Rude Man of Dorset’. However, many experts now believe the figure was created no earlier than the 17th century, which might explain the relative paucity of folklore on the topic. Much richer in lore and legend...

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