We all know the stories of Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Snow White, but Macclesfield-based arts organisation Wild Rumpus have revealed in a survey that 90% of people couldn’t think of one fairy tale that they knew to be English. While it’s never in doubt that England has a long history of folklore and fairy tales, few people seem to recognise classic stories like Jack and the Beanstalk and Chicken Licken as English. While preparing for their major family arts event based around English fairy tales, The Spellbound Forest, Wild Rumpus were keen to discover how clued up the general public were on our home grown fairy tales.

It was announced last week that a collection of 500 new fairytales were found in Germany. The collection ranged from alternative versions of well-known classics like Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella to brand new adventures with witches, princesses, frogs and kings.

This discovery is exciting, but if there is a hunger for fresh fairy tales then people needn’t just look to Europe. A wealth of classic English fairy tales seem to be completely unknown to the British public. Joseph Jacob’s collection English Fairy Tales from 1890 holds nearly 50 tales where classics such as Dick Whittington, The Three Little Pigs and The History of Tom Thumb, lie alongside relatively unknown tales such as Tattercoats or The Earl Mar’s Daughter

Wild Rumpus director Sarah Bird, said, “Once we started reading traditional English fairy tales, we couldn’t believe that we hadn’t come across these amazing, enchanting stories before. The fairy tales that our children hear are dominated by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, which are great stories, but we seem to have a blind spot when it comes to traditional English fairy tales”.

Wild Rumpus is working in partnership with the Forestry Commission to bring four English fairy tales to life  at Delamere Forest in Cheshire in May. The Spellbound Forest, which has received Arts Council funding, will see forest pathways lined with theatre, music, dance and visual arts. The four fairytales featured have been adapted for the event, and you can read and listen to The Three Heads of the Well, Tattercoats, The Earl Mar’s Daughter and The Magpie’s Nest at www.spellboundforest.org.uk.