In Lancashire there used to be many mosses known by a colour, such as the Green Moss (Astley) The White Moss (Skelmersdale), the Red Moss (Clitheroe) and naturally the appropriate Boggart was the Green, White, or Red as the case might be.
JACK O' LANTERN (the bog light)
Jack o' lantern was the decoy used by the Boggart to entice the unwary traveller into the Moss, who, when they saw the lights thought they were travelling on firm and safe ground, Until it was too late, and they were sucked into the moss.
During the long winter evenings the able croft man had to provide his own amusements at his own or his neighbours fireside. Back then he could not read, but he could sing the folk songs and recount, in his own dialect, descriptive and humorous stories and pieces of folk lore – of witches and boggarts – not forgetting the “ Dongla (Dunkenhalgh) Boggart”, which, after several futile attempts, was at last effectively “laid” by the vicar of Mitton, and was forbidden to appear again “while hollins were green”.
Through the lower part of the grounds of the Dunkenhalgh Manor flows the river Hyndburn, and there is also a small ravine. From the stone bridge a passage proceeded to another bridge, near the old kitchen gardens, known as the "Boggart Bridge". This brings up the story of the Dunkley Boggart (modern day spelling), which old residents spoke of with bated breath. In our Great Grandfathers time many a fearful and furtive glance was cast around by people compelled to pass Dunkenhalgh after nightfall. Not "for love nor money" could anyone be prevailed upon to pass that way at the witching hour of midnight on Christmas Eve.
On the old road between Great Harwood and Blackburn, as it approaches the New Inns at Rishton, there was once found a bog or marsh on the right hand side of the Road.
This bog traversed the boundary between Rishton and Great Harwood, adjoining Harwood Road and Blackburn Old Road.
At the side of this was a barn, and it was near here that the Boggart could be found.
THE TALE OF THE GREEN BOGGART.
Twice a year, when the moon was full, Owd Hob (Owd Hob was the chief of the Boggarts) held a meeting which all the Boggarts and their wives, and the Jack o' Lanterns were commanded to attend. Failure to obey owd Hob's summons was likely to result In a loss of evil powers granted by him. A ring of stones indicated the actual site of the meetings on Anglezarke (Rivington) On the night of the meeting, Owd Hob would be seated on his throne (A large rock of mill stone grit) ready to receive his guests.
On one of these occasions the Green Boggart was getting rather worried, As his total of victims showed a drop and he had noticed for quite a while That his Jack o' Lantern's light was getting dimmer each day, and that his Wife's hair and features were turning from a bright green to a yellowish brown. She was also very discontented.
The reason for this was that the forkypeds (the Humans) had begun to drain his moss land To raise all kinds of crops and to graze their cattle. The Green Boggart knew that his evil powers were useless on dry land as the Forkypeds Protected their homes with magical signs, charms and rhymes. Another reason for the green Boggart to be worried was he remembered the Yellow Boggart approaching Owd Hob several meetings ago, with the same problem, And owd Hob getting angry as the Yellow Boggart recited his tale of woe.
Owd Hob had been so enraged that from his mouth he blew a white-hot flame Which engulfed the Boggart his wife and his Jack o' Lantern, and they were never seen or heard of again.
However when Owd Hob heard the Green Boggarts report, he did not destroy him and his accomplices, But told them they would have to do better or take the consequences. The reports from the other Boggart were much the same, the Forkypeds were draining the mosses For crops and cattle.
Soon after the above meeting of Owd Hob and the Boggarts on Angelzarke, The green Boggart became worried and restless. His domain was originally all the Moss land North of the river Mersey, between Manchester, Warrington, and as far north as Wigan. These Moss lands Included Barton Moss, Chat Moss, Astley Moss, Rixton Moss, and Lowton Moss, as well as many others, And owing to natural drainage over the centuries and to the cutting of canals for transport as well as drainage, the whole area was beginning to dry out and become suitable for farming and habitation. Places with such names as A'Warsley (Worsley), Mossley, and Moss side give some indication of land recovered from the Moss.
