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The Mermaid of Mapplewell

Updated on August 21, 2015

A local story of lost love

I seem to have the unofficial position of general archivist in our family.

For some reason, I have many family documents and photographs - it seems that have so many that when I go through them, I almost always find something I've never seen before. This tells about one of my recent - and very fascinating - discoveries.

When I was growing up in Yorkshire, our rural lives were confined to four small hamlets called Staincross, Mapplewell, Darton and Haigh.

These were the tiny villages in which we and our relatives lived.I recently came across the documents you'll see below. They were tied up with string and labelled The Mermaid of Mapplewell.

When I saw this, it rang the smallest of bells. Surely I had heard that phrase when I was a child?

Eagerly, I looked at the documents. In rhyming form, they told the story of a lost love. See them below.

Now this is fun!

Images from Wikimedia Commons. Documents created by me unfortunately.


This is the first sheet. I was intrigued. It doesn't exactly make it clear whether these events took place in 1842, 1742 or even earlier, but I suspect 1842.

You see, my mum came from a strict Methodist family and a relative was such a strident lay preacher that he was nicknamed the Bishop of Darton. Ah, this is why we had these papers in our family. Seeing the connection, I moved onto the next installment.


Blimey, creatures with tails - mermaids and mermen. It was all coming back to me.

The villages were on the River Dearne and I vaguely remembered stories I'd heard in my childhood about a family of merfolk who, one flood-prone year, travelled up from the sea and had been seen in the river.


Of course, I remembered more. I remembered hearing, so many years ago, about the young lord of manor who had mysteriously disappeared in days gone by.

The manor house was called Birthwaite Hall and the family there were the Fountains. Yes, I had heard that one of them had disappeared off the face and the earth ... and now I was holding the story in my own hands.


The name of the mysterious and beautiful mermaid was, appropriately:Lady Fairpools



It seems that the mer-family were originally from France.

This is an engraving of the merman who was reputedly Lady Fairpools' father.He was known as Aydoll of Paris and his daughter seems to have inherited his fearsome gaze. His wife was the famed beauty Lady of Polaris.I have heard that the family had to flee their home area when it became flooded.

I know this seems strange for people who live in the water but the floods brought so much garbage into the waters that they were no longer habitable. These dreadful rapids were called the Paliray Floods of '39.Ever since then, the family had been on the move, seeking a new home. It appears that Mapplewell wasn't it because although the ghost of the young lord can be heard, the mer-people were never seen in the area again.


Yorkshire's fascination

There are so many businesses in the county of Yorkshire that take this mythical creature as their name.

I have lost count of the number of fish and chip shops I've seen called The Mermaid.

Of course, there's a bit of a relationship there but I've also come across guest houses, pubs, bookstores and even a shoe store (how weird) bearing the name.The creatures have engendered many local legends and stories, most of which are tales of doom.

But sometimes, these creatures are seen more like fairies - in a benevolent role.I have to say though, she doesn't look too friendly here - although I do see that she has charms that might attract a young man.

Further reading

Learn more about these creatures. I never saw the Mapplewell versions myself - it happened many, many years before I was born. But the stories about them must have entered my subconscious mind because for quite a few of my childhood years, being a mermaid was my greatest ambition.

This was closely followed by desire to be Ginger Rogers but I think that was just the frocks, the shoes and the music. However, fishy tales and fishes tails won the day.

Yorkshire legends

Folklore of Yorkshire
Folklore of Yorkshire

The great county of Yorkshire holds many fascinating secrets and stories. It's sad but true that the story of the Mermaids of Mapplewell is entirely created by my own imagination.

However, there are many genuine stories about the weirdness and oddness of our wonderful county. This is a great compendium of tales.


© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Thank you @Barbara Kay. I don't believe it either but wouldn't it be wonderful?

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Bravewarrior - I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 3 years ago from USA

      This was a good story even if it wasn't true. They claim on the History Channel that men in submarines have seen them. I don't believe everything they have on there though.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Jackie, this is awesome! I'd never heard the tale but you presented it beautifully. BTW, I always thought "beauteous" was something Southerners say. I was tickled to read it in this poem. Also, the fact that this happened on April 1st and the preacher warns, "that on the very first day of April he fell for the fishiest tale". I wonder if this is where April Fool's Day in the US originated?

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 3 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      What a fun story and a creative way to share it!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      What wonderful tales! I love that you found the old Mermaid of Mapplewell poetry, awesome!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @flycatcherrr: If it's weird and wonderful, then it's going to be in (or educated in) Yorkshire :)

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Erin Mellor: Maybe there's a market for mermaids' wellies?

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @GeorgeneMBramlage: That's the thing with Yorkshire.You never know what you'll find :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      It is truly a weird and wonderful world out there - and a good bit of the wonderfully weird seems to have landed in your files! Great fun. Who could resist such a fishy tale?

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Fascinating - a family of merpeople inland in Yorkshire. You have a treasure trove of stories...thanks for sharing!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @OhMe: Thank you!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I had to laugh at the ending, which methinks is a clue that the author made up the entire story, or at the very least embellished an otherwise more mundane disappearance of the young lord. But how wonderful to find such old papers among your family things and unravel the mystery. I enjoy your historical accounts so much.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 3 years ago from Europe

      Setting up a shoe shop for mermaids must be a sure fire route to bankruptcy.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Well now, I'm wondering if you aren't just hankering for some form of scandal in your own family after all your coverage of the Royals! Very fun read.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This has sure been an interesting and fun read. Thanks.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you! And I think you're right about the author .... :)

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Dressage Husband: Haha Stephen! Do you know, I think you're right :)

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Fascinating story I wonder if the fact it is dated 1 April needs to be taken into account? We Brits having that type of sense of humour! Great story loved it.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Nancy Hardin: Thank you so much Nancy :)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Oh how I love reading your stories. Every time you post a new one, that's what I head for. I know it's always entertaining and interesting, just as this one is. What fun to be able to visit your lenses each day!