Peter Tavy

A stone on a low mound, at the crossing of a footpath and a bridleway on the parish boundary, is said to mark the site of ‘Stephen’s Grave’. The first printed account of the associated legend, in Notes and Queries in 1851, says ‘Stephen’ committed suicide and so received the degrading form of burial usually accorded to a suicide until 1823, being laid by a crossroads with a stake through his body. However, this did not prevent him from ‘coming again’ as a very troublesome ghost, until the curate laid his spirit one Sunday afternoon, a ritual which was followed by a violent storm.

More recent accounts have elaborated details of the tragedy, saying that Stephen was a young man who murdered his unfaithful sweetheart just before their wedding, and then killed himself. There are different versions; one says he poisoned an apple, got the girl to eat half, and watched her die. After that he went home and fed his pigs, and then ate the rest of the apple himself.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008