t is fashionable to scoff at tales about fairies and giants, or to consign them to books intended for young children. This is not an error our forefathers would have made. They knew that the little people were very real denizens of Surrey - and that they had to be treated with proper respect.
The real fairies of past centuries were not gossamer-winged sprites engaged in painting flowers pretty colours or prancing about among the dew. They were a powerful tribe of diminutive humans around three feet tall who had the gift of flight and who lived in the wilder areas of rural Surrey. They had the ability to mislead humans, making them see and hear what the fairies wanted them to see and hear. They could steal away babies, ruin crops and turn butter sour. They could help humans or harm them according to their whims and capricious nature. Fairies had the gift of glamour, meaning that they appeared to be handsome, rich and charming even when intent on the most hideous of evil acts.
All in all, they were best avoided, but if that were not possible it was wise to placate them. In Surrey it was considered bad luck to call the fairies by their true name, so they were usually referred to as Farisees, which could be confused with the Pharisees of the Bible by outsiders.
One of the pranks that the farisees like to indulge in was to remove livestock from barns or fields at night and ride them at high speed until they were exhausted and covered in sweat. Then the hapless creature would be returned to the barn or field for the farmer to find it next morning. Whenever a horse, cow or pig was found in a sweat in the morning, the farmer knew that it had been “farisee ridden”. The only cure for this was to hang a flint on a piece of string so that it dangled just over the back of the animal in question. Farisees did not care for flint, so the stone would stop them getting on to the animal.
More practical folk might consider that an animal found to be all sweaty and exhausted in the morning might have been suffering from a fever, but traditional beliefs were slow to die. As late as 1920 a vet based in Guildford was called out to minister to a sick calf and found a flint dangling over its stall. “Best to be safe, you see,” explained the unabashed farmer.
from the book PARANORMAL SURREY by Rupert Matthews