Pen Park Hole
Southmead, Bristol
The Goblin of the Cave

Reference has been made elsewhere to a poem with this title. We do not know who wrote it originally, but after much searching a copy of the full text has been found. This was published in the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post for Saturday, September 27th, 1876. The article is entitled West Country Legends: A Collection of Traditionary and Superstitious Stories of the West of England and Wales. No. XXXVI. THE GOBLIN'S CURSE. A Legend of Pen-park Hole, near Bristol.


No author is cited, either for the article or the poem. After the poem, the author goes on to give a brief account of the original exploration of the cave and of the Reverend Newnham's death. This is based on known sources including G.S. Catcott's book and Hooke's early account, amongst others.


The Goblin's Curse

Now find me the man with pluck so high
Who dares the Goblin's Curse Defy!
Now find him, I pray, in Bristol town,
Who that grim Hole dares venture down—
But when you have found him, bid him beware
Of all the dangers lurking there;
For horrible sights shall meet his view
If half that rumour says be true—
Knackers and gnomes and frightful shapes,
From which no trespasser ever escapes,
And goblins grim
Shall worry him,
And torture him out of a ghostly whim!
So find, if you can, that reckless soul
Who fears not the Goblin of Pen-park Hole!

"I," bold Captain Sturmey said,
"Will do as you ask;
Be mine the task;
For I hold in scorn your Goblin dread!
Give me a lantern, a rope, and a stick,
And a trusty comrade in Miner Dick,
And I am the man from Bristol town
Who will not scruple to venture down.
I rather fancy that Dick and I
Will the Goblin of Pen-park Hole defy!"

Captain Sturmy was made of the stuff
In our common sailors common enough;
You might, in short,
In Bristol port,
To-day meet many of Sturmey's sort—
Men who always in danger revel
And care not a button for man or for devil.
But though he had volunteer'd so bravely
Citizens' heads were shaken gravely;
They thought, in fact,
'Twas a dare-devil act;
Where a Goblin's quarters were thus attacked;
And, spite of his pluck,
They fancied ill-luck
Must result from a blow so heedlessly struck.
Oh, the Captain had need be a fearless soul
To tackle the Goblin of Pen Park Hole!

"Goblin!" 'Tis but an old woman's whim!
Why do they gabble such trash to him?
He laughingly asks them "Who's afraid?"
So, all due preparations made,
A party of friends leave Bristol town
To see the Captain and Dick go down.
A rope to a pully they presently fix
Of suitable length,
And ample strength,
To carry the Captain's weight and Dick's;
And down they go
To the depths below—
Down, still down! The pace is slow,
And Captain Sturmey, and Dick, his friend,
Fancy the journey never will end,
As into the bowels of the earth they drop—
Till "bumping" the bottom, they suddenly stop.
Then, the Miner Dick, whose pluck may pass,
And Captain Sturmey, as bold as brass,
Feel as they never have felt before
In the gloomy cavern they've come to explore!

What a sight to pay them both for their pains!
How chilly the blood runs through their veins!
What strange wing'd creatures are here in legions—
The place is like the infernal regions!
Vampire and gnome
Are quite at home
Down in this hideous catacomb!
And here are rocks and boulders, which
Are slimy, damp, and black as pitch;
And all is dark as the robe of Night,
For lanterns give but a feeble light—
And the air's so thick
That Miner Dick
Observes his candle blink and flicker—
And the Captain takes a drain of liquor,
Hoping "Dutch courage" might aid their task,
And he bids his companion finish the flask.
And oh! 'tis a strange and perplexing sight—
They find to the left and they find to the right
Passages narrow and galleries square,
And corridors leading they don't know where!
Who shall say
Which is the way?
The Captain, looking at Dick in dismay,
With a sudden burst,
Chooses the first
That comes—and leaving the rest to chance,
Both down a perilous path advance—
On, and still on, this path they follow,
Through many a chasm, and gorge, and hollow;
Until, from a passage, narrow and small,
They enter what looks like a monster hall,
And then as a sudden turn they take
At their feet outstretched is a spacious lake—
Which, closely inspected, seems to be
An endless subterraneous sea!
There, perched all alone
On the top of a stone,
To which, like a fungus, he seems to be grown,
On the banks of the lake, in an attitude droll,
Is the terrible Goblin of Pen Park Hole!

Though Bristol people always were struck
With Captain Sturmey's amazing pluck,
Much had they marvelled to see him now,
Wiping the drops from his honest brow—
And more had the marvelled at Dick, his friend,
Whose hair was standing straight on end,
So stiffly erect, one might have implied
The Miner had been electrified!

What a hideous shape! What goggle eyes!
What a head, exceeding the body in size!
What a strange, repulsive, scaly skin!
What a tongue that goes out as the eyes go in!
But uglier far is that horrible grin,
Less like a laugh than a spiteful sneer,
Which seems to extend from ear to ear!
Oh, the Captain had need be a fearless soul
To tackle the Goblin of Pen Park Hole!

"Bravo, my Captain!" the Goblin cried,
Swaying himself from side to side,
And parting his lips, to show beneath
A couple of rows of faultless teeth!
"Bravo, my Captain ! so you've come down
All the way from Bristol town!
And you are the man with pluck so high
Who dares the Goblin's curse defy!
Bravo ! Now watch, and in my lake
I'll angle—and yours be the fish I take!"

Giving our friends a familiar nod
The Goblin produced a six-foot rod,
And, when his hook was duly baited,
He tossed it into the lake and waited.
"Oh, ho!" he chuckled, with savage delight,
"What capital fish are mine to bite!
"This, for the Captain!" he cried aloud,
And out of the water he drew—a shroud!
Again his bait in the lake he threw,
And quickly to land a coffin drew!

"This for my good friend Dick!" he cried,
Laughing and swaying from side to side.
Then waving his hand, by way of adieu,
He slowly into a cave withdrew,
And up from the lake a great stone hopped
Which close to the mouth of the cavern cropped,
Forming a sort of a natural door—
And Dick and the Captain saw no more!
* * * * *

Only a year had passed away
When Miner Dick in his coffin lay!
And he who was never by danger cow'd,
Whose pluck made all Bristolians proud,
The invincible Captain,
Was carefully wrapt in
(Just as the Goblin foretold it)—a shroud!
Now, had not the Captain a reckless soul
To tackle the Goblin of Pen Park Hole?
* * * * *



What more can one add? Save to say that this piece was clearly written during the Heroic Age of punctuation!

Valid CSS!

Site last updated January 2017