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Drake's Drum

Scary Books: The Haunters & The Haunted

Sir Francis Drake--who appears to have been especially befriended by his

demon--is said to drive at night a black hearse drawn by headless

horses, and urged on by running devils and yelping, headless dogs,

through Jump, on the road from Tavistock to Plymouth.

Sir Francis, according to tradition, was enabled to destroy the Spanish

Armada by the aid of the devil. The old admiral went to Devil's Point, a

-known promontory jutting into Plymouth Sound. He there cut pieces

of wood into the water, and by the power of magic and the assistance of

his demon these became at once well-armed gunboats.

Queen Elizabeth gave Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey; and on every hand

we hear of Drake and his familiars.

An extensive building attached to the abbey--which was no doubt used as

barns and stables after the place had been deprived of its religious

character--was said to have been built by the devil in three nights.

After the first night, the butler, astonished at the work done, resolved

to watch and see how it was performed. Consequently, on the second

night, he mounted into a large tree, and hid himself between the forks

of its five branches. At midnight the devil came, driving several teams

of oxen; and as some of them were lazy, he plucked this tree from the

ground and used it as a goad. The poor butler lost his senses, and never

recovered them.

Drake constructed the channel, carrying the waters from Dartmoor to

Plymouth. Tradition says he went with his demon to Dartmoor, walked into

Plymouth, and the waters followed him. Even now--as old Betty

Donithorne, formerly the housekeeper at Buckland Abbey, told me,--if the

warrior hears the drum which hangs in the hall of the abbey, and which

accompanied him round the world, he rises and has a revel.

Some few years since a small box was found in a closet which had been

long closed, containing, it is supposed, family papers. This was to be

sent to the residence of the inheritor of this property. The carriage

was at the abbey door, and a man easily lifted the box into it. The

owner having taken his seat, the coachman attempted to start his horses,

but in vain. They would not--they could not move. More horses were

brought, and then the heavy farm-horses, and eventually all the oxen.

They were powerless to start the carriage. At length a mysterious voice

was heard, declaring that the box could never be moved from Buckland

Abbey. It was taken from the carriage easily by one man, and a pair of

horses galloped off with the carriage.