Weather And Folk Lore Of Peterborough And District Part 9

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Two knives, crossed on the table, foretells a quarrel within an hour.

To drop a knife mean a male visitor and, in the case of a fork, a female visitor.

Never give, or accept, a sharp edged or pointed present without giving a coin in exchange, or friendship will be broken.

Knives crossed and laid on the floor is a strong protection against the power of witchcraft.

A very old woman told me she once tried the knives on one of her neighbours, as she suspected the woman of overlooking her; so she asked the woman to come and see her one day but before the woman came into the house she crossed two knives and put them on the floor in a dark corner.

When the suspected person came in she wouldn't sit down and soon left, appearing to be very uncomfortable; so she was a "wrong un" but the old lady said she was all right after that, and had no more trouble.

Straws crossed and placed on a footpath, or on the road, prevents a witch from pa.s.sing.

Many years since I remember hearing of this being done as a suspected woman was coming along, and it was said the woman got very angry and foamed at the mouth but she didn't pa.s.s the straws.

The following is in use at the present time:--

If a husband runs away from his wife she buys a pennyworth of Dragon's Blood, wraps it in paper, and places it under her pillow when she goes to bed, and it is sure to draw him back again.

A chemist in Peterborough had a letter a few years since, from a woman in the Fens, asking him to send her a "pennorth of Dragons Blood" for this very purpose; and the following shows that the custom is in use, even in the United States of America, at the present time according to the following extract from the "Daily Express" of 18th February, 1905:

Drank Dragon's Blood.

Buffalo Bill's wife gave him love Philtres.

"Express" Correspondent.

Cheyenne (Wyoming), Friday, February 17th., 1905.

It came out, during the hearing of Buffalo Bill's divorce case to-day, that he had been dosed with many love Philtres.

Mrs. Cody, his wife, was extremely jealous of him and imagining that his affection for her was gone, mixed gipsy love potions in his drinks. One of these, which was supposed to be particularly efficacious, was known as "Dragon's Blood."

Mrs. Parker, a witness, told the court that Mrs. Cody believed that every woman was infatuated with her husband, and confided to her the names of many prominent women who, she said, were in love with him.

The witness stated, in cross examination, that during these outbursts of jealousy Colonel Cody was beside himself with rage.

Dragon's Blood is not a fluid. It is a resin from certain kinds of palm.

At Oundle "There is a Well that is credibly reported to drum as a presage of very great alterations to publick affairs." M.S.S. dated 1703, of the Phillips Stourhead Collection, No. 22244.

I came across this Croyland rhyme some time since:--

In Holland fen, now mark the name, Old Croyland stands, of mickle fame, There is a wine of a certain cla.s.s, There is fodder like sword gra.s.s, There's a bed as hard as stone, Thence depart, with "get ye gone."

If you can peel an apple with the paring in one piece take the peel by one end with the right hand and wave it three times over your head and throw it over your left shoulder, and it will fall in the form of the first letter of your sweetheart's christian or surname.

With the first cherry pie of the season, those who partake of it count the stones, to know their prospect of matrimony. The counting is done in this manner and, at the same time, repeating these words over and over again until all the stones on the plate have been counted:--

1st. stone "This year," 2nd stone "Next year," 3rd stone "Sometime,"

4th. stone "Never," and on which word the last stone falls, that is the fate.


"Grandfather" Clocks, and especially those which have been in a family for two or three generations, are regarded as capable of foretelling deaths in a family. If one falls down, stops without any apparent cause, or strikes several times more that it ought to do without stopping, then these events are certain signs of death.

A well known barrister told me he had bought an old Grandfather clock, and his man had entire charge of it. One morning the man found the clock had fallen down during the night and he was very much disturbed about it and said there would be a death soon, and within a week the man's father died.

In another case a man said he was cleaning a clock which his father had made, and the owner told him what a good clock it was, but, said she, "It was completely master of your father for a time. He came to clean it one day, and after a few weeks it stopped, and he went again and attended to it, but it was no use, so was given up as a bad job. The owner was certain a death would soon occur, and shortly after her husband's mother died. When she heard of the death she set the pendulum swinging, and it had never stopped since, except to be cleaned."

It is very seldom that other kinds of clocks are credited with these powers although at Werrington there was, in a cottage, a small wooden Dutch clock called in this neighbourhood a "Sheep's head" clock. It was hanging on the wall and had not been going for some years, the weights and pendulum had been lost and the lines were wrapped round the clock.

One Sunday morning before the woman and her husband had risen from bed, but were both wide awake, they distinctly heard this clock strike "one"

and by the next mail they received notice that their son, a soldier on Foreign service, had died that Sunday morning, and at one o'clock.

There are several things worn as charms and amulets, which are attributed with various powers, and one favourite is a "Lucky bone"

which is worn for good luck. This bone is taken from a sheep's head, and is in the form of a T.

A stone with a hole through it, is worn and highly valued for its Good Luck.

The stones that have only one large hole, are hung on bed heads, and in stables.

Horse shoes, when found, are very lucky and should be nailed over the threshold, or over the hearth. I have seen some at Cotterstock Hall, Alwalton Hall, and other houses, attached to the door. They are also nailed over stable doors. If there are any nails in the shoe, when found by a single person, then, as many nails as there are, so many years will it be before the marriage of that person.

Thorney men, seeing a small portion of a horse shoe lying in the road, pick it up and throw it over their shoulder, so that no ill-luck may befall them.

A knuckle bone or a cramp bone carried in the pocket prevents cramp.

A potato, chestnut or a nutmeg carried in the pocket prevents rheumatism.

A piece of wicken is worn as a cure for the ague.

A mole's foot or a load stone, in the pocket, is a protection against witches.

Although lamps and gas have generally supplanted candles, in the country where candles are still used, the spark on the wick is considered to denote the coming of a letter, and the melted tallow or composition forming a winding sheet denotes a death.

When a candle burns blue or dim, a spirit is said to be in the room.

It is very unlucky to return to the house for anything after leaving it, although the spell is broken if the person sits down before coming out of the house again.

Two people, meeting on a staircase, is a sign of an approaching wedding.

When walking together, two lovers must not pa.s.s on different sides of turnstiles, road posts, or lamp posts, or they will certainly quarrel.

It is bad luck, when two persons are walking together, to separate and one to turn back against a gate; but if one of them sits down for a time, whilst the other walks away, the bad luck is turned.

To spill salt is a sign of sorrow or anger; but if the spilt salt is gathered up in a spoon and thrown over the left shoulder the luck is turned.

An old shoe thrown after anyone starting on a new undertaking is considered to carry good luck; especially if it goes over the head and does not hit the person.

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Weather And Folk Lore Of Peterborough And District Part 9 summary

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