Shropshire Star

The Devil's Chair: The unsettling story behind an eye-catching Shropshire landmark

If you've been in Shropshire any length of time and you have even a passing interest in hiking, chances are you've seen the Stiperstones.

Some young visitors take a look at the Devil's Chair on the Stiperstones in 1958. Picture: S.R. Turner

The distinctive, rocky ridge southwest of Shrewsbury is one of the county's elite walking destinations, the second-highest hill in the county and an easily-accessible route.

It is also known for its tors of quartzite, lumpy outcrops that jut from the landscape and tell the story of the ancient rock that makes up this corner of the country.

One of the tors has a particularly creepy tale to tell, and is known for miles around as the Devil's Chair - Shropshire folklore says it was created by Old Scratch himself by accident.

Amy Boucher, an expert in Shropshire folklore and paranormal activity, knows the legend well.

She said: "In all of Shropshire, the Stiperstones is perhaps the place most synonymous with the Devil. The jewel in the crown of the area is the Devil’s Chair, which stands as part of several imposing rocky outcrops.

"The Devil’s Chair gets its name from folklore: it is said that 'Owd Scratch' was heading back through the hills after spending some time in Ireland.

"He carried with him a quantity of large stones, in his apron pocket, which he was planning to use to fill up a valley known as Hell's Gutter, which was not far from the area (alternative versions suggest he was planning to dam the River Severn and flood the whole of Shropshire).

"However, as one can imagine, carrying stones comes with its own set of challenges. It had been a long journey and he was beginning to feel the strain.

"Quite suddenly, his apron strings snapped, scattering the stones around him. This infuriated the Devil, and even to this day he is said to jump up and down on the stones, trying to force them back to earth. When he succeeds, it is believed that England will fall.

"Another story suggests that the Devil uses the ‘Devil’s Chair’ exactly as the name suggests - a chair, or throne, to watch out over the whole of the county and plan his evil deeds.

"Though a popular walking destination now, it was generally believed to be a dangerous place, particularly on the longest night of the year.

"This is when the Devil sits and calls forth all the counties’ followers, witches, warlocks, and cruel spirits, to judge their misdeeds, as they partake in the most important black mass of the year, culminating in the election of the King of Evil for the following year."