Hen and Chickens

According to a Devonshire legend, the vicar of a certain parish was a distinguished student of the black art, and possessed a large collection of mysterious books and manuscripts. During his absence at church, one of his servants entered his study, and, finding a large volume open on the desk, imprudently began to read it aloud. He had scarcely read half a page, when the sky became dark and a great wind shook the house violently; still he read on, and in the midst of the storm the doors flew open, and a black hen and chickens came into the room. They were of the ordinary size, when they first appeared, but gradually became larger and larger, until the hen was as big as a good-sized ox.

At this point the vicar (in the church) suddenly closed his discourse, and dismissed his congregation, saying he was wanted at home, and hoped he might arrive there in time. When he entered the chamber, the hen was already touching the ceiling. But he threw down a bag of rice, which stood ready in the corner; and whilst the hen and chickens were busily picking up the grains, the vicar had time to reverse the spell.



  • Hazlitt, W. Carew. (1905). Faith and Folklore. 2 vols. London: Reeves and Turner, p. 313.

This article incorporates text from Faith and Folklore (1905) by W. Carew Hazlitt, which is in the public domain.