The tiny Worcestershire village of Lulsley is tucked away near the Teme river off the main road from Worcester to Bromyard. Overlooking the river nearby is a limestone bluff known as Osebury Rock.
The Rock is thickly wooded on the side facing the Teme and hidden away up in the cliff is a small cave that was known locally as the Fairy's Cave. Local women would take any broken or bent utensils from the kitchen, such as a bread peel, and leave the tool in the cave overnight. The belief was that the fairy or elf who lived within the Rock would repair the peel as long as a fresh bun was left for them in return. The cave, although quite shallow, was seen as the portal through which the spirit of the place would interact with the human world.
For a tradition to be made there usually has to be something in it for the activity to keep being repeated, and I like to think that a kind person from the village walked past the cave each evening to scoop up anything left in there then repaired them, before quietly placing the utensil back there early the next morning. He got a fresh bun out of the deal!
This is the opposite to the old “Broken Peel and The Cake” fable more commonly told, where a man finds a tiny broken peel in a field he is ploughing and repairs it, placing it back where he found it. The peel turns out to be owned by the fairies, or fae, and they leave a cake in the furrows for him to show their gratitude. Similar to our Fairy Cave here at Lulsley is the tradition associated with Wayland's Smithy in Oxfordshire, where it was said that anyone riding near the neolithic tomb who may have lost a shoe should leave their horse there with some coins for a while, and return to find the mount freshly shod.
Like the place itself, the legend of the Fairy's Cave is now almost forgotten, ivy strewn and half hidden, but as long we can tell and listen to these tales the fascinating folklore of the Midlands will live on.
Fairy's Cave set in the cliffs of Osebury Rock
Fairy's Cave, half hidden and forgotten
The Teme river with Osebury Rock rising above it to the right
A typical oven peel of the 18th century
One of the fine old houses of Lulsley