Saturday, 29 September 2012
Saturday Rave: Piers Shonks
This is a wonderful story, not nearly as well known as it should be, and the whole thing takes place in Hertfordshire, the county of England in which I live.
'The Pelham district was troubled with an enormous dragon
that committed great havoc with the flocks and herds of the neighbourhood.
'Piers Shonks, a valiant man and a renowned hunter, determined to destroy the reptile; therefore fully armed with his hounds, so swift of foot that they were said to be winged, he sallied forth in search of the monster. The dogs soon gave tongue, and by their attacks and noise so distracted the attention of the dragon that it gave Piers an opportunity to thrust his spear into a vulnerable part and speedily despatch it.
Instantly the death-struggles had ceased the Evil One appeared,
vowing vengeance on our hero for having destroyed his emissary, and threatening to have Shonks after his death, body and soul, whether buried in the church or out...'
...which was, obviously, a bit of a problem for our hero. But luckily Piers Shonks was a cunning man, and if you visit Brent Pelham church you can see how he escaped the eternal clutches of the Evil One.
For there you will find Piers Shonks' tomb, neither in the church nor out of it, but built snugly within the church's walls.
Is there anything anywhere more deeply satisfying than a tale of cunning triumphant? Or anything more disconcerting than the idea that the Evil One has a pet dragon?
Not that I can think of at the moment.
The above version of the story is by W B Gerish.
Word To Use Today: shonk. This is a version of shank, meaning part of the leg. It probably means that Piers Shonks was very tall (huge human bones are said to have been discovered in the church). The word comes from the Old English scanca.
If you're in Australia or New Zealand then shonky means dodgy and possibly illegal, unreliable or unsound.
Nothing like the story of Piers Shonks, then.