Filed under English folklore

A Witch Saved

This is from Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal from 1773: A few days ago, at the Village of Seend, in Wiltshire, a Report prevailed, that a Woman who was dangerously ill of a putrid Fever, was bewitched, and this Report excited the Curiosity of Numbers of her Neighbours to go and se hr. The Fever attending … Continue reading

Wassailing Exotically

Wassailing Exotically

Here’s a gem from the V&A museum, a wassail set, but not for country yokels! This is made of lignum vitae, an expensive hardwood from the West Indies, and ivory.   

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

What happened to objects when Henry VIII closed the monasteries? This is an area of history that is often ignored or the subject of guesswork, especially in England where there was so much destruction of religious artefacts at the long drawn-out Reformation. But here’s some thoughts. Every church that conducted masses had to have a … Continue reading

A True Romance

A True Romance

Here’s some rather wonderful images from Winchester Cathedral. Many old churches have lovely carved tombs to dead crusaders, but this one, remembering the Earl of Arundel and his second wife Eleanor, from about 1307 is rather special. Despite their wealth they left instructions to be buried together without pomp. She has her legs crossed, like … Continue reading

Norfolk Witches

Norfolk Witches

This is from The Norfolk Broads published 1903  by William Dutt, as described by the rector of Rockland: He assured me that even now there were men and women in Rockland and its neighbourhood who sought the aid of “wise women” and “cunning men” when a child was lost; who would not allow their relatives … Continue reading

Words and Image of a Nobody

Words and Image of a Nobody

There are a lot of images from our history that suggest there was some heavy drug taking happening – disproportioned people, strange animals etc. These are often accepted as elements of folklore but there may have been a more straightforward explanation, as a mans of insulting the rich and powerful without getting arrested. This was … Continue reading

Medieaval Selfie Stick?

Here’s a very strangely modern image It’s part of a medieval manuscript: At first I thought it was a joke, but it is in the museum of anthropology in Cambridge, a display on children in history, so look closer: The boys are playing on hobby horses, so playing at jousting, with their poles. What seems … Continue reading

Superstitions in Cambridge

Superstitions in Cambridge

These are from the Cambridge Local History Museum : This is a witches’ bottle, designed to dazzle a witch to prevent her working evil: And this is the local equivalent of a voodoo doll, with pins stuck into it, called the Corp Chreadh or clay body. They could also place it in water so the … Continue reading

Writing Non Fiction

Writing Non Fiction

Writing fiction or non fiction requires the ability to get inside a story, and inside the heads of characters. But non fiction has to go further – it has to be checkable, you need to protect yourself from challenges. But the process of research and writing can change you for the better. I am a … Continue reading

Elizabeth’s Unicorn Horn

Since Elizabeth was famously a virgin, it is no surprise she owned several unicorn horns. I am intrigued that this one has also been used for medicinal purposes. This is from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. Platter’s visit to Nonesuch Palace included a tour of the rooms, including They showed us the circular horn of a … Continue reading