From the green Boggarts view this was disastrous. For many a weeks there had not been a single Forkyped, or animal trapped in the Moss, leaving the Green Boggart and his wife Jinny and Jack o' Lantern very little to eat. The Green Boggart decided he would have to do something about it. He wandered all over northern Cheshire seeking Suitable Moss land which was unoccupied by another Boggart. As long as he kept away from places and people protected by charms and spells, he was invisible and could move around as he wished.
One day as he was searching in west Cheshire, he must have crossed the border into Wales. He noticed a Forkyped of great beauty, seated by a small fire this female was dressed in black and had long black lustrous hair. The Boggart went up to her where she sat in front of a small cave on the mountainside. She bade him welcome and told him to rest awhile and sup with her. She was no other then Morgan La Faye, sorceress, who normally lived with Merlin the wizard at Camelot.
Although the Boggart was invisible to ordinary Forkypeds he was quite visible to Morgan La Faye, who asked him why he was wandering so far from his usual haunts. The Boggart told her of all his troubles and worries and that he was looking for new moss land. Morgan La Faye was amused that one of the enemies of the human race should tell her his troubles and seek her advice as to what he should do.
After considerable thought she said that she could give him power to assume the shape of a human when it suited him. Also if it so happened he was to be attacked etc., such as having his head cut off or an arm or leg severed, he would instantly regain his normal shape; All wounds would heal straight away, but warned him all his powers would be lost if he came Into contact with someone protected by charms and spells; also he must renounce his allegiance to owd hob and must not in future refer to humans as forkypeds.
After some thought the green Boggart decided to accept Morgan La Faye's proposals and then they began to discuss the important matter as to where the Boggart and his wife were to live, and how. First came the question of his wife Jinny Greenteeth. Morgan La Faye agreed to rejuvenate her, But she would have to have the colouring of a normal human and carry out all the duties and practices of an ordinary housewife. With regards to living quarters, the sorceress said she would help to build a moated castle for them, if the Boggart could find a suitable place to build it. The Boggart knew the very place, A Clough or Delph to the east of Manchester, near Prestwich and not very far from Bury. It was a wild and lonely valley with only one way as entrance and exit. It was well wooded with trees on all sides and the country around was wild and desolate.
Morgan La Faye agreed that it would be an ideal spot for the purpose. She said she knew the place well and that by the time the Boggart returned to his old moss land the castle would be ready for him and his wife; She also said they would have to leave jack o' lantern to fade away and die, as there was no further use for him. With regard to food the Boggart and his wife would have to live like normal humans and he would have to use his powers of becoming invisible to forage around the villages and folds for whatever food they needed. The castle was to be named The Boggart Hole, and the Clough, to this day, is known as Boggart Hole Clough.
The Boggart and Jinny lost no time in taking over the castle, and were very soon comfortably Settled and only just in time, as the moss land had almost completely dried out.
Morgan la Faye was a frequent visitor to the Boggart hole Clough, and the Green Boggart was enthralled by her tales of Camelot. In spite of Morgan La Faye's visits the green boggart would often get bored, and used to relive his boredom by playing pranks on people and their animals. One trick was to make himself very small and creep into the ear of a horse; frightening it so much it would gallop madly in any direction open to it. This madness in old times was known as "Takking Boggarts". He also used to visit houses where they had not taken the trouble to protect themselves with a charm or spell, he would make himself invisible and enter the house, then all sorts of strange things he would make happen, such as pots and pans, crockery and ornaments would seem to fly off sideboards, chairs would move and water would throw itself onto the fire, and doors would open and shut themselves.
The following story tells of a typical Boggart prank.
Up to a few years ago there used to be a row of houses in swan Lane, Hindley Green, which were called the boggart Houses. Owd Moe, was a boss of one of the pits in the area, maybe the Bugle Horn, I am not sure, but he lived in Swan Lane.
He had a big black cat, of which he was very proud. At night the cat had a habit of wandering the Boggart Houses. In one of these houses lived a bad tempered, dirty elderly man who was known as Sammy Stinker. He had no friends and lived alone. One day the Green Boggart, who was at a loose end and happened to be wandering about that part of the country, called at stinker's house and asked for a drink of water. This of course was just an excuse to get into the house.
