Two little girls, a century ago
Crossed a stream in their garden to play
"But we can see no Fairies here"
"We'll perhaps see some today".
Then a game they made to show
That Fairies were indeed there
In that lovely garden,
a long long time ago.
They borrowed Daddy's camera
And filmed Fairies flying round
With gossamer outstretched
And showed all what they'd found.
The people were astonished
They couldn't understand
How children so young, inexperienced
Had filmed a Fairy band.
No one could find a flaw
In the pictures the children took
And all declared them genuine
Then someone wrote a book.
Their fame spread far and wide
People flocked to see
The stream and the glade
Where the Fairies were said to be.
But, like all things human
The excitement soon went away
Leaving that lovely garden
Littered, broken and grey.
All the damage that was done
The Family did repair
The children, to their Parents
Said, "Never again, we swear".
Many years have passed
Since that fateful day
The children, now old ladies
Came clean, as to how they
Had filmed the Fairies in the glen
With cardboard cutouts on cotton strings
For Fairy wings.
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden
I know you won't believe me but it's true
There are fairies at the bottom of our garden
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson; they both knew
Come a May morning
When the church bells ring
And the blackbirds sing
And the stream splashes down off the fell
You must shout 'I believe' as well
Out of the corner of your eye
That sparkle flashing by
Might not be a dragonfly
And who would want to say farewell
To Peter Pan's friend Tinkerbell.
The Cottingley Fairies were an illusion,
But don't believe all is delusion.
Children love fantasy, as Harry Potter shows;
Santa Claus, Tinkerbell, Robin Hood and those
Who fill our childish dreams
So, if you are very young,
Not more than five or so,
You may see a fairy in the moonlight glow.
Something may be different,
Not always what it seems.
Let adults have their logic and children have their dreams.
We scrubbed and rubbed and polished,
We brushed and cleaned the floor.
Such Sabbath night activity had never been seen before.
The Monday morn was bright and clear,
Dressed in our best we did appear.
The hats did really us amaze,
Some of us felt in quite a daze.
The church was packed, we waited hours,
Admiring the beauty of Irene's flowers.
The Prince arrived, we heard the crowd
Of children waving, with cheers so loud.
A lovely service, well expressed,
Then to the War Memorial we processed.
Lilian carried our banner high,
We were so proud as all passed by.
The Prince shook hands with young and old.
For many a day the story is told
Of how our village, remote from all,
Was on the map when the Prince came to call.
Cottingley men have tilled the soil a thousand years ago,
The carucates were covered by the oxen slow.
The Manor changed places but the name lingers on;
The one by the farm has long since gone.
The old Sun Inn, now further up the hill,
Gave refreshment to the traveller and does so still.
The blacksmith's now a garage, also once a school,
Has turned to"shoeing" cars
Where once children learnt the rule.
The industrial age brought work to all;
Many had to answer to the Mill buzzer's call.
Victoria's reign brought a new church, St.Michael's,
Remembered with regret,
And the Town Hall for worship and education was set.
Now, up the hill the next church went,
On the plain known as the Prairie.
I don't know why it got that name
But it must have been quite airy!
Houses sprouted everywhere,
The Parade brought many a shop.
Then, like now, it seems the builders never stop.
Forty years on, as some grow old,
Many tales of the village can be told.
The church served us well for many a year
Till vandals, faults and weathering brought oft a tear.
We pray that, soon, in every street,
Respect for each other and our village we'll meet.
Hope springs eternal! Along came Sue,
Followed much later by H.R.H. too.
And plans follow plans, it's all on the board;
We're saving up money till we have a hoard.
While Bill and Sue hold the Cornerstone together with glue
Of wisdom, diplomacy and hard work too.
So let us rejoice, in spite of our woes,
Cottingley, one day, will blossom like the rose.
The following two poems by Sergio Mouat (www.sergiothepoet.com) were written following a visit to Cottingley with his wife Marlene (née Seal) and were published in his book "To Life Verses of Love and Hope" (second edition)in 2001. He is originaly from Chile, and he met and married Marlene in Canberra Australia fourteen years ago.
I yield and withdraw, fleeing
the noise, the smoke and the City
I look for a place to rest and think
and in a solitary location I find.
An ancient stone bridge
nothing of sand or cement
stone by stone it was made
to support the weight of centuries.
It's curves perfect and symmetrical
reach down on both sides to the creek,
the hardwood handrail has lasted
and will endure for years to come.
A tree on each side, like sentinels
watching the passing of people
across the rush of centuries
the bridge a symbol of their history.
The silence is white and unusual
broken by the sound of the stream
the music of a bird song
and the gentle rustling of the leaves.
This amazing symphony of nature
brings a welcome tranquility,
I close my eyes and sleep
and my peace is profound
like the breeze and morning dew.
Leave me here to my thoughts
I wish from this place to be taken
downstream to the gate of happiness
and the land of hope and dreams.
A picturesque flower bed
gardenias in a perfect spot
the cubby house in the corner
drawing the children to play
small daisies on the lawn
make this an enchanting garden.
In the pond, the water flows clean
the gold fish swim fast
and close by the green house
hides its secrets.
I see my tired body on the glass
and my eyes catch a glimpse
of the pretty red peonies.
I stand and look around
the layout of the garden
reminds me of something
I feel I've been here before
but I know that can't be so.
I feel sincere kindness,
great joy and good times
have been had by all
and happy am I to be considered
an old and trusted friend
so naturally, I say thanks
to this beautiful family.
All the poems reproduced above, with the authors' permission, are copyright of the named authors.
Let us trip in airy dances,
While the weary mortals sleep;
See the waning orb advances,
Lighting those that vigils keep.
In the nectar drown all trouble,
Sweeten'd by the honied bee;
Make a punch bowl of a bubble,
Underneath our fav'rite tree.
We have not the cares of mortals;
Nature's self our tailor is;
Sorrow enters not our portals,
All a fairy's nights are bliss.
Some fine peacock's lovely feather,
Brightest that was ever seen,
With its edge adorn'd with heather,
Forms a carpet for our Queen.
Stop the dance, a beetle's coming,
We must take his sable wing;
Stop his flight and mournful humming,
He must arm the Fairy King.
Now a moment's mirth and dancing,
We of songs have got no more;
When the moon's so high advancing,
Shows the fairy dance is o'er.
Wings of insects on the river,
We can borrow when we please;
Then we fly away for ever,
To the shades of joy and peace.
Cottingley figures in W. Riley's romance "The Way of the Winepress".
Harden is the "Briar Dene" of the story, Bingley appears as "Bexleigh" and Cottingley is "Cribberley".
The book was written in the early 1900s.