“Old Pendle, Old Pendle, thou standest alone.
Twixt Burnley and Clitheroe, Whalley and Colne,
Where Hodder and Ribble’s fair waters do meet.
With Barley and Downham content at thy feet.
When witches do fly on a cold winters night,
we won’t tell a soul and we’ll bolt the door tight.
We’ll sit round the fire and keep ourselves warm,
until once again we can walk arm in arm”.
~”Old Pendle” traditional folksong by the Pendle folk.
In the heart of Lancashire sits the brooding and ethereal district of Pendle. An area heavily associated with Witches, witch trials, boggarts and ghosts. Plus haunted inns and the evil eyes that ward some local churches and their cemeteries. Pendle is a place few choose to explore after nightfall, when an eerie darkness falls over the hillside and cascades down upon the lonely villages beneath, and the locals bolt their doors and keep themselves snug in the warmth and safety of home.
Nestled at the foot of Pendle hill lays the village of Downham. A sleepy and romantic little place in the shade of the mighty Pendle Hill.
The next village up is that of Barley, and then up the hill from there is the infamous Newchurch-in-Pendle, Where both the Chattox and Demdike Witch clans are said to have lived, on the outskirts.
This weeks blog is a creative re-telling of a ghost story I encountered while visiting Pendle in 2021. The story I overheard was simple enough, that there is supposedly a ghost of a weeping woman that tries to cross the bridge of Downham village, but sadly, never can. Some speculate that this ghost is one of the Pendle Witches, possibly Alizon Device, the young woman who inadvertently triggered the trials, others claim her to be a boggart. Where the story below is of my own creation, I have ensured it keeps the qualities of the original local folklore.
As mentioned in previous blogs, the bridge in folklore (especially within Lancashire folklore) is a liminal place of magic where we find that many boggarts or ghosts either cannot cross, or that their pranks start at bridges and then cease at the next place where water meets land, and this belief is evident again in the following spine chilling local ghost story…
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