NATIONAL Trust chiefs are urging residents to share their tales of Dorset and Hampshire's rich folklore.

The charity wants to gather folk beliefs rooted in communities in both counties so they can be shared across the UK, as part of a project looking at superstitions.

Jessica Monaghan, the National Trust’s head of experiences and programming, said: “Autumn is a time when visitors are keen to discover and learn and our autumn programmes are growing in popularity all the time.

“We can all see how much Halloween has captured the public imagination in recent years and our visitors are increasingly interested in the folklore and superstition that is attached to this time of year.

“It is a brilliant way into learning about the history of beliefs and traditions.

"Adults and kids have great fun with it and we want to provide many more experiences and activities in the future.”

Exactly how Old Harry got his name is hotly debated but some say Harry Rocks at Studland Bay is linked to the devil who, legend had it, once took a nap on the summit.

Others claim he is named after the notorious Poole pirate Harry Paye who terrorised the English Channel in the 14th century, said a National Trust spokesman.

"It is said Harry’s ship used to lurk behind the rocks ready to pounce on passing merchantmen," they added.

Meanwhile, for some, Corfe Castle will forever be associated with dark deeds, miraculous events and the murder of a king who became a saint.

According to the trust the West Bailey contains the earliest surviving building in the castle, the Norman Old Hall, which is thought to occupy the site of an even older Saxon hall.

It was here the drama is said to have unfolded on 18 March 978. The teenage King Edward was visiting his stepmother Elfryda and half-brother Ethelred at Corfe Castle.

The spokesman said: "What happened next is shrouded in the mists of time. Some say Edward was murdered on the orders of his stepmother and quickly buried, with little pomp, at nearby Wareham."

Many people across the nation still refuse to walk under ladders, always throw a pinch over their left shoulder when they spill salt, or never put shoes on the table lest it leads to bad luck.

And plenty of autumn and winter traditions are related to food and harvest. In cider-producing regions, orchard wassailing, where people sing to the apple trees (and sometimes hang toast on them) to awaken the trees and frighten away evil spirits, remains a popular January pastime.

Some of these traditions still make sense today, such as not walking under ladders, but in many cases the reasons behind the traditions and beliefs are being lost.

People can share their tales by emailing and joining the conversation on the charity’s social media channels @NationalTrust or @ntsouthwest