… the Devil’s Jumps!

Although Johnny lives in Hampshire, it’s right on the border with Surrey. The bambinos went through the Surrey schools system and Juanita still works for Surrey County Council. Johnny’s dog-dragging routes take him through the dusty border towns of Churt, Frensham and Dockenfield — lying in an area known (mostly by greenhorns and carpetbaggers) as the Surrey Hills.

So the family has grown up taking lanes like Jumps Road and areas like the Devil’s Punchbowl for granted. But now Johnny has a folk-tale for ‘ee about how them there names took root. It involves witches, fairies, a cauldron and the Devil himself.

Back, back in the mists of time, a white witch known as Mother Ludlam lived in a cave worn into sandstone cliffs near the market town of Farnham. Or it might have been a colony of fairies — who knows? Anyhoo, Mother Ludlam was valued by the locals for her ability to conjure up utensils and tools. Anything you needed, she could provide. Just visit her by her cave at midnight, make your wish, turn around three times, repeat the wish and when you get back home, the item will be waiting on the doorstep. Your only commitment? To avoid her wrath, make sure you return it within two days.

One day, so the story goes, a stranger appeared and asked to borrow the cauldron itself. Mother Ludlam was reluctant, then suspicious. Her eyes were drawn to the sand outside her cave and they saw hoof-marks. The footprints of the Devil himself! He grabbed the cauldron and fled, pursued by a furious witch on her broomstick. He made three giant strides to the south before dropping his booty in panic and making his escape.

The actual cauldron

His strides tore up three huge mounds known as the Devil’s Jumps and are there to this day. So is Jumps Road in Churt. The last of the mounds, where he is said to have dropped the pot, is known as Kettlebury. His fourth landing created a depression known hereabouts as the Devil’s Punchbowl, now a National Trust property. And the cauldron itself? Mother Ludlum recoverd it and, for safety, placed it within the sanctified ground of St Mary’s Church in Frensham. Where it lies TO THIS DAY!

So the legend goes. As is the way with folk-tales, I have passed on this one from a much more detailed account by David Castleton. But the next time I am riding past St Mary’s Church, I will drop in to see if the cauldron does indeed lie next to the pews. Easier said than done, but then at least we’ll know that everything I’ve told you is TRUE!

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