Corfe in 3d


Corfe - 3d image.

Although not mentioned in the Domesday Book Corfe has existed since Norman times. Its name is said to derive from an ancient word meaning ‘gap’ or ‘pass’ and this is borne out by the cleft in the hillside which takes the Honiton road over the Blackdown Hills from the village.

In the 18th century some hopefuls’ of Corfe went in search of the legendary riches associated with Castle Neroche, which is about 3 miles to the south-east. They took with them a local parson armed with salt and holy water, and arranged for the church bells to ring out as protection against the Devil, who reputedly guarded the treasure. Excavations began and, the story goes,

One man struck a large stone, which on lifting out disclosed an iron-bound trunk, the treasure chest! In his excitement he rapped out an almost blasphemous oath, and immediately the trunk sank down back into the large hole it had previously occupied which then closed up. Disheartened, they left their tunnel, but came back the next evening and for a few more times, but ill-fortune dogged them. One stubbed his hand on an old tree stump, another had his foot crushed, and finally, one sultry evening when the whole air was tense with a brooding thunderstorm, their nerves gave way in panic, and with yells of terror, they dropped their tools, and in deadly fear scattered to the woods, to find their way later to the security of the village. Once there they could hardly speak coherently to explain what had happened save that “there was devils up in the mount, they know’d there was, cos they’d yer’d em and zeed ‘em too”. They nearly all took sick, some died in a raging fever, other recovered, but shaken and broken men: and all the band, through terrible accidents or lingering sickness were dead before the year was out’.

Sources: The Avon Village Book by The Avon Federation of Women’s Institute and Somerset The Complete Guide by Robin Bush.

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