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December 2017: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Jenny Greenteeth, Shropshire

While the legend of Jenny Greenteeth is known across the western counties of Lancashire, Cheshire and Shropshire, she is most associated with the town of Ellesmere in the latter area, perhaps because of the many ponds and pools to be found in the district, where sometimes she goes by the alternative and very imaginative name of Wicked Jenny.
As with any legend there are numerous variations on the same theme, but the theme is common: Jenny is a strange and terrible creature living beneath the surface of stagnant and weed-infested ponds, always on the lookout for the unwary who come too near her lair. Should you approach her hiding place, especially if you are alone, Jenny will leap out from beneath the waters and drag you down to your doom.
The details regarding Jenny’s appearance vary from place to place, teller to teller, but the word ‘long’ features heavily: she has long green hair; long arms with which to grab you, and long hands with bony fingers and sharp fingernails for grip; her body is often tall and slender. Her eyes, by contrast, are huge and staring. And of course her teeth are green, as is her skin. I may have dated her in the seventies.
Jenny’s preferred diet is young children – like Baba Yaga in Slav legends, to whom some writers link the British version. The most likely origin for the story is parents wanting to scare their children out of investigating dangerous ponds where surface weed can easily snag limbs and soundlessly drown the struggling. Sleep well children; sleep well.

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