The Little Horsemen of Padstow

Little Horsemen of Padstow and Enys Tregarthen Puppet at Padstow Museum
Enys meets the Little Horsemen at Padstow Museum

There was once a grand house in the market square at Padstow, it had two little men on horseback standing on its roof. The house was rebuilt and modernized many times yet the horses and horsemen stood on top of the house for hundreds of years. The house became a bank, Barclays Bank, and the horseman stayed put on the roof. Legend told, when the clock struck twelve midnight, the little men got down and galloped around town. Generations of Padstow children had heard the tale of the two horsemen, every child had wandered about them but none had stayed up until midnight to see them ride through town. A nine year old boy called Robin lived in a big house near the market square. Robin was very interested in the little horsemen. His mum and dad had often told him stories of the horsemen and Robin very much wanted to see them run about town but he had never stayed awake late enough to see them.

One night, Robin woke up to find himself tucked up on the sofa with only the hall light on in all the house. It was very quiet as his mum and dad had gone to a party and hadn’t expected Robin to wake up until morning. Robin went outside and stood at the top of the stone stairway leading down to the market place. The church clock began to strike twelve, Robin looked across the market square to see if he could see the horsemen. It was a full moon and he could clearly see the little statues on top of the grand house.

The moment the clock stopped striking, the little men kicked their horses on and rode down into the market place. They were real and Robin was very excited. The way the horsemen rode stiffly along was very comical and Robin laughed and clapped his hands. Robin ran down the steps and after the horsemen. They stopped for a moment then turned up Workhouse Hill and disappeared. Robin ran faster, he ran and ran. He was half way up Church Hill when he saw them riding towards him. He got onto the footpath and waited. The little men were laughing and clearly enjoying their ride. Robin began running alongside them but they were soon ahead of him and out of sight.

When finally, Robin made it through town, he looked up at the big house and there were the two little men, sitting straight backed on their little horses, as if they had never moved. Robin looked up at their still faces until he felt cold himself. He walked back across the market until he came to his own steps and sat down and waited for his parents to come home. I saw the little horsemen running through the town.’ he told his dad excitedly. ‘They were just like you told me they would be. Am I the only child to ever see them?’ You are the first child to see them moving, Robin and the last.’

Nellie Sloggett looks out of a window at the new hoersemen on a rooftop

The little men have crossed the road, and now live high in the roof of the fudge shop. They still ride their little horses through Padstow when the clock strikes twelve. I think there will be more children in the future lucky enough to see the little horsemen riding by. Don’t you?

retold by Anna Chorlton
from Enys Tregarthen ‘Legends and Tales of North Cornwall’

  • Padstow