My introduction to Shropshire Folklore began at a very young age, and it involved a family connection. This was the story of my grandfather’s encounter with the Devil. Our story starts, like so many of my stories, in Ironbridge. It was Sunday, and my grandfather- a mere boy at this point – was on his way to church. However, this wasn’t like a regular Sunday. Laurence (his name before he was grandad, or even dad) had made a cunning plan. He didn’t like church all that much, and the long hours of sermons didn’t really appeal to him- so planned to change that. A few days before, he’d spoken to his cousins, and a friend, and told them what they were to do. He told them to bring a pack of cards, as well as other games and to watch for his lead. Sunday came, and whilst his mum and dad were talking to their friends and well-wishers. My grandad signalled his friends, and snook off. They snook out of the churchyard, down to the steep steps that descend down to the Ironbridge itself. They felt triumphant- and in very good spirits as they played their games, knowing fully well they should be in the church service. They played for a short while, without interruption, when all of a sudden it hit them. The atmosphere changed, it felt tight, oppressive. The boys fell silent- just breathing… This is when my grandad heard footsteps behind him, coming down those winding steps, and felt a cold hand on his shoulder. The Devil called him by his name. He never described the Devil to me, Though even as an old man his fear was palpable. ‘you shouldn’t be wasting your Sunday on silly games’ he would say, perhaps quoting that fateful meeting, where the Devil had told him if he continued such rebellion- to play cards and ignore the sabbath, he would ensure they met again.
Submitted by Amy B