The Somerset village that’s having to put a stop to more than 100 fairy doors appearing in the woods

Last year an entire fairy playground appeared, complete with 2ft-high slides and swings

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The Independent Online

For centuries they have lived unobtrusively at the bottom of the garden. Yet in a wild wood in Somerset, fairies – or at least decorative doors signalling their apparent presence – have reached such numbers that Britain’s first fairy control measures have been introduced.

Volunteers managing Wayford Woods in the Somerset village of Wayford, near Crewkerne, acted after being overwhelmed by more than 100 fairy doors that had mysteriously appeared at the bases of their beech, ash and oak trees.

Sometimes tiny doll’s house chairs and beds would be found behind the doors, and delighted children would flock from far and wide to leave notes for the fairies – reassuring them that they believed they exist, and asking them to grant wishes.

But the Wayford Woods Charitable Trust, which manages the 21-acre site, has grown increasingly worried about possible damage to trees that have had doors screwed into them, and by litter resulting from the wind scattering the notes all over the woodland.

“Quality control” issues have also been raised, with one trustee insisting that fairies, shy and self-effacing by nature, would never be happy living behind the garish tinsel-covered, bright pink doors that have started appearing.

Trustees and volunteers have now taken to telling people not to screw any more little doors into live trees, and advising against anything too garish for fairies, while conducting their rounds of the wood.

They are also clearing away windblown notes, as well as doors that have become detached from trees and may pose a hazard if they still have screws poking out. 

“We’re not anti-fairy,” insisted trustee Steven Acreman, “But we’ve got little doors everywhere. It’s in danger of getting out of control.”

His wife Gillian, a retired potter, added that when the first fairy door appeared to have joined the roe deer and squirrels already living in the wood it was “charming”.

“It was about four years ago,” she recalled. “The little wooden door had a little handle, and a little window. You could easily walk past it without noticing. It wasn’t a problem. Then a second door appeared…”

The woods became inundated. Families came from up to 80 miles away, leaving more doors. “Last year,” said Ms Acreman, “an entire fairy playground appeared at the bottom of the woods, complete with 2ft slides and swings. Some doors are far from the paths, so when children go to see them, the bluebells get trampled.”

“It has just gone mad on the internet,” she added. “We’re called ‘Fairy Woods’ now.”

Ms Acreman explained that not everyone was charmed by the doors. “Some older people, used to walking round the woods when they were untouched, have complained.”

Some doors have been pulled away from trees, perhaps by disgruntled walkers acting on their own initiative, but Ms Acreman insisted this was not the work of anyone at the trust. “We like fairies,” she said. “We don’t want to discourage fairies. But we want people to avoid damaging trees and flowers. 

“We don’t want children hurt by nails sticking out of detached doors. And we want the woods to be a wood, not a pleasure park.”

Her fellow trustee Andrew Hutchings, a tree surgeon, said the fairy control measures were already achieving success. “Since we started telling people not to screw anything into live trees, they have started putting doors on little stakes.”

Urging people against pink and tinsel, he added: “We don’t want to ruin the wood’s character.  Please remember that fairies are shy.  They don’t want a door that can be seen from 100ft away.”

He also confirmed that no one knew who was pulling fairy doors away from trees. “Perhaps it was the goblins,” he said.