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Sabine Baring Gould Festival 2024

(to mark the centenary of his death)

Margery of Quether


This display is the result of groundbreaking collaboration between members, families and friends of The Tavistock Photography Club, with the kind support of local players, St Michael De Rupe Church in particular and the owners of the various other settings.  The final images form a creative illustration of Sabine’s ghostly short story ‘Margery of Quether’, set in the local area of Brentor, the iconic landmark visible throughout the region of East Cornwall and West Devon.

Particular thanks to The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock and Tavistock Library for sponsoring The Project by providing the Exhibition venues, without which these images would not be brought to the wider public’s attention. 

Thanks also to the Sabine Baring-Gould biographer and Author, Rebecca Tope, for the initial incentive to commit the time and energy of the contributors. Rebecca has kindly donated a copy of the book containing this story and a copy of his biography to The Tavistock Subscription Library adding to their already significant collection. The Tavistock Subscription Library is also contributing to this Festival by sponsoring a writing competition.


The final images form a creative illustration of Sabine’s ghostly short story ‘Margery of Quether’, set in the local area of Brentor, the iconic landmark visible throughout the region of East Cornwall and West Devon.

Images were captured at local locations. Some were compiled as a montage with material from various sources. Green screen and other editing techniques have been used. 

The use of Generative Artificial Intelligence and ‘mood digital editing’ has been applied occasionally to compliment the scene, emphasising the spirit of the story. This forms a significant creative and personal divergence from Royal Photography Society and other Photographic Societies’ mantras, allowing an additional freedom of expression. 


The source images were created by different artists and therefore do not represent precise continuity of castings, but interpret and serve to illustrate the sense of the story with a little artistic licence.


For many of the participants this was the first attempted and has been a very enjoyable experience for all, particularly for the photographers, being outside the normal scope of the traditional Group activities. 


There is an accompanying digital slide show by members of the Tavistock Photography Club showing a  more conventional portrayal of the Brentor area.


Ray Jacobs

Coordinator of Altered Images subgroup of

Tavistock Photography Club

Plate 1

The phases of Margery

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Plate 2

‘The church is dedicated to St. Michael, and the story goes that, whilst it was being built, every night the devil removed as many stones as had been set on the foundations during the day. But the archangel was too much for him. He waited behind Cox Tor, and one night threw a great rock across and hit the Evil One between the horns, and gave him such a head ache that he desisted from interference thenceforth.’

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Plate 3


Foggaton lies in a combe, that is, a hollow lap, in Yaffell or as the maps call it, Heathfield. Yaffell is a huge elevated bank of moor to the north-west and west, and what is very singular about it is, that at the very highest point of the moor an extinct volcanic cone protrudes, and rises to the height of about twelve hundred feet. This is called Brentor, and it is crowned with a church, the very tiniest in the world I should suppose, but tiny as it is, it has chancel, nave, porch, and west tower like any Christian parish church. There is also a graveyard round the church. This occupies a little platform on the top of the mountain, and there is absolutely no room there for anything else. To the west, the rocks are quite precipitous, but the peak can be ascended from the east up a steep grass slope strewn with pumice.’

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Plate 4

‘You must understand that there is no road, not even a path to the top ; one scrambles up over the turf, in windy weather clinging to the heather bushes. It is a famous place for courting, that is why the lads and lasses are such church-going folk hereabout. The boys help the girls up, and after service hold their hands to help them down.’

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Plate 5
‘One Sunday she and I had gone round to the west end of the church after service. I told her that I wanted to show her Kit Hill, where the Britons made their last stand against King Athelstan and the Saxons ; the real reason was that there is only a narrow ledge between the tower and the precipice, on which two cannot walk abreast, but on which two can stand very well with their backs to the wall, and no one else can come within eye and ear-shot of them. Whilst we stood there, a sudden cloud rolled by beneath our feet, completely obliterating the land scape, …..but we were left above the vapour, in sunlight, looking down, as it were, on a rushing, eddying sea of white foam. The effect was strange; it was as though we were insulated on a little rock in a vast ocean….. Margaret pressed my arm and said, " We two seem to be alone in a little world to our selves.
I answered, looking at the fog, "And a preciously dull world and dreary outlook."
I have not much imagination, and I did not at the moment take her words as an appeal for a pretty and lover-like reply. I missed the opportunity and it was gone past recall.’

