Stories in PLace -Part 1

I’ve been looking into local tales and folklore. They form an important part of a place, engaging the teller and listener with their surroundings. I didn’t know at the time, but one of my childhood favourites is very much a local tale.

When we were kids, we were told that if you weren’t up the stairs and in bed the by 9pm, the Nine O’Clock Horses would come and take you away. I haven’t yet found any evidence that anyone was taken by the nine o’clock horses, but I can tell you that 5 year old me (below) was desperate to ride away on the back of a phantom pony. My sister was terrified of horses and the threat worked!

5 year old Jayne is seated on a pony being led by an older child in jeans. Jayne is grinning from ear to ear

As an adult I learned the tale is based in local history. Back before Leicester had a functioning sewerage system, workers would come at take away the ‘night soil’. They came after dark and of course people would hear the clip clop of carts pulled by horses. The fear was that the Night Soil Men would steal any children foolish enough to be around after dark. It’s likely that the Night Soil Men were from the lowest classes and as such were blamed for all kinds of things they didn’t actually do, including abduction.

This is a comic strip by my friend and fellow artist Charlotte Thomson. You can see it on her instagram here. It inspired me to want to a. get more ponies into lace, b. make some folklore-inspired artworks myself. See part 2 for the tale I chose to work with…

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