Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Witch Cafe

On Saturday Andy went off to Essen in Germany to visit an old friend from college. I dropped him off at the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet, a convenient 20 minutes away, then continued down the M2 to see my Mum. I had decided to surprise her for Mother's Day which was on Sunday. 
I love this photo which I took as I was leaving. My Mum doesn't like her photo being taken really but I think this is a good one! Bertie the cat is in the window, waiting for Mum to come back in and make a fuss of him! We had a good day. On Sunday she was surprised again by my brother and his girlfriend, chocolates and scrabble!
This is my card. Crocheted Forget-Me Nots. My brother's card is below. As is my sister's.

After she had got over the surprise (!) and got ready, we set off for Headcorn and a late breakfast/early lunch at the cafe we like there. They do a lovely ham, egg and chips which is what I always have. I don't actually know the name of the cafe, but it might as well be called 'The Witch Cafe' as it is full of them. It sells all sorts of gifty type things, witch dolls being one of them. They hang up on their broomsticks all over the front and back rooms. I love looking at them. There are one or two that have taken my fancy before but I have always resisted. This time I found a little one who came home with me. On reading the label I discovered they are named after the witches of Pendle. This is a place in Lancashire, famous for its witch trials of the seventeenth century. I remember reading about them in my favourite childhood book, 'Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain. I also borrowed a book about them from a girl at secondary school which, to my shame, I never returned and still have. I have not read it but thought that I might now. The story of the witches started with one of them, a woman called Alizon, who was begging, and asked a pedlar called John Law for some pins. He refused and she cursed him. Immediately afterwards, he had a stroke, which he blamed on the curse. A local magistrate, Roger Nowell, got involved, Alizon confessed, and spoke about her involvement with witchcraft. The magistrate got confessions out of the women named and the witches went to trial and were hanged. 
The laws regarding witchcraft had changed during the reign of Henry VIII, who passed laws which made it a felony punishable by death. Elizabeth I changed this to apply only where harm had been caused to others. Then in 1604, in James I's reign, it changed again to include anyone who invoked evil spirits or communed with familiar spirits. Matthew Hopkins, the so called 'Witchfinder General' operated at this time. (He is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of 300 women over a two year period) It was not until 1735 that the law changed again to a different view. The more general opinion by then was that witchcraft was impossible, so pretence of witchcraft was what was punished-people claiming to be witches were seen as con artists. 
All of this makes a cheerful looking little doll seem quite trivial doesn't it? However, the leaflet that came with her gives some information on the origins of the dolls, and describes a tour you can do of the main sites involved in the lives of the witches so I suppose they at least are informative.


Jenny Woolf said...

There is a series of books called the Spook books, (I mean they all have the Spook in the title) which is written about a sort of imaginative version of Pendle and the witches. Really pretty readable. They are for teens, and well written and interesting.

Sarah said...

Thanks for that Jenny. More books to buy!