Here is an interesting post written by Miss Jessel at Lenora’s The Haunted Palace blog. It covers some local legends of ghosts, witches and cunning men in the village of Canewdon in Essex County in SE England, including stories about famous cunning men such as James Murrell (whom i had never heard of before) and George Pickingill. A lot of her source material comes from a very interesting website called Old George Pickingill and the History of Modern Witchcraft written by Scott Bisseker for Bill Lidden who wrote The Pickingill Papers awhile ago, which I have read. His website goes through all the controversies of the BTW spanning over the decades and even the last century or so. I am not totally convinced of Liddell’s claim of distant blood and initiatory lineage connections with Pickingill, but it makes interesting reading for sure. And for general information on the cunning wo/man tradition in England believe if or not Wiki has a pretty complete article called Cunning Folk in Britain. Enjoy and Blessed Be, and I promise i have an original post of my own in the works on IndoPaganism coming soon!
“The Witch Country”
For many people when asked what they know about the county of Essex, the most common responses are TOWIE, Essex girl jokes (What did the Essex girl say after the doctor told her she was pregnant? Is it mine?), Jodie Marsh, girls in miniskirts and white stilettos dancing around their handbags and Jamie Oliver cooking up school lunches whilst chattering away in his Estuary English patter. Negative stereotypes have left Essex as almost a poor relation to other counties in England a reputation which it definitely does not deserve! Essex is rich in history with over 14,000 listed buildings, the oldest Roman remains in Britain, a unique housing style known as weatherboarding (which was adopted in America and is now known as the New England Style), the oldest surviving wooden church in the world and the rumoured burial place of King Harold II.
There is a darker…
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