A Rare Antique Folk Art “Touch Wood And Whistle” Talisman
A Rare Antique Folk Art “Touch Wood And Whistle” Talisman.
A talisman is an object held to act as a charm to protect against evil influences such as demons, ghosts, witches, and familiars, and to bring good fortune. During the period from the 15th to the 18th century, when supernatural paranoia reached its peak, it was common practice for families to hide protective charms in the most vulnerable areas in their homes—usually in the walls close to entrances, under floorboards and inside chimneys.
The phrase “Touch Wood And Whistle” itself dates back to Pagan times and is based on malevolent male spirits inhabiting wood, and that if you expressed a hope for the future you should touch, or knock on, wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and presumably preventing your hopes from coming true. And, this is likely the reason for this piece being found buried in the wall of a religious building.
To the rear of the item is a hand written note which reads “This piece of oak was found buried in a very old wall at Lympstone Rectory in the year 1903”.
Lympstone is a village and civil parish in East Devon, and has a traceable history going back to the Romans. In fact, this ‘little manor’ of Lympstone has been linked with many famous or notorious persons over the centuries.
Whilst this piece appears to have been given as a gift at Christmas in 1910, the piece is clearly much older than this and could date back as far as the 18th century.