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Folklore of Death: Fallen Leaves and a Lucky Escape

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Today, October 2nd is Braughing Old Man’s Day. Back in the sixteenth century a resident of the Hertfordshire village, Mathew Wall, had a lucky escape from being buried alive, thanks to fallen autumn leaves. 

He’d been found, supposedly dead, and a procession including his fiancée was following his coffin. One of the pallbearers slipped on leaves and dropped the casket. It fell to the ground with a thump, but the mourners were then shocked to hear banging from inside. 
The jolt had woken Mathew from narcoleptic sleep and saved him from being buried alive. He married his sweetheart and lived another 24 years. In his will he left money that every October 2nd the bells would ring a wedding peal and Fleece Lane, the site of the incident, would be swept clean. The custom continues to this day.
I’ll be blogging more about death-related folklore in the weeks before Samhain and Halloween.

To read more posts like this visit A Bad Witch’s Blog at


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