In spite of Sam's very rude refusals, the Boggart who had adopted the form of a human edged himself into the house. After a while he managed to overcome Sam's objections by using his Boggart blarney, and managed to get Sam to play a game of dominoes with him. This game lasted for several hours, and the Boggart told tales of the wonderful and magical things that he had done in his life time. The Boggart noticed that there was a beam running across the room with a fairly large hook driven into it, and near one end from the hook hung a strong clothes line. After a while the Boggart suddenly said to Sam "Dose tha know Sam, that ah wor a Boggart til aw ma mosses dreighd up?"
"now a didn't know" replied Sam.
The Boggart continued "ah've noan fergetten any o mi owd tricks, and ah've a mahnd t'show thi some o' um". The Boggart indicated the hook and rope, and suggested to Sam that he could hang him (The Boggart) in a real hangman's fashion, provided that he could hang Sam afterwards. Sam thinking it was a real push-over told the Boggart to stand on a chair whilst he slipped A noose round his neck. He then made the other end of the rope fast to a wall bracket, leaving nearly a foot slack in the rope, still on the hook. When he had done this he snatched the chair from under the Boggarts feet and the Boggarts weight jerked the rope tight and left him dangling about six inches from the floor. When the body had been hanging several minutes, Sam had a good look at the Boggart and was sure he was dead. He stood for a minute or two, then decided to go to the local pub, (The Aleck) he went to get his coat and hat from the back place. He returned to the front room and noticed to his horror that the Boggart was sitting by the table. "Well", said the Boggart, "its tha turn neaw Sam".
The Boggart strung Sam up with the rope on the hook and make no mistake, Sam was well and truly dead when the Boggart left the house. After a day or two the neighbours began to wonder about Sam, as no one had seemed to have seen or heard him, so they decided to investigate. When they did they found Sam hanging peacefully dead. One thing they also noticed was that all the chairs had been placed in their proper position with their seats under the table. This puzzled them, because if Sam had hung himself he would have kicked the chair away, So they all agreed it was the Boggarts doing. One or two of them had said they had seen a big black shape mauling about the houses after dark many a time and this must have been the Boggart. The incident was for a long time the main topic of conversation in the taproom at the Alick, especially as people kept reporting they had seen the big black shape mauling around Sam's, Which had remained unoccupied since the incident.
Two characters by the names of Lazarus and Juddy who were regulars at the pub, kept on talking over the incident and they finally decided that they would do something about it. So one night they entered Sam's old house, first they made sure that the rope and hook was in place, then they sat in the dark and waited. About midnight the men were disturbed, there was someone coming into the house, and sure enough, there was a black shape moving around the room. Grab him they shouted, and while Lazarus was getting the noose a terrible struggle started, accompanied by a lot of spitting and hissing and other noises that sounded like cursing in a foreign language. After a long and fierce struggle, in which Lazarus got very badly scratched, they managed to get the noose over the shapes head. They pulled as hard as they could on the rope. "That's getten him awreet, let him ger eawt o that". The two men then crept out of the house and went home to bed, where they had a few hours sleep, then they had to go to their work at the pit.
During the following day owd Moe was making a great to do about his cat that had not been seen since the night before. That night Lazarus and Juddy paid their usual visit to the Alick's and started to brag as to how they had fought and hanged the Boggart in Sam's house. They invited all the other men to accompany them and have a look at the hanging Boggart. About a dozen or so went to the house and went inside. Hanging from the beam was, not the Boggart, But owd Moe's black cat. The other men laughed and said "Th owd Boggarts done it again." Owd Moe was furious when he found out and vowed Lazarus and Juddy would never work at his pit as long as he was alive. Lazarus and Juddy however, firmly believed that it was the Boggart they had hanged, but that due to some magic he had managed to get loose and hanged the cat in his place.
Old stories of boggarts and owd Hob and his followers, are all but long forgotten in this modern day and age, dismissed as tales to scare the children. But today are our Boggarts of other planets? Or the gremlins that attack our machinery. We today as man in day gone by, have beliefs and who's to say what is true or fantasy. Beware the Boggart could still be there!