Frightened to Death by Fairies

Lake District Gothic

This piece by Martin Wainwright is as much about the error of putting too much faith in statistics as the deceptive calm of the Lake District, but it also told me about some Cumbrian crimes and I’d never heard of or forgotten.

Lake District Gothic/Noir was the sort of genre I was trying to write in my teens and every so often I think of going back to it. Plus there’s the good old Frightened to Death by Fairies stuff to finish as well.

Sketches – Frightened to Death by Fairies

Fairies, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

I have a terrible addiction to collecting note and sketch books. It wasn’t so bad when I could get them from the stationery cupboard at work, but nowadays I have to buy the bloody things. My most recent hit is a Derwent sketch pad, a moleskine by any other name. I never seem to fill any of my dozens of books, either.

So I’ve started uploading some of my sketches to Flickr, so you can see what I do with my acquisitions.

This was an idea for a Frightened to Death by Fairies image. It was going to be “Died after drinking Mrs. Lamplugh’s cordial.”

Yes, the fairy is peeing into the bottle. I’m not sure whether to go with this version or simply have her tipping poison into it.

More sketches can be found in my Art set at Flickr.

Frightened to Death by John Humphries

The Today programme comes from the Royal Society today, discussing science and its future (move to India, they still understand its importance). One of their teaser comments for an upcoming item was “Were hundreds of Cumbrians really scared to death by fairies?” I think I missed it, so I may have to listen again to hear just that bit and see if it’s related to my own Frightened to Death by Fairies images.

Update I just caught it, and it’s the same document, from Lamplugh parish, as I based my Fairies pictures on.

And here’s the news item at BBC Cumbria- Dead funny: Archives Service digs up bizarre burial records

PS I apologise for the comment spam on some of the pictures. I try to weed it out, but I haven’t caught all of them.

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Frightened to Death by Squirrels

I don’t get informed of the comments on pictures in my gallery, so every so often I go and have a look and find threads like this-

Comment: i like squirrels

Comment: squirrels scare me

Comment: scary!

Comment: helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp?


Comment: squirells are have a big diff with fairies


Comment: squirels are pretty gay and have nothing to do with fairies

Comment: How old are you?

Comment: uhm maybe the squirrel morphs into a fairy?

Comment: The squirrel is cute and stuff, but what has it got to do with fairies?

Comment: What the fuck has a squirrel got to do with fairies. and how on earth does that thing look cute. I say this because SQUIRREL’S SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment: this is supposed to be about fairies not squirrels

Comment: pppppppplllllllllllllluuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!! yuk


Comment: This is so retarted

Comment: Why do people have to curse? Does it make them feel mature or something? Your picture is nice.

Comment: I LUV IT!!!!!!!!!!! SO CUTE


Comment: FAIRIES AND SQUIRRELS< PULLEASE!!!!!!!!!! Comment: I LUV SQUIRRELS SO CUTE!!!! Comment: Is the Squirrel holding some Fairies lower body part in its paw’s? Comment: i seen a dead squirrell last nite on the main road … hmmmm X emo X

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I may have slipped a little behind on the one product a week schedule. Nonetheless, here is the second Frightened to Death by Fairies picture, available as a print in a variety of sizes. A larger preview is here.

The subtitle is “The Bargest puppet was very effective.”


IN the glossary to the Rev. Mr. Carr’s “Horae Momenta Carvenae,” I find the following: “Bargest, a sprite that haunts towns and populous places. Belg. berg, and geest, a ghost.” I really am not a little amused at Mr. Carr’s derivation, which is most erroneous. Bargest is not a town-ghost, nor is it a haunter “of towns and populous places;” for, on the contrary, it is said in general to frequent small villages and hills. Hence the derivation may be berg, Germ, a hill, and geest, a ghost–i.e., a hill-ghost; but the real derivation appears to me to be b�r, Germ, a bear, and geest, a ghost–i.e., a bear-ghost, from its appearing in the form of a bear or large dog, as Billy B–‘a narrative shows.

The appearance of the spectre-hound is said to precede a death. Like other spirits, Bargest is supposed to be unable to cross water; and in case any of my craven readers should ever chance to meet with his ghostship, it may he as well to say, that unless they give him the wall, he will tear them in pieces, or otherwise ill-treat them, as he did John Lambert, who, refusing to let him have the wall, was so punished for his want of manners, that he died in a few days.

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Forwarded by my mum, transcribed from a paper clipping found in the belongings of a village matriarch who passed away recently-

An amusing item from Lamplugh Church records is included in the current issue (1970) of �John Peel Jottings,� the magazine issued by S. Redmayne and sons of Wigton.
The article explains that from January 1658 to January 1663, there were only a few burials every year in Lamplugh, but at each burial the cause of death was recorded. The causes were later classified, and deaths from old age totalled 57.
some of the more interesting causes were:
�broke his neck robbing a hen roost,�
�Crost in Love�
�Broke a vein in bawling for a knight of ye shire�
�Overeat himself at a house warming�
�Led into a pond by a will o� the wisp� and
�Of a sprain in his shoulder saving his dog at Culgate.�
Four parishioners died �Of a five-bar gate stag hunt� while �Mrs. Lamplugh�s cordial bottle� saw off two of them.
No less than four died after being �Frightened to death by fairies.�
Three old women were �Drowned upon trial for witchcraft.�
Two people were killed �By ye parson�s bull� and three at Kelton Fell Races.
The greatest number to die by other than natural causes were �Bewitched,� and the register records that seven Lamplugh folk died in this way.

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You're only supposed to blow the bloody spores off!

All this week I’ve been working on a single image. It’s been quite an involved process, but now it’s finished. Based upon a silly thought I had last Saturday (before I’d even started drinking), it allowed me to experiment with the creation of Frightened to Death by Fairies images and deploy a terrible play on everyone’s favourite Michael Caine quote.

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Frightened to death by Blossom

I’m doing some character designs for the fairies of Frightened to Death by Fairies. First out of the renderer is Blossom. (Warning, the small amount of cloth she’s wearing is a bit diaphanous, rendering the image borderline NSFW.)

The intention is for each fairy to be a character in its own right. The register actually recorded four people frightened to death by fairies over a period of years, so there will be one image for each of these deaths and the same fae folk will keep turning up in them.

There are also two different tribes of fairy- the butterfly wings and the dragonfly wings. The Bs got the North side of Lamplugh and the Ds rule the mean lanes of the Southside. The politics of it all, and how they relate to the Will o’the Wisp and Scallow Beck Bogle, is far too complicated to go into right now.

Frightened to Death by Fairies

Frightened to Death by Fairies is a possible project for 2005. Based upon parish records from Lamplugh in the seventeenth century, it’s a collection of silly pictures based upon the reasons given for villagers’ deaths. (eg Frightened to Death by Fairies, Trampled to death by the Parson’s bull, Followed Will o’ the wisp into mill pond and drowned.) I’ve found a couple of books listing the reasons, and if I can sell the concept I’m going to the county records office to find more.

I’ve started a gallery of sketches from the project.

Frightened to Death by Fairies

I got this book from the library, along with a few graphic design tomes so I can get a grounding in the subject. I’m planning a few projects involving Faerie Folk, and it would be cool to homage those opium fuelled Victorians who painted them into so many pictures. One project is Dancing Through The Dark, a screenplay about, well, fairies. The other is another Epic proposal- W.H.O.: Frightened to Death by Fairies using some very obscure Marvel characters investigating anomalies, magic and superpowers.