Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The hare-fairy of Carlisle

I promised the fairy enthusiasts on the Fairy Folklore of the UK and Cumbrian Folklore Facebook groups that I would report back on the reference I had found to a hare-fairy being caught in Carlisle. The huge tome of The Saturday Review (Vol 94) for 1902 has now arrived from America and here is the full extract (the whole article on Lakeland fairies and boggles runs to about a thousand words.

The hare-fairy reference comes at the end when the unnamed author is talking about a Mr Cowper and a Mrs Hodgson who have collected fairy stories. I've come across these before - both local historians at about the turn of the 20th century. Mrs Hodgson contributed an article on "Surviving Fairies" to the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society in 1901. Sadly I know nothing more about her (let me know if you do!) but I'll investigate further and see if her papers are kept in the Cumbria Archives. 

The author mentions the witch that turned into a hare at Outgate near Ambleside (a famous legend) and then goes on to say...

...but Mrs Hodgson has caught a real live hare-fairy still haunting the neighbourhood of Carlisle. "There was a fairy that looked like a hare. It was  a real fairy, but a man caught it for a hare, and put it in a bag and thought he would have a nice Sunday dinner. While it was in the bag it saw its father outside, and he called to it, 'Pork, pork'! (query, Puck, the Icelandic puki?) and it cried out 'Let me go to Daddy'! Then the man was angry and said 'Thoo ga to thy Daddy'! and it went away to its Daddy; and he was very much disappointed at not getting his Sunday dinner.

I assume when the writer says Mrs Hodgson has 'caught' a real live hare-fairy, he is meaning that she has tracked down a still current hare-fairy legend. 

The rest of the article refers to other well-known Lake District legends (the phantom army on Souther Fell - though the author says there is also one on Helvellyn, need-fires and the Armboth boggle legend. The Saturday Review was evidently a weekly 'magazine' looking in-depth at a variety of subjects.

This is another delightful fairy legend - I keep a map locating other fairy legends in Cumbria so take a look at let me know of any I have missed!