The Fairies and Langton House

Lift one, lift a'
Baith at back and fore wa', 
Up and away wi' Langton House, 
And set it down in Dogden Moss.

Dr George Henderson recalls a story and rhyme he was told in childhood by David Downieson about fairies and Langton House. According to David, a source of many local stories, the fairies had conceived some malevolence against Langton and its inmates, and they determined to remove the house, carry it away bodily, and set it down in the midst of Dogden Moss, an extensive morass, several miles to the west of Langton, in the parish of Greenlaw.

‘In a moonlight night, about the end of Autumn, when the outlines of the round swelling heath-clad hills to the north and west of Langton were dimly seen, and the sweet murmurs of Langton burn, were heard below its white misty covering, sounding softly on the midnight breeze.

‘Sounds of a different kind might have been distinguished by those mortals who were awake at the time. A band of fairies had assembled around the mansion, and singing in the words of the Rhyme at the top of these remarks, were busily engaged in loosening the house from its foundations – at this moment one of the inmates hearing a strange unearthly noise, and feeling the house move beneath him, as if by an earthquake, he started from bed, and threw up one of the windows, to ascertain, if possible, the cause of such a phenomenon.

‘The first glance was enough, and he exclaimed: “Lord keep me and the house together, what’s this o’t.” This immediately dissolved the spell – and the fairies dispersed. Had he been a moment later, the house, with all its inmates, would have been rushing through the air, on the way to Dogden Moss!’

From George Henderson, The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick, 1854.