Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Devil Jumps into Churt, Surrey

A very different sort of monster once lurked on the hills just east of Churt. These hills are highly distinctive being a line of three sharp, steep hills that rise out of the otherwise fairly level common land to a height of 375 feet. It was none other than the Devil himself who frequented these hills. For some reason best known to himself, the evil one enjoyed jumping from one hilltop to the next and back again. Whenever he came to Surrey, the Devil would leap about on the hills, thus giving them their name of The Devil’s Jumps.

Just two miles to the east lived a blacksmith named Thunor in Thursley. This Thunor was prodigiously strong, but he did like his sleep. And when the Devil came at night the sounds of the jumping kept the blacksmith awake. One night it all got too much for him. Thunor came tearing out of his house in a terrible rage. seeing a  huge boulder by the roadside, he lifted it up and hurled it at the Devil. The rock struck the Devil in the chest and sent him sprawling in ungainly fashion. So surprised was the Devil by this blow that he raced off back to Hell and never again came to the hills between Churt and Thursley.

It is an interesting tale, made more fascinating by the fact that the village of Thursley derives its name from the Old English “Thunor’s Leagh”. A leagh was a grove of trees, however Thunor was no blacksmith but instead the pagan god Thunor - the English equivalent of the Viking Thor. The pagan English liked to worship their gods in sacred clearings or groves, and there can be no doubt that Thursley was one such pagan holy place. Quite how the pagan  god Thunor got into conflict with the arch demon of the Christian religion we can only guess at.

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