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Cotswolds Mystery of Long Compton


Cotswolds Mystery of Long Compton

If you are planning a Cotswolds journey then why not take a 6 hour North Cotswolds Tour with us. If you are planning your Cotswolds day trip then we know you will want to ensure you book the best Cotswolds Tour, so we hope the posts will inspire you to visit this historic region, full of myths & legends. Today we are taking you on a Cotswolds journey to Long Compton, located 4 miles north of Chipping Norton, this attractive stone built village stretches along the A3400 for almost half a mile. If you are passing through you will find a fabulous pub The Red Lion, which is definitely a great spot for lunch or an evening meal.

Cotswolds Mystery of Long Compton & St Augustine

For the students of folklore & the paranormal Long Compton has plenty to offer, the earliest legend dates back to 604AD, it concerns St Augustine, a missionary for the Saxons. According to the legend, St Augustine visited the village. He met the local village priest met with St Augustine & complained that the Lord of the Manor was refusing to pay tithes to the church, even though the priest had threatened the Lord of the Manor with excommunication, the still would not pay. St Augustine invited the Lord of the Manor to the church and asked again, still the Lord of the Manor would not be moved. So St Augustine threaten the excommunication, this made no difference to the Lord of the Manor.

St Augustine, moved to the alter to preform mass, he said aloud ‘Let all those who are excommunicated be removed from this church’. As the Lord of the Manor went to leave the church, he walked through the graveyard & saw the ghost of a man rise up from his grave and leave the grounds of the church. St Augustine had now joined the Lord of the Manor in the churchyard, and confronted the ghost. The ghostly man explained that in his life he had been a ‘Briton’, when Saxon invaders had arrived, he had also refused to pay tithes, and subsequently died after being excommunicated by a Saxon priest.

St Augustine, then asked the man to point out the grave of the priest who had excommunicated him. St Augustine then raised the priest from his grave and demanded he absolve the ghostly man, the two ghosts then returned to their grave. The Lord of the Manor, seeing the error of his ways, after witnessing the astonishing powers of St Augustine, became a faithful member of the congregation & agreed that from henceforth he would pay the tithes owing to the church.

The mystery tomb,

As you walk into the porch of the church you will notice on your right the well worn effigy of a woman. No doubt this once adorned the top of a tomb. Believed to date back to the 14th Century, the owner of the tomb has long since been forgotten. The feet of the figure looks as though it is resting on an animal possibly a fox or cat. It could be this that lends the figure to belief that it was once a witch. Be warned, the figure is said to have a malevolent stare, which cements people to the spot, so try not to get caught in its gaze.

Cotswolds Mystery of Ancient Earthworks

If you walk into the churchyard, over the dry stone wall, you will see a brick built barn. Notice that the field, known as The Close, seems to have a curious mixture of hummocks. Some claim these are in fact ancient earthworks of the original village, or even a defensive system. You may think, this isn’t that mysterious….well wait & see!

Many years ago there was a claim, that a local man sold his soul to the devil in this particular field. By reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards the local man succeeded to arouse the Devil & his twelve imps. Be warned, in recent times a man on a stormy afternoon was intending to take photographs of the ancient earthworks, only to have his camera torn from his hands.

Cotswolds Mystery of Witchcraft

Lastly Long Compton has had a long association with witchcraft. Perhaps due to the proximity of Rollright Stones. One story which can be evidenced is linked with an elderly resident of Long Compton who was murdered in 1875.

James Heywood a farm labourer living within the village, had for some time been experiencing cramps & pains. He believed the source of his complaints were caused by an elderly woman named Anne Turner. Heywood convinced himself that the only way to rid himself of his curse was to rid the village of Anne Turner. At the time there was a common belief that to sure yourself from a curse, you would have to ‘draw blood above the breath’ (cut the witches throat) With this in mind Heywood lured his neighbour Anne Turner to a barn in the village, where he impaled her to the ground with a pitchfork & cut her throat.

Heywood was arrested for the murder of Anne Turner, at his hearing he claimed that he had been correct, and that Anne Turner had been a witch. When asked why his beliefs were so strong, he told the judge, that since Anne Turner had been killed his aches & pains had stopped. The Judge reminded him, that since he had killed Anne Turner he had been in prison, and no longer working on the land as a farm labourer, his body had rested & recovered & that was the reason why he no longer experienced the aches & pains.

Heywood was judged as insane, and detained at the ‘Queens Pleasure’ escaping the death penalty.

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