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My Mysterious Moor II.

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posted on Feb, 3 2017 @ 06:36 PM
Buckfastleigh Church

Visible from the A38 Devon Expressway, overlooking Buckfast Abbey, starkly outlined in a ghostly slate grey, is the spire of Holy Trinity Church. This is just one of Dartmoor's many split personality locations; a walk round the disused old church and its graveyard on a bright sunny day, in the fresh moorland air, is as fine a tonic for the mind and soul, as the one famously produced at the nearby abbey. Visit this old edifice on a dark moonless night however, and the mind and soul might just take a backseat as the imagination takes take the wheel.

Holy Trinity shares a common legend with Brentor, (a church and location that I expect to feature in a later thread) Whereby the Devil attempted to thwart the construction of the church. This legend is to be found in the story of church building across the UK and most likely is a metaphorical allusion to the act of spiritual purification of a former site of pagan reverence by the establishment of a site of Christian worship (this practice will be explored more thoroughly at a later date).

A central feature of the churchyard is a sepulchral tomb surrounded by railings. The construction and cordoning of this family vault is, according to local legend, by deliberate design. The Cabell family were local landed gentry and Squire Richard Cabell is reputed to have been, what we would think of today, as the bucolic and terrorising local lord of the manor. Squire Richard is strongly suspected as being the inspiration for the title figure in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's epic The Hound of The Baskervilles, in which the famous fictional detective Sherlock Homes and Doctor Watson, are sent to Dartmoor to investigate reports of monstrous ghostly moorland hounds.

The tomb of the Cabell family could be considered one that was constructed to contain a spirit given to wandering that might wrought more of the havoc that it caused in life. In the Sixteen Hundreds Richard Cabell was squire at Buckfastleigh. Squires were originally servant deputies to Knights and many used their position to acquire wealth land and influence. Some were cruel and despotic local dictators who took what they wanted and indulged their passions while answering to none.

A squire with a passion for hunting, Richard was called, according to local legend "a monstrously evil man". He was reputed to have sold his soul to the Devil and rumoured to have murdered his wife. I have been unable to find any definite evidence for Richard murdering his wife, indeed evidence I have found suggests his wife survived him by fourteen years. As for the soul selling, I remain uncertain as to where I might begin my enquiries. Richard's date of death is recorded as the Fifth of July Sixteen Sixty Seven and legend says on the night of his burial a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. This adds further weight to the suggestion that our Squire was the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes story.

Legend claims that Squire Richard still leads the phantom pack across the moor annually on the anniversary of his death. In another version the hounds are to be be found ranging and howling and by the family tomb. All manner of demonic apparitions have reportedly been witnessed in the vicinity of the Cabell family tomb, how much of this can be put down to the location, the legend, and overactive imaginations is up for discussion. It is also said that if you stick your fingers through the bars around the grave on the anniversary of evil Squire's death either he, the hounds, or the Devil himself will bite you. I have not tried this and if you ever summon the courage to try this, please let me know what happens, assuming you still have the digits to type with.

The hill that Holy Trinity sits on is not one of Dartmoor's many Granite Tors, but is in fact, formed from a sedimentary limestone deposit. Rainwater seeping through limestone acquires a weak acidic quality which is capable of slowly dissolving the very rock it derives from. This natural process leads to the formation of many caves and tunnels within its structure, many of which are sufficiently large to permit exploration The cave and tunnel network beneath Holy Trinity are extensive, and in one cavern supposedly known as ‘Reed’s Cave’ there is reported to be a natural formation caused by the joining of a stalactite and a stalagmite that is known as "The Little Man" which is said to resemble a figure in Sixteenth Century Attire. The formation is reputedly situated directly beneath the Cabell family vault in the churchyard above. I have seen pictures of the figure and it could be interpreted as resembling human form, especially if that is what you want it to resemble. As for its supposed position beneath the Vault, I can find nothing. To explain how this was established or by whom, and I can assure you that I will not be forming any expeditions to attempt to establish this a s fact or fiction. Not because I am scared by the idea of supernatural cave dwelling entities, but because entering dark chasms filled with cold water is just not my idea of a great day out.

This legends of Evil squires and ghostly black hounds are very common throughout the British Isles, as is the practice of body snatching from graveyards for use in the medical profession. Holy Trinity's remote location was a factor in it being targeted by those seeking to profit from this macabre practice, but this is not particularly unusual. In fact the demand for bodies by a medical profession that paid good money, and asked no questions was behind a grave robbing epidemic. Policeman being stationed at graveyards overnight to foil the robbers is what lead to nightshifts being colloquially referred to as "The Graveyard Shift".

The church underwent considerable repair in Eighteen Eighty Four after it was struck by lightening. The lightening strike did not, as is it is sometimes reported take place during the Great Dartmoor Storm which took place much earlier in Sixteen Thirty Eight, when the much more famous church at Widdicombe in the Moor, seems to have experienced the very first recorded incidence of Ball Lightening. Holy Trinity was severely and deliberately damaged by arsonists on July the Eighth, Eighteen Forty Nine. It was reported in some newspapers of the time the attack was timed to coincide with the death of the Notorious Squire Richard Cabell in some nefarious, or even satanic homage. As we already know the ubiquitous squire was interred safely in his tomb by July the Fifth, so if some local Coven of Devil worshipers were attempting to honour their beliefs and by celebrating the death of a local squire, you would expect them to at least get the date.


posted on Feb, 3 2017 @ 06:36 PM
On the Twenty First of July Nineteen Ninety Two (that particular month does seem to be somewhat eventful for poor old Holy Trinity) a fire was deliberately started under the altar which went on to completely gut the church. Efforts to contain the blaze were severely hampered by the fact that the nearest hydrant was a quarter of a mile away and the fact that the water had to be pumped uphill. A relay of thirty eight seventy foot hoses was needed to get the water onto the seat of the fire. Once again "Satanists and Devil Worshipers" were blamed for the fire and once again there is not shred of evidence for this. It is still claimed by some that Satanists have or, are locally thought to have carried out black magic rites at Holy Trinity for hundreds of years around the Squire’s tomb in particular. I can find nothing to suggest this is true, or even believed to be true locally and is most likely another case of local oral tradition becoming folklore.

