Kitty Jay's Grave

Jay's Grave (or Kitty Jay's Grave) belongs to a woman named Jay which located at the side of a minor road, about 1 mile (1.6 km) north west of Hound Tor, at the entrance to a green lane that leads to Natsworthy, is supposedly the last resting place of a suicide victim who is thought to have died in the late 18th century.

Around 1790, an orphaned baby was taken into the Poor House at Newton Abbot. The little girl was named, as was the custom, with a surname beginning with whatever letter the Poor House had progressed to, in this case 'J'. As many of the commoner names had been taken the baby girl ended up with 'Jay'. In those days the word 'Jay' was also a slang term for a prostitute so the Christian name of Mary was added.

In her late teens Jay had to leave the home and was sent as an apprentice and farmhand to a farm located just outside the town of Manaton. She was utilised as cheap/free labour. She worked for the roof over her head and the food in her stomach. She worked both in the house and the fields making for very hard labour.

She now sometimes acquires the name Kitty after being sent to Canna Farm as a teenage apprentice. In one version of the tale she is raped by a local farmhand. In another version she finds romance with the farmer's son. Either way she becomes pregnant which results in her being thrown out of the farm and left with a reputation as a 'slut'. Such is her shame and despair that she hangs herself in a barn.

When she was discovered, she was taken down unceremoniously, and taken to be buried. One after another the local parishes refused to bury her in their cemeteries, as she had committed suicide, which was an act against not only the law, but also against God. She must be buried in a manner befitting her crime.
Jay's Grave

According to the local tradition that any suicide could not be buried in consecrated ground as so they were interred at a crossroads, some times with a stake driven through their hearts. This was to ensure that the restless soul of the departed could not return to haunt god fearing mortals.

This was the fate of Kitty Jay, she was buried at the intersection of a road and a moorland track. The grave soon became known as 'Jay's Grave' and it did not take long for strange events to start taking place.

Interestingly, there are always fresh flowers on the grave, the placement of which is the subject of local folklore. Motorists, passing at night, claim to have glimpsed ghostly figures in their headlights.

On certain moonlit nights a dark figure could be seen kneeling beside the sad little mound with bowed head and its face buried in its hands. Nobody has ever been able to say if the spectral figure was male or female because it was always wrapped in a thick, black cloak. There are two schools of thought as to who the ghostly apparition is, some say it is the spirit of one of those responsible for driving Kitty from the farm and others say that it is the soul of the faithless farmer's son who as punishment has been sent to stand vigil over the grave of his victim and his unborn child.


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