The Devil in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire
It is not surprising that the legend of the Devil’s Jump-stone should belong to Bedfordshire, home of the most famous Puritan author, John Bunyan, given that the story is a grave warning against sport on the Sabbath – his own epiphany came one Sunday when he was playing not praying.
In a field near the village there is an ancient stone. One Sunday the devil, who was busily engaged in trying to carry off the church tower – explaining why it’s separate from the main body of the church – noticed that three young lads were in that field playing at leapfrog instead of observing the holy day in a more fit and proper manner. Recognizing the chance to add to his stock of souls Satan sprang down to join their game, alighting on the stone itself. The foolish lads were tricked by him making a back for them to jump over, and one by one they took up the challenge, leaping over the stranger. But rather than land on the earth beyond him, they found that a gaping hole leading straight to hell had opened up, and all three plunged down it to eternal damnation. The hole closed above them, and all that was left to tell the tale was the Devil’s Jump-stone – and the church tower that old Nick had shifted before finding more fruitful sport.
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