cocknbull

THE following brief extracts from the excellent Cock & Bull Stories: Animals in Isle of Wight Folklore, Dialect and Cultural History, are reproduced by kind permission of the author, Alan R Phillips.
This charming and beautifully researched publication, a must-read for anyone interested in Isle of Wight folklore, dialect and place-name origins, focuses particularly on the way Islanders interacted in the past - so much more closely than today - with the creatures of the natural world around them. Indeed, in a foreword, Tony Tutton, chairman of the IoW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership writes: "...it is easy to forget our own native creatures and the great levels of interaction we had with them through the ages. This booklet celebrates and reminds us of the importance of animals over time - for farming and the food they provided; as workers helping to manage the land; as creatures that filled us with awe or fear; and as a reference in describing places".
The author does not, however, shy away from the darker side of Islanders' relationship with animals, which is reflected in the title of the publication itself...

Alan writes in the book:

Cockfighting

A licence was granted by royal prerogative for cockfighting to be held at the Castle Inn, Newport, in 1705. On the 12th May 1777 the Hampshire Chronicle gave the following announcement: "Cocking May 19th and the following two days. A main of cocks to be fought at Mr. Gregory's at the Green Dragon Inn, Newport, between the gentlemen of the East and West Medina. To show thirty-one cocks main and ten beys for five guineas a battle and a hundred guineas the odd one".
Around 1820 cockfighting was still in full swing, and one of its patrons, Squire Thatcher of Wacklands, kept 50 game cocks. Great battles were fought in a barn at Lambsleaze, close to Hale, and Island cocks fought 'All-England' at Westminster; Sunday afternoon was also a favourite time for cockfighting at the nearby Fighting Cocks Inn at Hale Common. A cockpit in use at the Squire's Wacklands residence from the 18th century onwards also survives as a circular rose bed at the front of the house. There was once also a Fighting Cocks public house in Ryde, pulled down between 1800 and 1810; presumably so named for the same reason. A 'soourder' in dialect referred to a gamecock that had badly wounded its antagonist.

Bulls
TWO public houses on the Island still retain the name of The Bugle - Brading and Yarmouth - and another one at Newport used to be so called. They are all represented by the sign of a young ox: this is apparently rare nationwide. The most likely reason for its Island adoption is that the bugle, or wild bull, was the supporter to the arms of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, crowned King of the Isle of Wight by Henry VI in 1443.
Close to the Bugle in Brading is its famous Bull Ring, the only visible reminder of the former practice of bull-baiting, in which the unfortunate beast would be goaded by large dogs before being slaughtered. This was believed to improve the quality of the meat as well as providing a public "entertainment". The custom was particularly common in the 16th century: a large field in Niton is also named the Bull Ring and in 1595 had a cottage on it known as Bull Ring Cottage; another smallholding of one acre was known as Bear Close, so it is possible that bear-baiting was also indulged in. In the Assize for Butchers (1636) we are informed "that Butchers may not kill or sell any bull or bulls unbaiten", and Brading Town Hall records indicate that in 1592 William Smith was fined 6d. for killing a bull without baiting.
Towards the end of the 18th century, however, pressure for change was mounting. In 1785 Newport Borough strongly noted its disapproval of "the continued interruption of the peace of this town by the dangerous practise of Bull Baiting. We lament that bills [of prosecution] are preferred against those only in the lower class of life, as the punishment already inflicted on them... must in a measure have done away this evil, had they not been abetted by persons, whose conduct ought to have been an example of strict conformity to the civil laws of this borough" - in other words, the activity was being egged on by upper middle-class individuals. In 1815 George Bull was being prosecuted for the act of baiting a bull at West Cowes, and bull-baiting was finally outlawed in 1835.
- Alan R Phillips

The following extract is the foreword for a brief book that forms a joint project by a couple of Grove members, one of the aims of which is to show how these ancient tales pre-date the Christian era in Britain.

The Tylwyth Teg

By Maurice Paul Bower

Cadair
AMONG the wild hills and lush green valleys of Wales there exists a tremendously rich tradition of long-remembered and no doubt heavily embroidered tales of mysterious fairy folk populating the mountains, forests, lakes, streams and shores of this most beautiful of lands.

The far history of this ancient collection of kingdoms and its people, the Cymry - who today still speak their own time-honoured language and perhaps have as good a claim as any to being the original inhabitants of the British Isles - remains etched on the landscape in standing stones and the remnants of hut circles; in deep, damp, bone-cold and long-forgotten mines; and in sacred chambers built into the Earth where the ancestors were accorded their due and considerable honours.

Tales abound of mythic drowned cities, of dragons, of magic and of legendary kings as, indeed, they may in a place now recognized as the last stronghold of the ancient Druids, whose much-sought-after wisdom was preserved and passed down the generations in the bardic form of poetry and song committed to memory rather than written down - perhaps at least in part as a test of the initiate’s intellectual mettle and fitness for his eventual high office of trusted chief adviser to his tribal king.

The enigmatic cycle of tales collected together as The Mabinogion, though first written down long after the original Druids had been vanquished to the depths of time, provides fascinating glimpses of some of the high legends of a long-lost Welsh culture, as well as deep insights into the lives and beliefs of the people.

But the everyday folk stories of the ordinary inhabitants are easily as rich in colour and mystery, with a magnificent 'cast list’ of characters and creatures each with its own broadly-defined culture and associated tales.

