Saturday, 31 December 2016

Curious tale of folklore and smuggling...

ONCE upon a time there lived a dragon in a deep, dark pool at Lyminster that terrorised the local community until it was killed by a brave farm lad armed only with a poisoned pudding! Once upon a time a mill once used by a smuggler collapsed in a storm, sending a millstone hurtling down the hill until it hit and crushed to death a man at Angmering. Once upon a time great supernatural horses appeared in a shimmering mist to the terror of lonely travellers. Once upon a time the ghost of an executed highwayman haunted his own gibbet high up on the downs near Burpham.
‘Once upon a time’ is the starting point of many folk stories and recalls an age when the lines between fact and fantasy were far more blurred than today. People accepted that strange, inexplicable things happened and put it down to the activity of unseen forces.
In his new book, historian Chris Hare delves into the world of folklore in Sussex and Hampshire and attempts to separate historical fact from fantasy. This new book, The Secret Shore: tales of folklore and smuggling from Sussex and Hampshire, is published by the South Downs Society, and is a result of a two year long Heritage Lottery funded project. It is a companion to the previously released CD, South Coast Songs and Shanties.
Chris led a team of volunteer researchers during the summer and autumn of 2015, who interviewed people living on the Sussex and Hampshire coast about the folk tales and superstitions that still exist amongst our modern coastal communities. The results of this survey were set against the ground-breaking research undertaken in Sussex by pioneering folklorist, Charlotte Latham in the 1860s.
In his book, Chris is able to show how many old beliefs that Charlotte Latham thought were dying out in her day, still survive in our own times. Many people still wish magpies a good day for fear of inviting bad luck if they omit to do so. There are numerous stories still in circulation about mysterious tunnels, just as there were 160 years ago. Some of our local residents still smash their spoons through their empty egg shells for fear that witches will put to sea in them if they fail to do so!-read more

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