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The Friar of Tillington

Every part of the UK has tales of ghostly clergy and Herefordshire is no exception. We seem to have more than our fair share.Our tale this week takes us to the beautiful village of Tillington where an anchorite friar was said to have resided. His job was to tend the small shrine that lay in the woods nearby. Being an anchorite friar, he should have been devoted to a life of prayer and contemplation above all else, living life as a hermit close to the church, However this was not the case. The friar was frequently derelict in his religious duties preferring to participate in both gambling and drinking in the village whenever the opportunity presented itself. It was a beautiful sunny day and the friar had had for once a very productive morning. He had completed all of his morning prayers and was just about to settle down to a hearty lunch when there came a knock at his door. Before him stood one of the villagers, who excitedly informed the friar that some badger baiting was planned for the afternoon and invited him to come along. Conflicted between his religious tasks and having some fun the friar declined the offer. His conscience weighed heavy on him, he had more prayers to say for the souls of the departed, he couldn’t possibly go badger baiting, could he? As he sat thinking, reconsidering his choice not to go, to his surprise a badger came wandering into his little chapel. Surely this was a sign, with haste he scooped up the unsuspecting badger and threw it in a sack. With his religious duties forgotten he slung the sack over his back and hurried off to The Bell at Tillington. During his walk to the pub the friar became a little disconcerted. He was sure that he could hear a voice coming from the sack but quickly dismissed it and continued to hurry along the road. On reaching The Bell he found a group of rowdy drinkers outside. He boasted that he had a fine, strong badger inside the sack and he was ready to take on any man and win. Confidently he laid the sack on the floor and opened it, but no-one was ready for what was about to happen. To everyone’s surprise out sprang the devil himself shouting “Daddy Calls!” and with that he grabbed the friar and both of them disappeared into a ball of flame. Gone.From that day people reported seeing the figure of a ghostly monk fervently walking down the lane in Tillington heading towards The Bell. He appears to be in a great hurry. As he reaches the pub he then suddenly vanishes. Subsequently it was known by locals as the place ‘Where the Devil got the friar’, for the Devil took the friar after tricking him into abandoning his religious duties.
We bet he wished he had stayed at home that day after all!

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