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Stillington and District Community Archive

In the Heart of North Yorkshire

Folk Tales


Folk tales are part of an oral tradition in Stillington, Marton and Moxby. They are part of the history of these places just as surely as postcards, deeds and the census. From generation to generation they have been passed on - changing and developing; delighting, and scaring - for most are of a supernatural nature.
The older tales have a moral aspect hidden within the story.
There is, of course, as explanation behind most of the tales which have nothing to do with the paranormal. Those can be read at the bottom of the page.

The story that most remember is the one about how the Lucy Balk got its name. There are many versions - this is  just one
Lucy Balk

The next story is about a witch and has been told to countless generations of children in Stillington.The Witch Stone

This story is believed to have come from the Tenniswood family who lived in Stillington for many generations. The Misses Tenniswood, who lived on the High Street, passed the story onto their neighbour Effie Hawkswell.  One senior resident remembered Effie telling a version of this story in her shop and scaring everyone silly!
The story has elements from many folktales - wicked uncles, lost children and vengeful spirits. The last reveal bears a strong resemblance to that of 'Madam Crowl's Ghost' written in 1870 by Sheridan le Fanu.

The real history behind the name Lucy Balk has to do with a plant called Lucerne. A member of the pea family it was sown in Medieval meadows for two reasons. The first was it contains a natural steroid which increases milk production in dairy animals and muscle growth in draught animals. The second reason was that it made the meadow easier to manage - it grows on long stems which helped cutting with hand tools and it didn't self seed to compete with other plants
The balk, which is an uncultivated strip of land, led to meadow land and was known in Medieval times as Luce Balk. After the reformation the name had changed to Lucie and finally by the 19th Century had become Lucy.

The so called Witch Stone was remarkable. About a metre and half long and about half a metre deep it looked just like a crouching human. It was in fact a left over from the last Ice Age: an erratic. When the glaciers retreated ten thousand years ago it was deposited along with the sand that could be once found behind Townend Pond, where the stone itself lay. In fact the pond may be a result of the same action.
Unfortunately the stone disappeared about forty years ago.






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