Tales of Britain

By Jem Roberts

The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

The Rhymer & The Charmer

Happy Folklore Thursday!

First off, who in the Canterbury area fancies a FREE storytelling session on Saturday 21st of this very month? It will be the easternmost show we've ever done for sure, and currently we're waiting to hear back from The Shakespeare about whether they can accommodate us there, say 4pm, with books on sale? PLEASE give us a shout online if you'd be up for coming along...

Now, talking of our tale-telling travels, today's theme of WORDS, WRITING and so on gives us some pause for chagrin, as we've recently been visiting all the story sites we could on our journey to and from the Edinburgh Fringe. The borderlands are particularly studded with legends, many of which are in our book, and when it came to a toss-up between visiting the real places associated with TAM-LIN and THOMAS THE RHYMER… we went with the former option, without any connection to today's theme!

As we mentioned the last time Thomas cropped up – pretty much a year ago to the day – the Faerie-Queen-snogging basis of these two myths makes them twin tales, and we could have scoped out Earlston and visited the tower where the great seer Thomas wrote his obscure rhymes, but instead we paid a quick visit to Carterhaugh (actually only a short drive away), so we could finally see Tam-Lin's well for ourselves. 

As freely admitted in the past, not all of our 77 story tourist guides have been written from first-hand experience – we've yet to venture up to Shetland, for instance, or down to Guernsey – but there's such a thrill in following your own directions, and finding, to huge relief, that they pretty much chime exactly with the reality.

As we made our way past Selkirk, we found ourselves on a non-descript country lane very early on a Bank Holiday Monday morning, in search of the EttrickBridge where Tamlane (as we spelled his name) is dragged from his horse by his lover Janet, to save him from the sacrificial intent of Queen Titania, who rides on ahead on a black unicorn. We found the bridge, and beautiful it was, and we gazed into what was clearly what remained of Carterhaugh Wood, where Janet first had her fated run-in with the handsome lad… but it took directions from a busy farm worker to point out that we had sped right past the well itself, the place where Janet dragged the magically transmorphing Tamlane when he turned into a burning coal, and returned him to human form, wrapping him for protection in the green mantle of her dress – much to Titania's disgust…

It's only a tiny little spring water installation, and on a narrow road, so anyone driving would be advised to park a good distance away if they want to spend more than a couple of minutes at the well, let alone fully explore the wood in search of a red rose bush wrapping itself around a nutmeg tree with a white horse tethered to it… But we're very glad to have ticked off one more of our Tales of Britain locations. And so happy to hear that some of you out there are doing the exact same thing, exploring Britain's beauty spots via our treasury of tales!

Now, where shall we go next...?

Back to project page
Share on social

Top rewards

81 pledges


Ebook edition
Buy now
£25  + shipping
116 pledges

Super Patron Paperback

A first edition of the paperback plus the ebook and your name in the list of Super Patrons in the front of the book.