Little Waldingfield History Society was pleased to welcome Pip Wright to the Parish Room on All Hallows Eve where he regaled us with many of the stories on Witches he has collected after many years research, which hopefully the following snippets illustrate.
- “For as long as history itself, East Anglians have been a superstitious lot. It is 300 years since officials told us to stop persecuting witches, but old habits die hard; after all, if the bible and Shakespeare recognise witches, who are we to disagree”.
- Surprisingly, we learned that “Witchcraft was not a crime in Tudor times, though after Henry VIII's reformation, heresy and superstition reached the point of public paranoia”.
- Seemingly, “It took many years for a Witchcraft Act to appear on the statute books, finally occurring in 1563, following which three women in Chelmsford were almost immediately accused and tried, albeit receiving wildly differing sentences”.
- Rather worryingly, “Across the country, children testified against parents and grandparents, and in Pendle, Lancashire, a nine year old daughter gave evidence that lead to the deaths of her mother and sister”.
- We heard that the notorious self-appointed Witch finder General, Matthew Hopkins, “Travelled widely in East Anglia, bringing hundreds of witches to trial and could persuade virtually any accused witch to confess by using techniques such as sleep deprivation”.
- Lastly, we learned that the Hammer Horror film “Witch finder General” was filmed in and around Bury, with the witch burning scenes being set in Lavenham market square - altogether too close to home for comfort!
Everyone had a most entertaining evening learning some of the ways of witches, speculating who in our midst could be holding dark secrets and being grateful we live in the 21st Century.
At our next talk on “Bombs, Beams and Boffins”, Paddy Heazell will explain the mysteries of Orford Ness, which some might consider as modern day witchcraft, and we look forward to welcoming guests new and old to the Parish Room on Nov 21st for what is sure to be another entertaining and informative evening.