Do you remember Siân? She told us some stories of haunted buildings on Newport Street and Old Town in Swindon from back in the early 1980s, back when she worked there. You can read it here if you haven’t seen it. One story in particular gave me the creeps. Check out the blog and see if any story stands out and gives you a bit of a shiver! I wonder if it is the same as me?
Let’s head to Clyffe Pypar, a little hamlet in Wiltshire
Siân sent me another article about some experiences in a Wiltshire hamlet, one involving a possible fairy experience. That’s what you’ll be reading today and I’m going to let Siân tell you these stories in her own words.
“This first story is from my sister who lived in Clyffe Pypard, just South of Royal Wootton Bassett. She now lives in Wales. We were discussing this a couple of weeks ago on Messenger in fact.
One of the public footpaths where she lives runs through the churchyard, and she’d often take her dogs for a walk with one or more of her children. I’ve done this walk myself when house-sitting for her. It’s a pleasant church and churchyard, very quiet. The path curves through the graves, out over a watery ditch, and across the fields, which are arable, although there are cows in some of the other fields.
She said she was walking back through the churchyard one autumn day when she heard the sound of galloping hooves coming closer. She looked around, although there was no way there could be a herd of horses in the churchyard, but her instinct was to get out of the way, and the dogs too, behaved with some alarm. The sound, she says, was almost on top of her, and then seemed to whirl upward into the air over her head, getting fainter and fainter.
She was relieved, but baffled and left quite quickly. She considered it might be a herd of cows in one of the nearby fields, except for the loudness, and the feeling that the hooves literally came to where she was, then galloped above her as if into the sky. There was no hunt at the time nor any horses to be seen in the village.
She said her house there felt rather ‘strange’ and wondered if it might be on a ley-line or something.
Sarsens and churches in Clyffe Pypard
St. Peter’s Church in Clyffe Pypard is quite interesting in itself.
Six of the buttresses have sarsen stones under them, only one of which has been cut to the shape of the buttress. The other five sarsens, one of which is very large, are left protruding as they do under the buttresses of the Church of St James, Avebury; the Church of St Katherine and St Peter, Winterbourne Bassett and the Church of St John the Baptist, Pewsey.
The Church of St Peter is situated at the bottom of a steep escarpment and is set in a well-cared for graveyard surrounded by trees. There is a distinct air of a ‘grove’ about the place which is reminiscent of the grove, and its disordered sarsens, by the river close to Pewsey Church. The leafy and sarsen-paved footpath that leads east past the church comes out on a secluded meadow with a magnificent tree at its centre.https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/focus-on-st-peters-church-clyffe-pypard/
There is certainly a ‘feel’ to that churchyard. I would not call it uncomfortable, but there is a definite atmosphere.
Fairies in the woods
My sister and eldest daughter also heard ‘faeire bells’ near a wood when they were out walking one summer afternoon (see the image below of the wood marked by a screenshot from Google Maps). You can see the footpath they used leading from the churchyard. One could turn off it and walk across the field to the woods.
(Wood accented by red, path in black)
At first, they thought these sweet, tinkling bells were from someone’s phone or radio or something, but the area is very rural and quiet as I can testify, having house-sat for my sister a few times.
She and her daughter continued walking toward the wood and the bells sounded again and louder, at which point they stopped and looked at each other, very puzzled. More slowly, they began to walk again and then heard the bells again, and there was something about them which caused them to stop once more. Then they heard laughter, lovely but eerie and both of them turned and ran! When I questioned my niece about it she grimaced and agreed that they did. It was, they both said, uncanny.
Something that I only stumbled across a couple of years after she heard this was in a book called Faerie Sightings by Marjorie T. Johnson which mentioned the Lordly Ones being seen at Clyffe Pypard in the years of WWII (when I sent my sister the book and pointed this out, she boggled!)
Liminal is a word I would use for all that area. We used to take the dogs up a lane where on the left there are very marked strip lynchets and there is a very, very ‘old’ feeling. And the quiet…it may be to do with the escarpment which is where the ‘Clyffe’ in the name originated. But it is so very quiet.
Once, walking through the churchyard toward the wood where my sister heard the bells it was a still, summer afternoon and so quiet, save for the ‘pruuk’ of a raven in the sultry warmth (the first time I ever heard one outside Wales).”
A bit about Clyffe Pypard
I confess to not having heard of Clyffe Pypard before reading this account, but then it is a very small settlement, a hamlet more than a village located in the Northern half of Wiltshire.
Just five miles from Avebury, you’ll not be surprised to hear archaeological finds, such as arrowheads, coins, jewellery, and skeletons show evidence of a period of early settlement, extending from Neolithic to Pagan-Saxon times.
It is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1066 so people have lived on the lands here for many centuries. It was noted there were several wooded areas back then, surrounded by the rolling chalk downlands of the area. There are several springs and streams that run from the bottom of the chalk escarpment which stretches right through the parish. Up until the days of the car it would have been very rural and cut off from the bustle of life. Just the sort of place, with all the right Fae ingredients, where you would expect to hear about fairies! How else do you explain it?
And galloping horses? Well, there will have been many coming through this area over the years. There would probably have been several living in the village at any one time. Could the unmistakable sound (and I have stood in the middle of galloping horses many times throughout my horse-owning years so can confirm this!) have been some sort of residual sound from an event in time?
I have perused all my usual sources for any mentions of paranormal or Fae activity for this little place, and there is none. It’s not to say other people haven’t had experiences in Clyffe Pypard; it’s just no one has recorded them or they have been lost in time, until now!
With many thanks to Siân for taking the time to share these stories with us. I’ve really enjoyed them all, particularly the fairy bells story. Little experiences that get stored in the unexplained files, with all the other tales from Weird Wiltshire.
Siân was born in rural Oxfordshire but now lives in Swindon with her partner and is self-employed.
Her grandmother, ‘a wonderful orator,’ used to relate ghost stories to her and Siân developed an interest in the paranormal from a young age. She is open-minded but not credulous and is more interested in reading or hearing local accounts and stories rather than the famous hauntings that appear in most books and tv series dealing with this subject.
Siân at Dyfennog Yew in the Brecon Beacons last autumn. It may be 5,000 years old and has an incredible presence!
If you enjoy my weird tales from Wiltshire and beyond and can spare a few pennies please head over to Ko-fi and buy me a cuppa. Every bit is used to help bring you more stories. I sure would appreciate it!
Stay spooky everyone!
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