This film is part of Free

The Pixies of Ottery St Mary

Pixies pop up everywhere before being banished once again from the town.

News 1963 1 mins Silent

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Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Pixie Day is an annual midsummer’s day tradition that takes place in June in Ottery St Mary in Devon. The day commemorates the legend of the pixies being banished from the town into the caves known as Pixies’ Parlour. Folklore has it that a spell cast on the monks transporting bells to the newly-built church redirected them to the cliffs of Sidmouth but as the monks were about to fall one stubbed his toe and the spell was broken when he said “God bless my soul!”

On the Saturday nearest to midsummer’s day the pixies come out of the caves to imprison the bell-ringers but the vicar steps in to shoo off the pixies and free them. This is re-enacted every year. The original Pixies' Parlour is a sandstone cave on the River Otter. The Cornish name for pixie is spriggan and linked to Cornish tin mining. The earliest published version in 1853 of the Three Little Pigs’ story is from Dartmoor but in place of the pigs there are three little pigsies or pixies. The growth of the name pixie comes from old West Country dialect which swapped the letters in some words taken from old Saxon so piskies became piksies or pixies.