The Ellyllon or Elven folk, the Bwbachod or house fairies, the mountain cave-dwelling Coblynau - perhaps the original Goblins - and the rest of this colourful parade of magical folk each seems to be quite distinct in its habits and appearance, yet all share a wealth of common ground and traits within the mystery of their traditions.

It is hard to escape the notion that these magical, mythic peoples are the remnants of old pagan gods and goddesses. Like those ancient deities, offerings were made to them and their wishes had to be respected to avoid dire consequences.  Descriptions of these enigmatic creatures are often quite vivid, too, provoking the seductive idea that perhaps they are, at least in part, the race memory of real-life tribes now long vanished and all but forgotten.

It has also been suggested that perhaps in these tales lie the last vestiges of real memory of the highly-revered ancient pagan Druids, driven into hiding and conceivably even quite literally underground with the destruction by conquerors and colonisers of their powerbase, their last strongholds - such as Aberffraw on Anglesey (Mon, Mam Cymru, the Mother of Wales) - and their age-old way of life.

It would seem quite possible and perhaps even probable that these folk tales were, at least at some stage in their now distant and intangible history, strictly the preserve of adults reflecting the moralities, dreams and fears of their communities, before being eventually consigned largely to the role of cautionary tales for children as the adults began to turn their backs on the Old Ways in favour of the rather less nature-attuned and much more prosaic style of modern life. Some still have elements rather more grim than, perhaps, might have been the case if they had been originally devised especially for children.

In the end it is quite possible that these tales are simply no more than localised flights of fancy, perhaps originally conceived to teach morality lessons or to graphically underline acceptable rules for communal living. Yet it is also tantalisingly possible to infer that human need and belief in their time gave these characters a life utterly as real as any in the world we perceive today.

And there is another possibility, requiring a rather more open heart and mind - indeed, a major leap of faith in the pragmatic and rather more secular world we currently inhabit - but nontheless valid if all options are to be considered.

What if the Fair Folk really do exist and always have and it is simply that our way of life and, perhaps also, our mental biology has changed so much, removing us so far from the natural world in which the human race first learned to crawl and ultimately to walk upright, that we are now no longer able to perceive them?

If this last should - by whatever twist of fate or evolutional serendipity - be the case, the Tylwyth Teg could, at least theoretically, one day again be glimpsed amidst the pinnacles and valleys and before the warm and glowing open hearths of Wales.

Perhaps, if ever again humankind should somehow return to living within and with nature instead of insulated from and against her, the human heart and spirit might once more rediscover the acuity to embrace the worlds our far-distant ancestors would seem to have accepted so easily as an everyday part of their reality.

Once more, just maybe, we will walk with the Old Gods.

* The picture shows a view from Anglesey across the Menai Straits towards the cloud-shrouded mountains of mainland North Wales. Photograph by DAVID BOWER

Get in touch by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What information do we collect?

Members:

We collect information from members when you register on our site and when you log in and visit the site, respond to a survey or fill out a form. When registering on our site, you may be asked to enter your name and/or e-mail address. You may, however, visit our site anonymously.

Visitors:

We collect information from those who visit the site anonymously. Such information relates to site usage and contains no personal information.

What do we use your information for?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways:

To personalise your experience. Your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs.

To improve our website. We continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you.

Members only - To send periodic emails. The email address you provide may be used to send you information, respond to inquiries, and/or other requests or questions, although any email you may receive from us will have details below the text of how to opt out of future mails.

How do we protect your information?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you enter, submit, or access your personal information.

Do we use cookies?

Yes, from time to time we may. Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computer's hard drive through your web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers' systems to recognise your browser and capture and remember certain information.

We use cookies to compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our website. To learn more about cookies, what they do and how to disable them, should you so wish, please visit http://www.aboutcookies.org/

Do we disclose any information to outside parties?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website or servicing you, as long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect our or others' rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for other non-commercial uses.

Third-party links

Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include links to third-party websites we feel may interest our users. These third-party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore can accept no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Also, our inclusion of such links does not necessarily imply Wight Druids' endorsements of these third-party sites or their contents. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites via the contact details listed below.

Events on the Isle of Wight

Events on this page may be collated from a range of sources and Wight Druids cannot be responsible for the contents or accuracy of information of these sources. The presence of an event on this page is for convenience only and does not imply any kind of endorsement by Wight Druids of those events or any endorsement of the content or participants of such events. Wight Druids accept no liability for death, injury or loss arising from participation in or attendance at any event listed on this website.

California Online Privacy Protection Act Compliance

Because we value your privacy we have taken the necessary precautions to be in compliance with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. We therefore will not distribute members' personal information to outside parties without your consent.

As part of the California Online Privacy Protection Act, members may make any changes to their information at any time by contacting Wight Druids (see info at the foot of this page).

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Compliance

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act). No one under the age of 13 may register as a member and no personal information is collected from an anonymous visitor of any age. Our website is directed at people who are at least 13 years old or older.

Online Privacy Policy Only

This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information that may be collected offline.

Your Consent

By using our site, you consent to this online privacy policy.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page.

This policy was last modified on 07/06/2012.

Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below.

http://wightdruids.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

30 Robin Hood Street
Newport
Isle of Wight
PO30 2AW
UK