The Devil’s Footprints

The Devil's Footprints 1855

The Devil’s Footprints 1855

The second quirky piece of verse concludes the myths and legends of Teignmouth – The Devil’s Footprints.

The legend goes back to 1855 when a trail of ‘cloven hoof’ footprints appeared overnight in Teignmouth and extended from the Exe estuary to the river Dart. The trail crossed the rivers, went over roofs, across trees – in fact it just went straight over anything in its path. The story was reported locally and in the Illustrated London News with much speculation on the origin of the footprints but no definite explanation ….. and the mystery remains today.

I have found a few poems about this story. The others may well appear as later posts.

The Devil’s Footprints
(John Parslow)

On one peculiar precipitous night in February eighteen fifty five,
A dense and heavy fall of snow in the south of Devon arrived,
In the towns of Topsham, Lympstone, Exmouth, as everyone asleep,
Teignmouth and Dawlish in a cloak of white were buried very deep.

On waking villagers saw thousands of strange foot-tracks on the roof,
Bipedal steps at eight inch gaps all with a convex cloven hoof,
Over five parishes they extended covering an area of one hundred miles,
On tops of houses, high narrow walls with palings – even over styles.

They covered local gardens, enclosed courtyards bounded by walls wide,
Vertically up drainpipes tall, up fences and down the other side,
And trails would suddenly stop as if the creature vanished into thin air,
Right in the middle of open fields as though it landed or took off from there.

The locals were shocked to discover the tracks of an animal so strange,
A mysterious creature endowed with the power of ubiquity and such range,
Approaching and retreating many dwellings but no resting place was found,
Only the cloven-hoof marks on two legs were left as markers on the ground.

Rather than navigate a straighter course possible for any creature to follow,
It steered the most complicated of climbs over every acclivity and hollow,
The greatest excitement was caused among all classes athwart the land,
The superstitious believing they were the marks of Satan or his band.

So what did happen on that night in early February eighteen fifty five?
Some thought it could be Extraterrestrial beings others thought it best to hide,
The eyewitness’s of hundreds was later printed in the Times, so long ago,
As to what the creature was on a spree that night- perhaps we’ll never know …

Want to know more?  Check out:

The Devil’s Footprints …..

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