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Peg o' Nell


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The water-spirit of the river Ribble in Lancashire. She was said to be the ghost of a servant at Waddow Hall, Clitheroe, who broke her neck when she slipped on the ice, having been sent to fetch water on a frosty night. Every seven years she would claim a life in revenge, but this would not necessarily be human—she could be tricked by deliberately drowning a cat, bird, or dog. A local story tells how a young man once insisted on fording the river, even though he was warned that it was the seventh year and no animal had yet been sacrificed; he and his horse were swept away by a sudden gush of water (Henderson, 1866: 229).

In other versions, she was said to live in ‘Peggy Nell's Well’, in a meadow on the edge of the river, where a headless stone statue beside the well is supposed to represent her, the head having been chopped off as punishment after she caused a Puritan preacher to fall in the river.


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