The Witches of Belvoir Castle ~ A Fascinating Historical Account
A fascinating tale which takes us back to Belvoir Castle, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, and the early 1600s
You’ve no doubt heard of Witch Hunts . . . well here’s one
If you’ve no real interest in history you’ve surely seen films like The Witchfinder General and are aware of the Witch Hunts and supposed burning of 1,000s of women as witches.
Here in Lincolnshire we’re going back to the very early 1600s and the fate of 3 women.
The image on the left is from a pamphlet printed in 1619 which told the story of Joan Flower and her 2 daughters.
The usual charge of Witchcraft was tragically levelled at local healers whose potions and herbal mixtures were for good not bad., this case however looks a bit different.
The Earl of Rutland employed Joan Flower and her 2 daughters Margaret and Philippa in 1617. It seems things didn’t go smoothly and the Countess of Rutland soon took issue with them.
One daughter was accused of theft of household items and the other of lurid behaviour with her lover.
The mother was sent home from the castle and it is said that in revenge she put a curse on Henry the oldest son and heir apparent.
Not long after their dismissal Henry died and the other children fell ill.
This lead to all 3 being arrested and taken to Lincoln Gaol !
In Lincoln Prison the mother protested her innocence and the bizarre story takes another improbable twist, she declared that if she was a witch and ate bread and butter she would choke on it.
This test was agreed to, the bread and butter was brought in and Joan took a bite . . .
She then choked to death !
As she was now taken to be guilty her daughters were given little choice other than confession.
As part of their ‘confession’ they also named 3 other women, shown in the 1619 image above. They too confessed but I’m not sure of their fate.
The fate of the Witches of Belvoir Castle was sealed though, the mother already having died in Lincoln Prison the 2 daughters were subsequently hanged there !
The whole thing looks sure to be a put up job. The women all had ‘familiars’ which were things witches we sure to have, familiars being pets such as cats and dogs etc
I wonder whether the mother died whilst being ‘interviewed’ perhaps ?!
Whether you believe in witches or curses is personal choice, one thing is sure though, the Earl and Countess of Rutland firmly believed their son died at the hands of witches - so much so they had in inscribed on their family monument in Bottesford church !
Thoughts, opinions and more information on this is very much welcomed