Filed under English folklore

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

Salisbury Craft and Heritage Festival

Salisbury Craft and Heritage Festival

This 3 day event linked the Cathedral’s wonderful Glass Exhibition with the annual Doors Open Day, so a brilliant combination. Arrayed outside the cathedral were a number of potters, wood and stone carvers, weavers and others. One woman combined making and teaching  felt animals with repairing cane seats on chairs. An impressive mixture. I was … Continue reading

Barnacle Geese

This is from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. I’ve heard this story before, but he’s the first I know of to send samples home.  Claikgeese [barnacles] of which I sent a jug full of shells to Basel from Langue d’Oc, are to be found in England, more especially in Scotland. And these shells grow … Continue reading

How Old and Ugly Were Witches?

I have always worried at the bad images we have of witches, especially those who were punished for their ‘crimes’. The image of an ugly, isolated old woman just doesn’t seem to fit many of the cases, in particular the famous Pendle witches. The old hags seem more cartoon characters. Many pamphlets and ballads were … Continue reading

Belief, Gardening and Rituals

Belief, Gardening and Rituals

My father was raised a Catholic, but when the church supported conscription in World War II and he was forced to become a soldier, he turned against it, and for the rest of his life railed against all forms of organised religion. As a result I grew up with little understanding of faith beyond singing … Continue reading

A Local Witch

This comes from Joseph Ashby of Tysoe 1859-1919, a real goldmine of  first person details. This is unusual as it shows the boys misbehaving, but also the old woman treating them with what seems to be benign indifference. Was this sort of behaviour so commonplace at the time? Or did she know they meant no … Continue reading

Ghost Soldiers

Yet another Berkshire tale. The idea of ghosts sticking to old building designs seems fairly common, and intriguing. Not sure if the present inhabitants would have known of the additions, so unclear if such ideas were included for veracity. I wonder if the soldiers felt pain. Also has parallels with the teleporter etc of science … Continue reading