Lazy Laurence: The Mischievous Pixie of New Forest

In the enchanting realm of English folklore, amidst the lush landscapes of Hampshire and Dorset, resides a mischievous pixie known as Lazy Laurence. This whimsical nature spirit has woven himself into the tapestry of local legends, where he is renowned for his association with orchard protection, cider, and his peculiar powers that range from inducing sleep beneath fruit trees to causing dithering and even stomach cramps.

Lazy Laurence finds his realm primarily in the mystical New Forest, where he delights in giving apple scrumpers and rude tourists a taste of his mischievous magic. According to the accounts of John Wise in 1862, the forest still serves as a dwelling for fairies, with Laurence reigning as a particularly mischievous sprite. Legend has it that if a peasant falls into a state of laziness, it is said, “Laurence has got upon him,” or “He has got a touch of Laurence.” The mere mention of his name carries an air of awe, and local landmarks, such as barrows, bear his distinctive title.

Lazy Laurence

While Lazy Laurence’s presence is strongly felt in the New Forest, he was once known in the neighboring counties of Sussex and Somerset, where he served as a bogeyman, inspiring both fear and caution in children. In the dialects of Devon and Cornwall, his reputation for laziness was further emphasized, cementing his whimsical persona across the region. The first literary reference to this mischievous figure can be found in a small pamphlet from the 1770s titled “The Pleasant history of lazy Laurence,” which offers a glimpse into the enduring fascination with his antics.

As with many folklore tales, the origins of Lazy Laurence remain shrouded in mystery and speculation. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable offers intriguing insights, suggesting that his name may allude to the heat prevalent during the feast of St. Lawrence on August 10th. Another playful conjecture suggests that a humorous story emerged, claiming that when the martyr St. Lawrence instructed his torturers to turn him on the gridiron, it was simply because he was too lazy to move himself.

For those eager to explore the realm where Lazy Laurence is said to reside, a visit to Laurence’s Barrow is a must. This small bell barrow, nestled amidst the captivating Beaulieu Heath, stands alongside two other barrows, Watt’s Parlour and Cold Pixies’ Cave, both of which also boast associations with pixies in local folklore. These mystical landmarks serve as gateways into a world where pixies, nature spirits, and mischievous enchantment intertwine.

So, the next time you find yourself in the New Forest, keep your senses attuned to the whispers of Lazy Laurence. Whether he bestows drowsiness beneath a fruit-laden tree or inspires moments of delightful dithering, this whimsical pixie will remind you that even in the most ordinary of places, enchantment and magic can be found. Embrace the folklore, tread lightly, and perhaps, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the mischievous sprite who goes by the name of Lazy Laurence.

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