Guy Fawkes Day – Shebbear & the Turning of the Stone by Carole Langman
The 17th century Devil’s Stone Inn, a former farmhouse, was converted to an Inn some 400 years ago. It is located in the town of Shebbear, between Hatherleigh and Holsworthy in North-West Devon. The Inn itself was named after the local Devil’s Stone and there is also a hidden tunnel legend linking the pub to the church.
The Devil’s Stone lies in the village square to the East of the church. It is made from a type of quartz not found in the area, measuring about six by four feet. Every year on 5th of November, while the rest of the country is burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes, Shebbear has it’s own ritual of turning the Devil’s Stone. The one-ton boulder is turned over by village bell-ringers, after which the bells are rung at the local church in discord at 8pm, to ensure the safety of the village for another year.
Indeed, there’s a wealth of legend surrounding the stone. One story suggests it was dropped by the Devil when St Michael cast him out of heaven. Furthermore, it is said the Devil himself lies under the stone. Some say the Devil threw the stone at the church, but missed. Another legend says the stone was to be the original foundation stone for Henscott Church, and was moved every night by supernatural means across the River Torrage. This may tie in with the underground tunnel, perhaps as a means of moving the stone?
Correspondingly, many villages had a Mark or Dobbie stone, which they made offerings to. A Dobbie stone was a special kind of stone that gave protection from witches, fairies and dobbies (spirits or ghosts). It is also fair to mention Anglo Saxons may have simply placed Devil’s Stone as some kind of boundary stone.
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About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.