Thursday, 1 March 2012

Chime children

Another view looking back towards Wales from Frocester Hill near Stroud.

I was going to share with you an interesting piece of writing from The Countryman magazine I got last Sunday. I read through it twice, and had just a leetle hesitation in believing that it might be as much fiction as fact, or the factual bones of the story somewhat frail and much-embroidered. The author was a lady called Ruth L Tongue (1898 - 1981), who was much involved in folk lore and also music and collecting old folk songs - often mere fragments which had survived (and perhaps evolved) over the years.

Of course, I then went in search of some details about a) chime children, and b) Ruth L Tongue.

Chime children are those born as the clock chimes the hour - the really crucial one was midnight which gifted its recipients with the ability of second sight. Others claim that a Chime Child will be able to see ghosts and other-worldly things, develop extra-ordinary herbal skills, control animals and be immune to witchcraft (see HERE). Supposedly the chimes were 3, 6, 9 and 12 - tolled by the church bells and marking those times when religious orders were called to prayer. However this could differ by region, and in Somerset (where Ruth Tongue collected folk lore and songs) and also East Anglia, the chime hours were 8p.m, midnight and 4 a.m. Ruth Tongue herself claimed to be a Chime Child with psychic powers, born between midnight on a Friday and cockcrow on Saturday (perhaps this timing gave special significance in the West Country? ) At all events, quotes this from the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore and also claims that she misled people with her Chime Child claim. Within the story I shall share with you tomorrow, she states that as she was a Chime Child, country people were happy to divulge tales, songs and "magical lore" to her when she was small.

This link will take you to the appropriate page on the appropriately-named "In the Chimehours"
which is an interesting site about folklore, with fabulous photographs.

I have to say I have never heard of a Chime Child before, and none of my Folklore books mention it, so this is quite intriguing.


  1. I love your latest header pic. Like you, I have not heard of a chime child, how fascinating!

  2. Link duly noted for later reading. Spooky corpse roads etc, I have heard of Ruth Tongue before, there is a problem with folktales though is how much are they made up for the 'listening ear'....

  3. Wow! What an interesting Blog, just when you think you've heard of everything you hear something new. Chime Children! I will have to do some more reading on this.

  4. Oh, I love these stories. They conjure up such images.

    I, too, like the new header and the last one. They invite one to enter in and linger.

    You have a wonderful collection of books; so interesting.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  5. Intriguing indeed BB - I love these little snippets of folk lore. Love your new header.

  6. I'm interested in folk tales, but some of them can be very dark, bogey-men recitals. Something about the chimehours site gave me warning prickles.
    Chime childen: I can picture old crones huddling around the birth room watching the clock!