How A Field In Shropshire Got Its Name

This folktale about how a field in Shropshire came to be known as “Crawls” is taken from Shropshire Folklore; A Sheaf of Gleanings by Charlotte Sophia Burne

By Dirk Evisco Mattner, from Pixabay

On the banks of the river Teme, near Bromfield Vicarage, opposite to Oakley Park, there is a beautiful piece of meadow land, in which some remains of a moated house may be seen. The field is called Crawls, and it is not very long since many people in about Bromfield could recite a ballad telling the story of the name; but when the lady to whom we are indebted for these particulars tried to obtain the ballad…no one could repeat more than a few isolated lines, though the incidents of the story were still clearly remembered as follows:

Many hundred years ago there was a young lady, her father’s only daughter and heiress, whom a gallant knight wooed and sought for his bride. And she loved him well and gave him her promise. But when her father came to hear of it he would by no means give his consent, for the knight was a younger son, and landless. The young lady, though, was firm, and held to her word.

One day she came and told her father that she and her true love would be married the next morning at Bromfield church. The father was angry, as he might well be. He upbraided her for a headstrong lass, who must e’en take her own way, but of all his broad lands he vowed she should have none but what she could crawl round by morning light. She said not a word but went quietly away.

An old servant brought her a pair of leathern breeches to guard her poor knees (‘else they would ha’ wore out’), and thus strangely equipped, she crawled around the fields all through that dark cold winter’s night, and came in covered with mud to her father at his breakfast, saying that she had taken him at his word, and crawled round as much fair meadow as reached nearly to Downton. The old man was so much delighted at his girl’s brave spirit that he forgave her obstinacy and took her back into favour. He made her heiress of all his estates, which continued to belong to her descendants for many generations, and the land she crept round during that long dreary night still bears the name of ‘Crawls’.

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