Kicking off WITCH SEASON with a map of Pendle Hill.
As you may or may not know, Pendle Hill is a lot like Salem, MA with plenty of witchy sites and stories. Except, the Lancashire Witch trials happened eighty years prior to Salem’s debacle.
Six of the ten executed in August of 1612 came from the same family. The area surrounding Pendle Hill in Lancashire was considered to be unruly and lawless. It wasn’t unusual for people in the area to try and seek a career as a healer. When two families fought for business, it didn’t end well for either. Probably two of the most notable women on trial was Mother Demdike (Elizabeth Southerns) and Chattox (Anne Whittle).
The entire country was in religious turmoil. When Elizabeth I took the throne, Catholics- devoted to Mary I, went into hiding. It was thought that many of these catholics went into remote areas such as Pendle Hill to have secret masses. In 1562, Elizabeth passed a law “An Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts” to deter these rebels. Breaking this act was punishable by death, but only when the crime “caused harm”. When James I took over in 1603, things got dicey. James was a well known witch hunter and actively campaigned to eliminate these so-called witches.
By 1612, a gruesome hunt for church “nonconformists” had begun. This all led to the 16 folks that found themselves on trial at Lancaster Castle. This included the Samlesbury Witches, the Padiham Witch, and several others. All were accused of bogus crimes ranging from just witchcraft, to child murder, cannibalism, and animal slaughter.
Ten were found guilty and sentenced to death. Anne Whittle, Anne Redferne, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alison Device, Alice Nutter, Jane Bulcock, John Bulcock, Katherine Hewitt and Isabel Robey were executed at Lancaster on August 20, 1612 for having bewitched to death ‘by devilish practices and hellish means’ no fewer than sixteen inhabitants of the Forest of Pendle. So sad.
Today, thousands of tourists flock to Pendle Hill during Halloween to see the sites.
In 2011, a utility company discovered what is to be a witches cottage at the base of Pendle Hill. You can read more about this here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-16066680
There’s an interesting documentary on these trials and the Pendle Hill area here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HaBPQti_Mk