The Devil and the School Master

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.

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