Two Fairy Sightings from 20th Century Britain

My last blog post was about a video I found on YouTube from Irish television in 1966. They were covering the attempt by an Irish docker, Tim Hayes, to spend 101 hours buried underground near a fairy fort in order to disprove the existence of the ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Good People’. The film included a brief interview with a local man, who said he would definitely not want to interfere with the fairy fort, and would be extremely upset if anyone else were to do so or interfere with the field in which it lay. The film testifies to the continuing power of real belief in the fairies, despite the onward march of rationalism.

But it isn’t only in Ireland or the Celtic countries that belief in the fairies still persists. People are also still seeing them in England too. I found these two accounts from the 20th century in Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, (London: Reader’s Digest 1973), p. 121.

All dressed in green

‘… When we were on holiday in Cornwall, my daughter and I came down a winding lane, and all of a sudden there was a small green man – all in green with a pointed hood and ears. We both saw him … we were cold with terror and ran for the ferry below.’ A 20th century description by a man from Shropshire.

A fairy guide

‘… It was on the Berkshire Downs, and we’d lost our way, and didn’t know what track to take. When I looked round, there was small man in green standing at my elbow. “You’ll be all right,” he said, “You take that one; you’ll be all right.” Then he didn’t disappear, but he just wasn’t there any more’. Described in 1962 by a Somerset farmer’s wife.

And sightings continue to the present day. I went to a folklore/ paranormal conference a few years ago here in Bristol on the fairies, which included people who very firmly believed in them. And when I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D. at Bristol university, I went to a seminar on fairies presented by the epic Ron Hutton. Hutton opened by singing the theme to the Southern vampire TV series, Tru Blood, before describing a sighting of a fairy one evening by a young man and a women in Glastonbury. Well, where else? The couple saw this strange light bouncing along the ground. One of them asked the other what on earth it could be, and got the reply ‘It’s a fairy. What else could it be?’

Having said that, you have to be careful of jokers. My mother had an old friend from college down in Cornwall. She went down there one year to visit her. They were out on a trip somewhere, and she, the friend, my father and the friend’s mother went on to wherever they were going, leaving the friend’s father behind to have a sit down and rest. When they returned they found that he’d been talking to an American woman. This was at a time when there was a spate of fairy sightings. The American had asked the old fellow if he’d seen any. Oh yes, he replied, he certainly had. They were at the bottom of his garden. That wasn’t remotely true, and when they challenged him on it, he replied, ‘Well, it’s what she wanted to hear.’ Sometimes that smiling old rustic telling you of his supernatural encounters may not be the naive, horny-handed son of toil in touch with the supernatural you believe him to be.

But in the spirit of this post, here’s another video I found on YouTube. It’s the folk-rock band Steeleye Span playing ‘Wee Wee Man’ about a fairy from the 1970s.

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5 Responses to “Two Fairy Sightings from 20th Century Britain”

  1. trev Says:

    I believe Fairies/Faerys (inc. Gnomes, Elves, Pixies, Brownies, etc.) are Elemental Beings, visible at times to certain people. Though I’ve not yet seen one myself. Mid-Summer’s night is supposed to be a good time to see them, when the veil between the different realms/dimensions is thin.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks, Trev. I’ve heard that too. The Anglican churchwoman and theologian Theo Brown mentions a fairy experience in her ‘Folklore of Devon’. She describes how a friend was resting in the countryside one day when she had the impression of being surrounded by a crowd of tiny beings. Interestingly, she also got the impression that they possessed a collective intelligence rather than individual minds.

  2. Brian Burden Says:

    So sad they ran in terror from the dear little pixie! UFO investigator John A.Keel finds an overlap between UFO incidents and fairy encounters. One theory (not Keel’s own) is that many of these phenomena are a consequence of earth currents or alien technology acting on a part of the brain called the corpus collosum. So when you see a pixie, he is probably an emissary of Mother Nature, generated in your own mind by a force similar to the one dowsers tune in to. A guy who buttonholed me in a pub decades ago alleged that as a trainee RAF pilot he had been required to read a file detailing UFO encounters. One account which impressed him particularly concerned a pilot who had been sent up to intercept a UFO. The man had reported back that he had lost his target and was returning to base, navigating by visible landmarks. Radar told a different story: the man was heading out over the North Sea and certain death when his fuel ran out. He had to be talked in. I’d recommend Keel’s books: This Haunted Planet, Strange Beings From Beyond Space And Time, Operation Trojan Horse, The Mothman Prophecies, The Eighth Tower. Whatever else, they are a really stimulating read. My only criticism is that Keel rules out nuts and bolts saucers altogether. Many of these are developments from nazi technology and some are actually extraterrestrial. For the latter, I recommend Colonel Corso’s The Day After Roswell. Corso says he was in charge of the Foreign Technology department, which had the job of passing on Roswell hardware for development to various US corporations. For the former, google Hanebu, and you will see a dead ringer for the saucer which appears in Adamski’s photos. What Adamski claimed was a spaceship from Venus was actually an experimental craft built by the nazis. Heady stuff!

    • beastrabban Says:

      Really interesting, Brian. I’ve read some of Keel’s books, The Mothman Prophecies and Operation Trojan Horse, as well as Disneyland of the Gods. From what I remember, he and Jacques Vallee were pioneers of the now accepted view that connects the fairies to flying saucers. I’m also a fan of the Richard Gere film The Mothman Prophecies. It’s not terrifying, and you never see thee Mothhman itself, just drawings of it. But it is genuinely creepy and eerie.
      There is a theory that alien/UFO encounters are a development from Swedenborgians. They believed that the dead passed on to the other worlds in our solar system, which also had their own indigenous inhabitants. Interestingly, one n of the people Evans-Wentz interviewed for his book was ‘an Irish mystic’ who said that he believed the fairies were an older race than ours that came from the stars.

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