Hidden East Anglia:

Landscape Legends of Eastern England











Landscape Features





The Devil, the church and the cross


The Stone Cross in March - or the base of it that remains - sits at the corner of The Avenue and Causeway Close (TL415957), possibly marking the site of an ancient market in the original village, and used later as a preaching cross. Although not far from St. Wendreda's church, legend says that the townsfolk wanted to build another church nearer the market place. But every night the Devil came and tore down what had been built the day before. The cross was erected to try and drive the Devil away - it succeeded, but the church was still never built.1


At the beginning of the 20th century, other legends about the Stone Cross were current among local children. It was said to have been a resting point for the body of an unnamed queen, who was being transported over a great distance to her burial place. Plus, children were told that, if they walked twelve times around the topmost step of the cross base, they would hear the Devil 'sharpening his knives'.2



1. Enid Porter: ‘Cambridgeshire Customs & Folklore’, (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), p.183-4.

2. Miss L. Morton of March: letter in the 'East Anglian Magazine', Vol.12, No.5, March 1953.



Cromwell's horses


Immediately south of Eastwood Avenue is an open field, all that remains of land once belonging to Cavalry Barn Farm. Local tradition says this name arose because 'Oliver Cromwell kept his horses there'. There is in fact a trace in this field of a small Civil War fortification, once known as 'Battery Hills' (TL421957).


Source: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=21902#n40





A gypsy grave


Somewhere along the road to Whaddon is a patch of trees known as Hornsea or Hadley Wood where a gypsy man and woman decided to camp one day. The woman falling ill, the man went to Meldreth for help but she died while he was away. Tradition says that he buried her there, marking the spot with a wooden stake that later grew into either a willow or ash tree.


Source: https://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/the-village/





Ghost Hill


Two fields away from Parson Drove is the stretched-out hamlet of Murrow. Here is said to be a small, isolated spot called Ghost Hill, haunted by the ghost of Oliver Cromwell. While his head is definitely in Cambridge, no one knows exactly where the Lord Protector's body is buried; but why it should be here, I don't know. Because it's so close, I think it's possible that this may be the same hill - again with an unspecified location - where Cromwell placed his cannon, at Parson Drove.


Source: Richard McKenzie: 'They Still Serve' (lulu.com, 2008), p.66.