Peg Powler is a hag, who dwells in the River Tees. Although the crown of green tresses is normally sybolic of a water deity, she is believed to be responsible for the deaths of a number of children.
Sometimes known as the High Green Ghost by residents in Middleton in Tees, Peg Powler is commonly described as an ugly old woman with a green skin, long hair and sharp teeth. She grabs the ankles of those who stand to close to the water, pulls them under water and drowns them. Swimming or wading in this river is strongly discouraged.
The foam or froth which gathers on the higher reaches of the river in great masses is known as “Peg Powler’s Suds“, while a thinner accumulation of this surface scum is known as “Peg Powler’s Cream.“
Similarities to other legends
Deaths attributed to water dwelling creatures are common in English folklore. Peg Powler shares similaries with a Grindylow or Grundylow, a folkloric creature from Yorkshire and Lancashire and thought to be link to Grendel, a creature in Beowolf and often connected to bogs, meres and lakes.
Jenny, Ginny or Jeannie Greenteeth, described similarly to Peg is thought to inhabit waters in Lancashire, Cheshire and Shropshire and grab both children and the elderly to the deaths.
Slavic folklore has similar, albiet male versions, widely known as Vodyanoy. Believed to appear as a naked old man with a frog-like face, greenish beard, and long hair, with his body covered in algae and muck, usually covered in black fish scales. He has webbed paws instead of hands, a fish’s tail, eyes that burn like red-hot coals. He usually rides along his river on a half-sunk log, making loud splashes. Consequently, he is often dubbed “grandfather” or “forefather” by the local people. Local drownings are said to be the work of the vodyanoy.