The Story behind the Parson and Clerk by Carole Langman

parson and clerk

Photo by David Gearing | Parson and Clerk rock with Dawlish behind | CC BY-SA 2.0 | Wikimedia

The stunning rock formation of the Parson and Clerk can be seen along the cliffs of Dawlish. If you’re travelling to the West Country by train, look out for the twin stacks of the Parson and Clerk as you pass through the Parson’s Tunnel along the coast.

The story behind this was that a local parson made frequent journeys to Dawlish, where the Bishop of Exeter lay ill. The parson was an ambitious man and hoped to further his career.

Although the parson’s clerk normally came with him, one night the weather was so stormy that they both lost their way. Angrily the priest shouted out that the Devil would make a better guide.

Whilst they were lost, they passed a farmer on the side of the road who kindly led them to safe house for the night. The parson and the clerk were looked after, before falling asleep at the house. Upon awakening, however, they were not in a bed, but out in the open on the rough ground. To make matters worse, they were also trapped on a pillar of rock in the sea and could see their horses on a nearby cliff. The farmer returned and revealed his true identity – the Devil. Cursing them both, the Devil sent both the Parson and his Clerk tumbling into the waves below, where they drowned. The iconic landmark is now known as the Parson and the Clerk.

Read more of our Saturday Stories HERE. 

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