It is also claimed by others that the building which houses the tomb has a solid wooden door fitted at the back to prevent Satanists from gaining entry. Fitting a door to something that you wish to prevent entry to seems a bizarre thing to do. If the builder of a family vault wishes it to be used by descendants it would seem logical to incorporate a method of entry to the tomb that does not involve disassembling it.

This list of unfortunate events does somewhat obscure the fact that, as is evidenced by the number of internments in the churchyard and the years they span, that Holy Trinity served successfully for many years as a fully functioning parish church. As I said at the beginning on a dark night it would not be particularly surprising to see a group a robed and cowled adherents making its way to the ruined church to ritually deflower virgins, should they be able to find one, or sacrifice and drink the blood of a Christian, or whatever it is they actually do these days.

I will finish with a traditional local verse that is attributed to the area, and as this is a thread about moorland mysteries I will leave you with one. On occasion while passing Buckfast/Buckfastleigh on the A38 at night you may notice the spire of the disused Holy Trinity church is eerily illuminated. There is a reason for this, but as I said this is a mystery thread, so I am not going to tell you what that reason is.

The hag is astride
This night for to ride,
The devil and she together;
Through thick and through thin,
Now out and then in,
Though ne’er so foul be the weather.

A thorn or a burr
She takes for a spur,
With a lash of a bramble she rides now;
Through brakes and through briars,
O’er ditches and mires,
She follows the spirit that guides now.

No beast for his food
Dare now range the wood,
But hush’d in his lair he lies lurking;
While mischiefs, by these,
On land and on seas,
At noon of night are a-working.

The storm will arise
And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
The ghost from the tomb
Affrighted shall come,
Call’d out by the clap of the thunder.

My next thread in the series will be another Dartmoor UFO mystery like the one before this one. As before I sincerely hope this was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to compile.

posted on Feb, 3 2017 @ 10:08 PM
This was a very enjoyable read. Please continue writing about the moor. These are stories I've never heard before.

posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 01:41 AM
a reply to: CulturalResilience

It's great having local posts on here for a change
it is very atmospheric up there. I have lurked beneath holy trinity. When entering the main gate of the church yard directly behind you is a field with a concrete pipe popping up in the middle. On cold mornings is seems to smoke like a chimney. This is baker's pit cave system, the warmest cavein the UK. The original cave entrance collapsed I think many years ago and they decided an entrance using the pipes. The system winds its way beneath the church and various vocal exits and hidden exits are found lower down it a industrial nyard but they are protected entrances because of bats. Part of the cave system come so close to the graveyard that bones have been found washed out or poking through the ceilings withing the upper chambers adding to the creepy atmosphere of those upper caverns. (Caverns is a bit dramatic, think smaller.Much smaller) can't wait for my backyard of Brentor, PM me if I can be of any use.
edit on 4-2-2017 by ThePassenger because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 05:59 AM
Thanks, I will keep your kind offer in mind.
a reply to: ThePassenger

posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 06:21 AM
a reply to: CulturalResilience

Thanks for sharing the wonderful history and stories of this church. I'd love to visit and investigate a place just like this.

You left behind a little crumble of info on the mystery of the spire being illuminated occasionally, that little mystery has me intrigued of course. Could it be that since the spire is pyramidal in shape the sun or moon are reflecting on it in a way that causes it to illuminate at dusk or dawn ? I see a-lot of windows and door ways lining up on this video I watched showing the place, could the sun be shinning through these onto the spire ? I also see that the spire has a reddish look to it even in the daylight on the video I watched. So it meshes with the eerie red glow people have accounted for seeing.

I read that the spire was refurbished and the bells in it rehung. Do they still perform ceremonies at the ruins of the church ? If so perhaps they are illuminating the spire for this purpose, or is it simply happening naturally ?

Thanks for sharing. Wish I could visit places like this. Truly amazing.


posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 06:43 AM
a reply to: leolady

I'm very glad that you enjoyed the thread. Services including weddings are still held at the church and you are right when you suggest that natural light does illuminate the building under the right circumstances. The site is deliberately lit from time to time. You say you wish you could visit these type of sites. Does that mean you do not live in the UK if you don't mind my asking?

edit on 4-2-2017 by CulturalResilience because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 06:55 PM
a reply to: CulturalResilience

You are correct, I don't live in the UK. Yall have alot of good stuff to see... & I would so love to see it all :-)


posted on Feb, 4 2017 @ 09:50 PM
a reply to: CulturalResilience

Thank you for this awesome introduction to a fascinating location. In attempts to find investigative documentation about the cause of the 1992 arson fire, I came across a photo blog of the place Here.

Beautiful photos there. The cave sounds intriguing too. I have a habit of exploring underground spots, and would love to check it out one day. Great post!

posted on Feb, 5 2017 @ 05:55 AM
a reply to: leolady

If you do ever Travel to the UK I sincerely hope you get a chance to visit Dartmoor. I am certain you will find it as beautiful and fascinating. Dartmoor is a national park in God's own Glorious county of Devon.

posted on Feb, 14 2017 @ 09:35 AM
Thank you for that link, very nice pictures. I am glad you found the subject interesting.

a reply to: TheFatefulDay

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