Pendle Hill, Lancashire. Some of us have visited and some of us have seen its beauty from a nearby town or village, while some of us have only seen pictures and paintings. Which ever it is, I think we can all agree there is something rather spine-chilling, hair on end, goose pimple tingling, about this place.
With amazing walks and beautiful scenery, why is it that this beautiful place has such a gloomy feel to it? Is it the history of the the Pendle Witches? Or the knowing of what went on there?, that gives us the chills. Or could there be something more sinister at work? Are the spirits of these poor, innocent people, that where wrongly accused still stuck waiting for the taboo to be over?
BETRAYAL FROM THE YOUNGEST DAUGHTER
The use of children giving evidence in court had just started. Jennete Device stood in court and denounced her family and the locals as witches. Her mother Elizabeth Device (daughter of old Demdike) screamed out and pleaded with her daughter to stop.Jeanette’s older sister Alison later gave a confession of her traumatic account of bewitching a man, causing him to drop to the floor instantly and unable to move an entire side of his body. Jennette’s brother, mother, grand mother and the other accused locals remained adamant of their innocence.
KING JAMES’S DEMONOLOGY
Despite the protocol during any witch trial back then, the courts, did not use slandered protocol, instead they followed what king James’s demonology book depicted witches to be. For example king James wrote about the teat that feeds the devil, this could be any un-explained lump or bump. For example a wart or mole would often be found dead near the genital area.
Other examples in the book today would be explained as poverty, genetic defects and even possibly mental health but according to King James, these are all signs of a witch and the witches found guilty possessed some if not all of these qualities.
THE DARK CORNER OF THE LAND
This part of Lancashire was described as the dark corner of the land. It was a place where it was said the locals act and look quite odd. Not only did the witches fit this stereo type they where also found to be so bizarre that even the local population where fearful.Old mother Demdike was known for making the sick better for a small price and any one who stopped paying knew the consequences. Using herbs and other parts of the land Demdike would make these ‘potions’ that would either make you better or make you as sick as a dog.THE BLACK DOG AND THE BROWN DOG
Both the family of old Demdike and the family of old Chattox summoned dogs, these beasts where believed to be familiar in appearance, both similar in description. The black dog was the familiar belonging to Demdike and the brown to Chattox both supposedly used to do to do the evil deeds of the witches, both were supposedly used when ever someone was bewitched. They brought misery shortly after they were seen by anyone. Even today they are still seen and heard around Pendle Hill.
THE WITCH COTTAGE
In 2011, United Utilities were using a digger when they accidentally unearthed cottage that easily dates back to the 1600’s. The cottage seemed to be complete. Potion bottles and the skeletal remains of felines still remained. It is believed that witches used multiple animal sacrifices in their rituals. That being said, this could just have been any average Joe’s cottage.
This is because during the 1600’s people were very superstitious and it wasn’t uncommon for people to bury a dead cat close to or within their property as a sort of protection against….. you guessed it dark magic and demons.
In 2012 the witches cottage was covered up in an attempt to protect it from the elements that were causing damage and from urban explorers who were taking bits of the cottage as souvenirs.
If you know Pendle Hill then you know the location is pretty easy to find. The house itself however is buried away safe and sound. It’s almost impossible to find this cottage now.
Starting in Barley there is a trail that you can follow with signs pointing you in the direction to go. There are even pictures of a witch with a pointy hat. What makes this walk so strange is that there is never just one sign pointing in any one direction. You can come across 2 or 3 in one place and not one of them will be pointing the same way.Personally I think the reason behind this is because no one knows exactly where these women would meet up.
All we have is a rough idea and the only place we know for a fact that all of them meet up was Malkin Tower but we don’t know where Malkin Tower is and I don’t think we ever will know, unless like the cottage, it’s one day accidentally unearthed.Certain areas on this walk are believed to make some people feel light headed or unwell. Some people feel they are being watched. And some believe to have actually seen either the black or the brown dog.
GUILTY OF WITCH CRAFT
The names of those that where found guilty of witchcraft at Lancaster castle in the Pendle Witch trials were; Elizabeth southern (mother demdike) Elizabeth device (daughter of demdike) Alison device (granddaughter of demdike) James device (grandson of demdike) Anne whittle (old chattox) Anne redferne (daughter of old chattox) Alice nutter Jane bulcock John bulcock Katherine Hewitt (old mouldy heals) Isobel robey Margaret pearson. (The padiham witch) Demdike died of prison fever and the rest apart from Margaret pearson where hung. Margaret was found guilty of riding a horse to its death and bewitching a padiham local. She was sentenced to stand upon the pillory for
four market days in Lancaster, Colne, Padiham and Clitheroe.
THE IRONIC FATE OF JENNETE
Years later a young boy was late home one night and he told his parents of how he was in the witches house and how the witches where having a witches tea party. His dad marched him around all over to identify the witches. Some where hung and one of the women identified was a 18 year old girl named Jennete Device. She was at first found guilty and while in Lancaster prison awaiting to be hung the truth came out that the boy was lying so that he didn’t get in trouble for being late.
Instead of hanging her or instead of setting her free they kept her until she could pay the board for the time she had spent there. This was an impossible task and she would spend the rest of her life at Lancaster Castle, just like her grandmother before her. Was it just irony, fate? or had her grandmother cursed her with the same fate she had suffered all those years before?
LOCALS TALES AND BELIEFS
Most locals to Pendle Hill will know the tale of the witch trials, some believe that they were in fact witches, while others believe that they were just innocent people that where failed massively by the justice system.
Some think that they were cunning women who had knowledge about the land and knew what herbs plants and natural remedies would make someone feel better or unwell. Others believed the black and brown dogs are real while others think that maybe certain fungi and being told to watch out for a big dog had more to do with it. Most people from Pendle have stories about intense, frightening stuff happening on hikes or while out walking the dog. Others say it’s peaceful walk, however everyone can agree that this dark corner of the land has an even darker history.
Jamie Lee Tappin – Writer And Fan Of Soul Reaper Paranormal