Saint Osyth (Osgyth) was of royal blood. Her father, Frithwald, was the King of Mercia, while, Wilburge, her mother, was herself a daughter of the King of the Mercians. As a small child, Osyth was sent to be educated by her Aunt, Saint Edith, an abbess in charge of a nunnery at Aylesbury. One day […]
English Folklore, Myths and Legends
When most people think of English folklore, they think of giants, witches, and dragons. While these creatures are certainly a part of English folklore, they are only a small part of it. There are many famous figures and tales from English folklore that deserve to be more well-known.
One of the main distinctions when compared to Greek mythology for example is that English folklore is heavily influenced by the different settlers to the islands.
There is a mixture of Celtic, Viking, and Roman traditions with tales inspired by the French Normans and Germanic Saxons.
There are many famous figures and tales from English folklore. One of the most well-known is King Arthur, who is featured in numerous legends. Other famous characters include Robin Hood and Jack the giant killer, each of which has different importance.
King Arthur - King Arthur may not technically be considered folklore but many of his tales are stories about a legendary king, so there are aspects of English folklore here. King Arthur is a popular figure in British culture and there are many tales about him, such as the story of his sword Excalibur and the Knights of the Round table.
Robin Hood - Robin Hood is perhaps the most famous figure from English folklore. He was an outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, which is why he was very popular with ordinary people in England.
Jack and the Beanstalk - This is a famous fairy tale from English folklore about a young boy named Jack who trades his cow for some magic beans. The story goes that he planted these beans, they grew into an enormous beanstalk that reached towards the sky.
The Lincoln Imp - The Lincoln Imp is a small, goblin-like creature that is said to live in the cathedral in Lincoln. The legend surrounding the Lincoln Imp focuses on Satan sending two imps to Earth to cause mischief. These imps were said to have caused chaos and destruction wherever they went. Upon reaching Lincoln Cathedral, the imps began damaging the building before being stopped by an angel who turned one of them into stone.
Spring-Heeled Jack - Spring-Heeled Jack is a mythical figure that appears in stories and urban legends in London in the 19th Century. He was said to be able to leap great heights, use his claws to attack people, and breathe fire from his mouth. There are many variations of the story but they all describe this creature as having supernatural powers.
Green Children of Woolpit - The Green children of Woolpit are two siblings who were found abandoned in a field near the village of Woolpit in Suffolk. The children had green skin and spoke an unknown language. They were taken in by the villagers, who tried to teach them English but they never learned. The children eventually lost their green coloring and started to eat normally but they never learned to speak English.
The Legend of the Lambton Worm - This is a famous story from North East England about John Lambton who misses church one Sunday. He goes fishing in the River Wear and catches a mysterious worm-like creature. He decides to hide his catch by throwing it down a nearby well. The man goes off to fight in the Crusades and when he returns he finds that the worm has turned into a giant snake that is terrorizing the local villagers. He kills the monster and is hailed as a hero.
The Green Man - The Green Man is a figure that appears in many different folklore traditions around the world. He is usually depicted as a man with a green face and vines or leaves growing out of his head. He is often seen as a symbol of rebirth or renewal.
Dick Whittington - Dick Whittington is a folk hero in English folklore who became Lord Mayor of London. He traveled to London to make his fortune as he believed the streets were paved with gold. The real Richard Whittington was Lord Mayor of London in 1397 and when he died he left his wealth to several London institutions including St. Bartholomew's hospital.
Herne the Hunter and the Wild Hunt - The Wild Hunt is a mythological story that tells of a group of hunters led by Herne, who ride through the forest at night on their horses searching for prey. It is originally a Norse myth featuring the Viking God Odin. Herne the hunter was from the Windsor forest and had antlers growing from his head. He even appears in Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor.
St George is the patron saint of England and among the most famous of Christian figures. His flag is the Red cross of the martyr on a white background. It forms the central cross to the Union Jack. He is unusually both a Christian Saint and a Muslim Prophet. But of the man himself, nothing […]
Herne The Hunter & The Wild Hunt
‘Herne’ was one of the keepers of the ‘Forest of Windsor’ in the reign of ‘King Richard II‘ and known for his great hunting and woodcraft skills. Whilst King Richard favoured Herne, his fellow hunters it is said hated him and plotted to cause Herne’s downfall. One day the royal party were out on a […]
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Long ago, in a place called Camelot, the great King Arthur was celebrating Christmastide, a twelve day period of feasting and jubilation. Christmas Day had passed but there was still much feasting to come. Sharing the King’s celebrations were the Knights of the Round Table, the most honourable men in all the lands. They were […]
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wallHumpty Dumpty had a great fallAll the king’s horses, and all the king’s men,Couldn’t put Humpty together again! Nobody knows exactly who or what Humpty Dumpty was. The rhyme was first printed in 1810 and became famous through Lewis Caroll‘s book, ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, where Humpty Dumpty is […]
A popular legendary figure since at least the 14th century, Robin Hood is commonly believed to have been a master of tricks and disguise, not to mention an accomplished archer and singlestick fighter. Although details of his life are vague, stories about ‘the merry outlaw’ have long been recounted, added to and adapted through the […]
The Green Man
Who or what is the Green Man whose image is to be found carved in churches and cathedrals all over Britain and Europe? Is he simply an historical pagan god of the woods or is there a deeper significance behind this symbolism? As part of most May Day ‘Sweeps Festivals’ in various areas within the […]