The Pixies of Ottery St Mary, Devon
Long before mankind came to Devon the land was occupied by pixies, a magical race with a great love for the peace and quiet of the beautiful country of Ottery . Pixies loved nature and the natural, so early pagan man did not jar too much with their beliefs.
As man became more numerous, and built on the land, relations with the pixies became more strained. In Ottery the pixies lived on, though increasingly ill at ease as the Christian church came to dominate the lives and beliefs of their human neighbours. When a church was built in the town things became worse.
All this antagonism worsened when the parish church of St Mary was constructed, an impressive building founded by John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter , in 1342. St Mary's was created as a collegiate church, a little brother to Exeter Cathedral , but still a huge edifice for a small town like Ottery. Any help the pixies had given before to the humans - they were famed for aiding poor widows, and giving a hand with the housework for the aged and infirm - was stopped, and the magical creatures fought their human tormentors with a thousand little conflicts and clashes, causing an accident here, an injury there.
The final straw for the pixies came in 1454, when a great set of bells was brought to the church. Pixies loath the sound of bells, an unnatural noise that carries into all the country round about, almost impossible to escape. They tried to prevent the bells being delivered, they tried to stop them being hung. But on Midsummer's Eve 1454 the bells were ready to be rung for the first time, and as they were tolled the pixies fled to a cave near the river Otter, still known as Pixie's Parlour.
In a desperate effort to stop the ringing and have their revenge on the settlement the pixies kidnapped the entire team of bell-ringers from the church, and spirited them away, but through divine intervention the campanologists escaped.
On Midsummer's Eve to this day Ottery celebrates the miraculous escape of the bell-ringers, local children playing the part of the pixies, dragging the bell-ringers from the church. Parents can look on at their offspring dressed in green pixie costumes, and enjoy a glass of beer or two at the fete as they contemplate trying to get their progeny to sleep that night, full of the excitement of magic and mayhem.
1 Response to The Pixies of Ottery St Mary
From Morny wright on 28th June 2011
I love the legend, but would love to know why it came about. There must be some seed of truth to The fairy story. I would like to know the source of information.
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