If you head out for a walk along The Roaches in the Staffordshire Moorlands area of the Peak District, you will pass Doxey Pool (also known as Doxy’s Pool). This small tarn always seems to maintain a full level whatever the weather whilst having no visible tributaries. According to local legend, the pool is bottomless, and home to a sinister mermaid referred to as Jenny Greenteeth. The Doxey Pool mermaid waits to lure unsuspecting waters into her bottomless pool, to their deaths.
The origin of the legend is unclear although it may spring from the mild phenomenon of the water never seeming to dry up no matter what the conditions. The tarn was reputed to be linked by an underground river to the Atlantic Ocean. Another suggestion is that Doxey Pool is adjoined through a shorter underground tunnel to nearby Blakemere. 3 miles away on Morridge Moor, Blakemere is also the subject of a mermaid legend. The two pools were supposedly fed by a source underground. Perhaps the mermaid of Blakemere is the same mythical creature as the Doxey Pool Mermaid, travelling between the pools through a dark, underground tunnel? Whilst geological evidence does not support such a suggestion of an adjoining tunnel, both pools are at roughly the same height above sea level. Both similarly never seem to dry out. It is easy to see how an assumed link between the two pools could be made.
The 1949 Mermaid Sighting
In 1949, Ms Florence Pettit who resided nearby, walked up to the Roaches one early morning. Her intention was to bathe in the pool’s blue water before taking lunch with a friend. According to her account, whilst preparing for her morning swim, she witnessed a strange water spirit rise from the pool. M. Pettit claimed that the creature rose some 30 feet in the air. The monstrous apparition was made from the weeds and the water itself. It looked at her giving her a menacing stare, before sinking back to become one with the pool again.
Ms Pettit some years later recounted a conversation she had with a passing rambler. When she asked the walker if he had ever walked along the Roaches he replied “Not Likely – There’s a haunted lake on the top”
Who is, or was, Jenny Greenteeth?
Local folklore suggests that the mermaid in Doxey Pool is the spirit of an unfortunate woman who drowned in the pool. Leaving the path in fog she stumbled into the pond and was unable to climb out. Her spirit is unable to move on and lays in wait for any unwary walker, to drag them to a watery grave.
In local legend, Jenny Greenteeth is the name of the mermaid or nymph. This name is not by any means unique to the Doxey Pool mermaid. A Jenny (or sometimes Ginny) Greenteeth is a figure based in North-West English folklore. A “Wicked Jenny” is another term used, depending on the dialect of the area.
A Jenny/Ginny Greenteeth is described as a wizened hag with green skin, long hair and sharp teeth. In legend, she lives in rivers and ponds waiting to pull the unwary to their deaths. The same nickname has also been given to Duckweed. Duck or pond weed forms a mat over the surface of still pond water, making it easily mistaken for land at night or in fog, tempting the unwary to step into the water.
The creature Jenny Greenteeth is most likely to be a folk tale made up as an allegory for the hazardous duckweed to deter children from venturing too close to ponds and falling in.
The Goddess Brigit
A possible explanation for the legend is given by the name of the lake: Doxey Pool, or Doxy’s Pool. The term Doxy is an archaic term defined as a female lover or mistress; a female prostitute or a woman regarded as sexually promiscuous.
One theory is that the lake was used by Celtic tribes in the area for the worship of Brigid, goddess of fertility and motherhood. This use of the pool would certainly give rise to a link with a female spirit.
The pool may have been referred to as “The Doxy’s Pool” by Anglo-Saxon settlers moving north into the Peak District. The term being used in its derogatory way to paint the Celtic goddess as a whore and lessen Celtic influence. Over time, names and legends may have melded together to create the tales around Doxy Pool.
As for the witness of Ms Pettit, who knows why she saw what she perceived? Was it a swirling fog over the high escarpment? A trick of light around a cloud inversion? There have been no further sightings of the Jenny Greenteeth since her report in 1949. However, it pays to be alert and keep to the path if walking The Roaches at night or in fog!