If you look carefully, you may notice that one of the four pinnacles on Batcombe church tower is crooked. The official notes issued by the church of St. Mary Magdalene tell the strange story of how the pinnacle has never been the same since it was knocked off by the leaping horse of the local squire, also known as 'Conjuring Minterne' because he dabbled in magic. He was regarded with a great deal of fear and superstition locally. After setting off to ride over steep Batcombe Hill one day, he suddenly remembered he had left his magic book open on the table, where his servants might find it. To save going back by the road, he turned his horse round and spurred it to attempt a massive leap over the church, knocking off the pinnacle as he soared clear over the tower. This feat led to even more suspicion about his goings on, and seemed to prove that he must indeed be in league with Old Nick himself; when the grass failed to grow ever afterwards on the spot where he landed, this was even surer proof. The villagers were reluctant to repair the pinnacle in case they made the Devil even more angry, so it was a hundred years before they replaced it - crooked. Although the roof of the church tower is visible from the hillside, believe me the leap was impossible.

The place has another legend. On the summit of the hill above the village is a mystic stone called the Cross-in-Hand, featured by Thomas Hardy in Tess of the d'Urbervilles. There are those who believe they can see the shape of a hand grasping a bowl at its top. Those of such mind will probably tell you that it was the place of a terrible murder, or where a miracle was performed.

For those visitors who venture down the precipitous Batcombe Hill, a narrow lane descending rather in the manner of a helter-skelter ride, the appearance of a 12 foot crucifix on a lonely corner of the wooded slopes is far more eerie. It marks the entrance to the Friary of St. Francis, where Brothers test their vocation and wayfarers are cared for.

In addition to the church, there is little else but a few cottages and a well-thatched farmhouse. In 1973 the bells were stolen, but were recovered at Ringwood a few days later.

This almost forgotten village has known more important days. In 1864, there were 184 villagers, but by 1972 that figure had dropped to 69, of which 19 were over 60 years of age.

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