the long way round

The Pedlar of Swaffham

Long ago there was a pedlar, a man who travelled about selling his wares, by the name of John Chapman who lived in Swaffham, a small country town in Norfolk.Now this pedlar had a dream that if he went to London Bridge he would hear news greatly to his advantage. Only when the dream was repeated the next night did he act on it, and packing his bag, he and his dog walked to London.He found his way to London Bridge early one morning and stood there waiting for the promised news.
The hours passed, and eventually a shopkeeper who had been watching him just standing there gave in to his curiosity and walked across and asked if he needed help.The pedlar told him of his dream, and the shopkeeper laughed, saying that if he had believed in dreams he would be in a place called Swaffham, where ever that was, digging up gold under the apple tree of a man called Chapman, but that he didn\’t believe in dreams and that the pedlar should go back home and carry on with his life. The pedlar thanked the man for his advice, and made his way back home.  Upon reaching home, he dug under his apple tree and found a small pot filled with gold coins. He put the coins away and cleaned the pot, finding a strange inscription. As he couldn’t understand the inscription he put the pot on his stall and life carried on.A few weeks later a wandering monk passed the stall and spotted the inscription on the pot. He asked the pedlar if he knew what it said, and when the pedlar said no, the monk translated it for him…‘Under me doth lie, another richer far than I’When the monk had gone, the pedlar quickly dug under the apple tree again, much deeper this time, and eventually found a much larger pot again filled with gold.   Soon after, the inhabitants of Swaffham decided to rebuild the church, and were very surprised to find the pedlar offering to pay for the north aisle and the tower.

I read the story in this book by storyteller Hugh Lupton, but I’ve taken the tale from the Web.

pedlar of swaffham

Here’s how Hugh Lupton begins it:

“Once upon a time there lived a man called John Chapman. He was a pedlar by trade, and he tramped the streets, lanes and roads, he tramped the highways and the by-ways of England, selling pins and mirrors, ribbons and reels of thread, knives and scissors, pills and ointments and ballad sheets. And wherever he went, he would take his little dog with him, running at his heels…”

Hearing that there is a statue of John Chapman in Swaffham, with the words ‘Even dreams can turn to gold” carved into the stone base, Sam asks “Is the cottage still there? If it was we could go and see if there was still any gold there!”



  1. vixen said

    Alert! Money laundry operation covering tale!

    ‘Pedlar’ (read, big gangster, smuggler, street robber) Chapman in advanced age wanted to make a donation to the church so that his sins were forgiven. The money was big so he could order a tale to go with it. And as we know priests are expert liars, esp. when there is gold coins involved. They of course had every interested because they didn’t want to show that the church was built with bloody money. So they made up a great story! So unbelievable that it’s easily believed.

    Accountants can tell a lie or two to the tax service (f. e. provide false receipts from a Casino) when our client pays well, but we will never beat a priest!
    Alert! Money Laundry! Ha ha ha!!!!

    Nothing better to make my day than killing a tale! I will tell Doubting Thomas and he will be proud of me.
    Have a nice week SG. Thank you!

  2. Simon G said

    Yes… I was suspicious myself. I maybe had a hint of a suspicion that there was some kind of money-laundering going on, but I hadn’t let it into my thoughts. Now it’s all coming out.

    What’s even more is that it seems to be a global covert operation:

    Get this –

    Rumi, writing from what is now Turkey in the 13th Century has a similar story

    ‘of a man of Baghdad who was in great distress, and who, after calling on God for aid, dreamt that a great treasure lay hid in a certain spot in Egypt. He accordingly journeyed to Egypt, and there fell into the hands of the patrol, who arrested him, and beat him severely on suspicion of being a thief. Calling to mind the proverb that “falsehood is a mischief but truth a remedy,” he determined to confess the true reason of his coming to Egypt, and accordingly told them all the particulars of his dream. On hearing them they believed him, and one of them said, “You must be a fool to journey all this distance merely on the faith of a dream. I myself have many times dreamt of a treasure lying hid in a certain spot in Baghdad, but was never foolish enough to go there.” Now the spot in Baghdad named by this person was none other than the house of the poor man of Baghdad, and he straightway returned home, and there found the treasure. And he gave thanks, and recognized how “God causes ease to follow troubles.”‘

    Notice the religious angle in the cover up again…

    And there is this jewish story, about, yes, a rabbi this time:

    Same cover story! Strictly between you and me, I’m starting to think there’s something big going on here.

    If they pull the plug on this blog, or maybe just this entry, keep your head down….

  3. vixen said

    Oh man, Rumi’s tale was a cover story for 13th century Iraqi police brutality!

  4. isl_gr said

    Jesus, what a mess ‘agrimi’ has created ! Quickly call the blog launderers!
    And I the stupid who thought that this kind of tales taught us ‘You can go round the world looking but the treasure is in you’….

  5. Simon G said

    Ah, stories are meant to be wild places for wild beasts; you of all people know, el, that they are not to be concreted over with The Real Meaning. I like nana’s unofficial version. But I know you mean well – you know she will run rings round me unless someone steps in.

  6. Anonymous said

    Many churches and even entire monasteries in Greece were built with money of the faithful because an icon had miraculously appeared (shone in the night, came in dreams) to someone. These stories leak from every side and yet… Faith is so important.

  7. Anonymous said

    We are all little Sams!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: