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English folklore

Related subjects: Myths

Background Information

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English folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in England over a number of centuries. Some stories can be traced back to their roots, even predating the Roman invasion of Britain, while the origin of others is uncertain or disputed. England abounds with folklore, in all forms, from such obvious manifestations as the traditional Arthurian legends (which were originally strictly Britonic) and Robin Hood tales, to contemporary urban legends and facets of cryptozoology such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

English folklore could be considered a brief look at the not well known mythology of the Anglo-Saxons, though it also has Welsh influences, perhaps evidence of a predominantly non-hostile Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain or it could be because of the Norman's replacement of a great deal of English legends with Britonic ones.

Morris dance and related practices such as the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance preserve old English folk traditions, as do Mummers Plays. Pub names may preserve folk traditions.

Most folklore traditions are no longer widely believed. Whereas some traditions were once believed across the whole of England, most belong to specific regions:

Folklore of England

  • Black dog
  • Brownie
  • Chime hours
  • Corn dolly
  • Cunning folk
  • Drake's Drum
  • Dwarves
  • Elves
  • Ettin
  • English Country Dance
  • Flibbertigibbet
  • Green Man
  • Hag Stone
  • Lob
  • May Queen
  • Maypole dance
  • Maypole
  • Oak Apple Day
  • Ogres (or Trolls)
  • Parish Ale
  • Petrifying well
  • Robin Goodfellow is a troublesome elf or hobgoblin
  • Saint Swithun - English weather lore
  • Standing stones and chalk figures in the United Kingdom are the focus for folktales and beliefs.
  • Well dressing
  • Wild Hunt
  • Wyrms

Folklore of East Anglia

  • Babes in the Wood at Wayland Wood
  • The Black Shuck
  • St. Edmund of East Anglia
  • Hereward the Wake
  • Molly dance
  • Old King Cole and St Helena
  • Caxton Gibbet
  • Green children of Woolpit

Folklore of London and the South East

  • Sir Bevis of Hampton
  • Bran the Blessed's Head at the Tower of London
  • Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London
  • Gog and Magog, legendary giants and guardians of the City of London
  • Herne the Hunter
  • Hoodening
  • London Bridge is falling down
  • Mallard Song
  • Legend of the Mistletoe Bough
  • Oranges and Lemons
  • Rollright Stones
  • Spring Heeled Jack
  • Swan Upping
  • Saint Swithun, patron of English weather lore
  • Uffington White Horse
  • Wayland the Smith

Folklore of the Midlands

  • Black Annis
  • Alkborough Turf Maze
  • Border Morris
  • Bottle-kicking
  • Dun Cow
  • St. Frideswide
  • Fulk FitzWarin
  • Godiva
  • Guy of Warwick
  • Haxey Hood Game
  • Lincoln Imp
  • Major Oak
  • Robin Hood
  • Royal Shrovetide Football
  • Wise Men of Gotham
  • The Wizard of Lincoln
  • The Giant of the Wrekin
  • Yallery-Brown
  • Tiddy Mun

Folklore of Yorkshire and the North East

  • The Barghest
  • The Cauld Lad of Hylton
  • St. Cuthbert
  • The Devil's Arrows
  • Duergar
  • Jack-In-Irons
  • Jenny Greenteeth
  • Jingling Geordie's Hole
  • Laidly Worm
  • Kilburn White Horse
  • The Lambton Worm
  • Long Sword dance
  • My Own Self
  • Peg Powler
  • Rapper sword
  • Red Cap
  • Robin Hood
  • Ursula Southeil
  • Wibbly Woo

Folklore of the North West

  • The Wizard of Alderley Edge
  • Eachy
  • Folklore of Lancashire
  • Long Meg and Her Daughters
  • Pendle Witches
  • Wild Boar of Westmorland

Folklore of the South West

  • Abbotsbury Garland Day
  • Barber surgeon of Avebury
  • King Bladud, legendary founder of Bath
  • Bowerman's Nose
  • Cerne Abbas giant
  • Cheese rolling
  • Childe's Tomb
  • Corineus, legendary founder of Cornwall
  • St. Dunstan is the origin of the lucky horseshoe
  • Glastonbury and its abbey
  • Hunky Punk
  • Jay's Grave
  • Lyonesse
  • The Obby Oss of Padstow
  • Pixies and Piskies
  • The Reynardine is a werewolf of Dartmoor
  • Jan Tregeagle
  • The Great Thunderstorm, Widecombe
  • Widecombe Fair
  • The Witch of Wookey Hole
  • Jack the Giant Killer and Galligantus
  • Rabbit rabbit

Folklore in song

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