A Book of Sussex Witch Legends

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An introduction to Sussex Witch Legends

Some villages have witch legends – but most do not. In East Sussex, there are at least 13 places which have them, and in West Sussex nearly 50. Some of these are fairly typical of the kinds of witch legends found all over Britain, such as that of Old Mother Venus of Laughton, who was said to become a hare, or Jenny Saker of Goring who changed into a big black dog. There was Dame Prettylegs of Albourne who was reputed to immobilize wagons and teams, or Witch Killick of Crowborough who ill-wished a neighbour to fall sick. There are some which are not so common, such as one about Mrs. Kitchener of Loxwood who sat on a hurdle and rode it like a horse; and of the landlord of The Fox Inn, at Fox Hill, who was shot in the legs when he was a hare, and Nanny Smart of Hurstpierpoint who, old though she was, could not die until she had passed her witchcraft secrets to someone else. There was Butter Ede of Petworth who always had a big black cat with her, and Old Martha of Plumpton who ran backwards brandishing long knives; or Dame Garson of Duddleswell, who was chased by hounds when she was a hare, and leapt in through the window of her cottage, calling: “Ah, my boys, you ain’t got me yet!”

Eldritch Tales of Witchcraft

But the fear of witchcraft seems to have lingered long in some of the remote parts of Sussex, even to within living memory – according to the sentiments of various Sussex writers – and so there are tales here which are even more eldritch, such as one about a witch-hare at Slinfold that was shot with a silver bullet, and another at Stedham who was torn to pieces by fox-hounds; or of the notorious Wigperry witch, who came back as a ghost and haunted Bedlam pond, sitting on the surface of the water, holding a spindle.

Explore Sussex Folklore

This meticulously researched book not only examines Sussex's witch legends but also offers a deeper understanding of the shires and beyond. Unveiling ancient counter-spells employed against the dark arts, the narrative also delves into Sussex's folklore of fairies and dragons.

The book has been developed from the earlier British Witch Legends of Sussex to become a very much revised, vastly expanded, and far more comprehensive volume, with a better folkloristic perspective on the subject, and it also has tales and witch lore from many more villages, including over twenty in Sussex. "A Book of Sussex Witch Legends" written by author Shaun Cooper invites readers to explore the historical and mystical facets of Sussex, ensuring an immersive experience into the captivating world of witchcraft and folklore.

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Shaun Cooper








210 X 148mm


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