Williamson Park and the gloriously self-indulgent Ashton Memorial overlook the city of Lancaster; from here, the Castle can be clearly seen. The Park comprises over fifty acres of woodland but the focal point is the Memorial, a white dome which can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. This is a popular place for recreation and relaxation, even though locals are aware that it is also the site of the ancient Gallows Hill, where prisoners were brought from the Castle to meet their deaths.
The exact spot of execution is not marked, but it was here, with that glorious view, that the Pendle Witches were hanged on August 20th 1612. It is thought that the hanging was carried out by putting the noose around the prisoner’s neck while they stood on the cart which brought them there, which would then be moved away, leaving them dangling.
Anne Chattox died here, as did Anne Redfern, Jane and John Bullock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Isobel Robey and Elizabeth, James and Alison Device. Elizabeth Southerns would doubtless have died here also, had she not expired in the misery of her cell at Lancaster Castle. Their bodies would have been buried near this place, but as they were judged to be witches they were not given a Christian burial, nor was their resting-place marked.
(copyright & photo credit Melanie Warren 2013)
“It has been estimated that all of the English witch trials between the early 15th and early 18th centuries resulted in fewer than 500 executions; this series of trials accounts for more than two per cent of that total.” yikes! What were the sons accused of and how old were they?
It’s such a complicated story that I can only point you to this amazing website; ‘executed today’: http://www.executedtoday.com/tag/john-bulcock/ which will tell you more. Note that many of these ‘witches’ were condemned on the word of a nine-year-old girl.
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Alice Nutter has a grave at Newchurch in Pendle. It is marked & named
There is a grave of an Alice Nutter but it’s not absolutely certain to be that of this Alice. Opinions on this vary. As she was condemned as a witch, it would have been most unusual for her to be buried in consecrated ground, even if she was from a relatively wealthy family.
Tragic chapter in our history. Manipulated and falsified evidence, brutal torture (even though it is illegal in England, as much then as it is now), illegal trials and desperate prison conditions. These people were not criminals or evil. They deserve pardoning, their bodies found and exhumed and given a proper, decent burial in consecrated ground. RIP all of them, particularly Alizon, a young girl charged and murdered, yes murdered by the justice system for bewitching a man when in fact he had a stroke. God bless her and all the others who died with her on that awful day.
Hear hear, Christine.
That is v interesting.