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Plate 6

‘…..the Jack-o'-lanthorn seen dancing in and out among the rocks, and winding its way up the height, till at last it hopped in at the church door of St. Michael on the Rock, and then a faint glimmer was visible issuing from all its windows.’

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Plate 7

‘….. the few gravestones lit up with a ghastly smile as the lanthorn and I went by them in the little yard.

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Plate 8


I set down the dickering article on the stone seat in the porch,’

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Plate 9

 ‘….I looked at the rope of the tenor bell, intending to pull that next. As I did so, I noticed something dark, like a ball of dirty cobwebs, hanging to the cord, rather high up. I elevated my
lanthorn to see what it was, but the light afforded by the tallow dip was not sufficient to enable me to distinguish the outline of the object. I supposed it might be a great mass of filthy cobweb,
…... the object was descending the rope slowly……..I should have liked to leave the church, but to do this I must step past this creature...The creature I could now see had a human form. It was of the size of a three months' old baby……and then blinked, much in the same way as a monkey blinks, drawing a skin over the eyes different in colour from the skin of the face.….’

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Plate 10


‘My seat is a little forward of the Quether pew on the other side. Usually, when standing for the psalms and hymns, I stand sideways, that the light may fall on my book, and I may look over the top at Margaret, who does the same ; but as she is on the other side and the window opposite mine, she turns towards me that she may get the light on her print, and so our eyes arc always meeting.’

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Plate 11

‘So I got a drawer out of my bureau, fitted it up with pillows, and laid her in that.’

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Plate 12


‘So the banns were read on the first Sunday in the month at the after noon service, there being no service that day in the morning in the little church. The banns were published between George Rosedhu, of Foggaton, bachelor, and Margaret Palmer, of Quether, spinster. If anyone knew any just cause or impediment why these two should not be joined together in holy matri mony, they were now to declare it That was the first time of asking.’……..

…A pretty sensation the reading of these banns caused. Farmer Palmer's face turned as mottled as brawn, and Miss Palmer blushed as red as a rose and buried her face in her hymn-book.’

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Plate 13

‘….. men and boys, with their caps and hats on. Their faces were flushed and eager ; savage delight danced in their eyes. One had a pitch fork, several had sticks, one was armed with a flail. 
…….‘My poor Margery gazed with alarm at the crowd of red, threatening faces that looked at her. She shrank from the sticks, the clubs, the pitchfork and flail.  …... "Look! look there!" shouted Farmer Palmer. " Look there, you witch, at the bed made for you. There are plenty of faggots to heap over you should you complain of the cold."’

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Plate 14

‘The burly yeoman paid no heed to his daughter's protest, knowing, no doubt, its unreality. He said to me, " Look y' here, George Rosedhu, you've had my daughter's name coupled wi' yourn in the church to day, and read out before the whole congregation, without axing my leave or hers. I won't have her made game of even by a man o' substance like you, so her shall marry you before December comes, whether you like it or not"’

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Plate 15

‘Certainly Margery looked aged, a hale woman, but still old too old to be thought of as a bride at the hymeneal altar.’

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Plate 16


‘I have written these few pages to let people know that Margery of Quether is about somewhere where I do not know for certain, but I believe she has gone off into the remotest parts of Dartmoor, where, probably, she will seek herself a cave among the granite tors, in which to conceal herself, where no boys will be likely to find her and throw stones at her. I am uneasy

….... now that there is such a rush of visitors to Dartmoor to enjoy the wonderful air and scenery, lest they should come across her, and in thoughtlessness…. 

Brentor and District
Tavistock Photography Club

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