LONGDENDALE has always been noted for the number of its inhabitants devoted to the study of magic arts. Once upon a time, or to give it in the words of an unpublished rhyme (which are quite as indefinite)—
“Long years ago, so runs the tale,
A doctor dwelt in Longdendale;”
and then the rhyme goes on to describe the hero of the legend—
“Well versed in mystic lore was he—
A conjuror of high degree;
He read the stars that deck the sky,
And told their rede of mystery.”
Coming down to ordinary prose, it will suffice to say that the doctor referred to was a most devoted student of magic, or, as he preferred to put it—“a keen searcher after knowledge”—a local Dr. Faustus in fact. Having tried every ordinary means of increasing his power over his fellow mortals, he finally decided to seek aid of the powers of darkness, and one day he entered into a compact with no less a personage than His Imperial Majesty, Satan, otherwise known as the Devil. The essentials of this agreement may thus be described.
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Bury Grammar School is an independent grammar school that has existed since c.1570 the following tale is thought to have originated from the early days of the school. It seems that teachers were made of stern stuff in those days.
Old Mr. Hodgeson the master of the grammar school at bury was sat at his midday meal when his wooden trencher started to spin alarmingly.
Convinced something was wrong he returned with all haste to the schoolhouse to find the schoolboys in a panic and the air fouled with brimstone.
In a foolhardy show of bravado one of the boys had recited the Lords Prayer backwards and in doing so had summoned the Old Nick himself to the school.
Being a learned chap, Hodgeson knew that the only way to banish the devil would be to give him a task which he could not perform, yet if the devil could complete three tasks the price would be his soul.
First Hodgeson demanded that the devil count the blades of grass on the Castle Croft, within a moment the devil returns with the answer.
Getting more desperate he asks the devil to count the grains of sand on the school brow. Again the devil completes the task easily.
With only one chance remaining, the old schoolmaster thinks for a while and without panic, having worked for years with little devils in front of him, he asks the devil to count the letters in the Bible in the nearby Parish Church.
Knowing he is beaten, since he cannot enter the church, the devil lets out a roar and descends through the schoolroom floor back to hell, leaving a great crack in the hearthstone where he passed through.