“The Witch is Escaping from her Grave! Quick, get a Boulder!”
Now, whilst these might not be the exact words spoken on that fateful day in 1705 when Meg Shelton, the Fylde Witch, escaped from her grave for the SECOND time, someone must have said something like it.
Meg Shelton, aka the Fylde Hag, aka the Woodplumpton Witch died in 1705 when she was crushed between barrel and a wall. She was buried in the churchyard of St Anne’s Church in the Lancashire village of Woodplumpton.
As Meg was renowned for having the ability to change shape at will, escaping from a grave might not have been too taxing a problem for her. Perhaps she changed into a worm and wriggled out?
She was duly reburied and…..yes…….our Meg escaped again.
The solution for her THIRD burial was to dig a deep and very narrow shaft, put her in it headfirst and seal it off with a large boulder. The worthy villagers reckoned that if she started digging when she was headfirst in her grave, then she’d go deeper and deeper.
Meg’s grave is Close to the church.
(I didn’t know that witches were buried in churchyards, but hey! what do I know? I’m just beginning my research. I certainly live in the right county as Lancashire is famous for its witches.)
Visitors to the churchyard often leave flowers on her grave:
I’d like to take some flowers next time I visit as I feel very sorry for this poor woman who probably just said the wrong thing to the wrong person……..unless of course she really WAS a witch.
There are many stories about her:
She transformed a jug into a goose to steal milk.
She frequently crossed the sky on a broomstick.
She was buried by moonlight .
An exorcism was performed by the local priest over her grave.
She had a strange relationship with the local landowner Lord Cottam who let her live rent free for life in cottage (Cuckoo Cottage) on his estate . Blackmail? Black Arts? Surrogate motherhood as his wife was infertile? All these explanations have been suggested.
Oh, and she made a lot of cattle lame.
For more stories about Meg the this website is well worth visiting:
The Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian: The Good Witch Guide
And if you want to read actual(!) eyewitness accounts of Her Spooky Spookiness from present day visitors to her grave, visit this BBC website.
BBC – Lancashire – Spooky – The Woodplumpton Witch
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, there is a set of stocks outside the church. It wasn’t a good idea to misbehave in Woodplumpton ..then…or now.
I do hope that miscreants weren’t fastened into the footholes to be pelted by good folk on their way to church!
The stone steps behind are called a “mounting stone” – nothing to do with the stocks, which was my original deduction.
The steps are for those coming to church on horseback to mount and dismount in an elegant way.
This cottage is right next door to the churchyard. I see by the date 1702 that it was built when Meg was still living.
One of my blogging friends Leah at traveltastecreate.wordpress.com wanted more information on our Fylde hag.
Why not pop over to her blog and see where she is now on her worldwide travels.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Leah! Hope everyone has. I enjoyed writing it anyway.
For my previous post on Woodplumpton Churchyard please click here
Joanne Sisco · 21 March 2017 at 01:05
An interesting sliver of history. Arkenaten said it perfectly ” ”Thems was just unfortunate women.” Poor Megs 🙁
HMB · 21 March 2017 at 07:09
bushboy · 20 March 2017 at 02:13
Great story and photos
Amy · 19 March 2017 at 14:23
What a story, Helen. Her grave is Close to the church, how odd…
Enjoyed these beautiful photos! 🙂
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 14:26
Thanks Amy. I’m going to some more witch-hunting soon
Amy · 19 March 2017 at 14:30
Looking forward to it. 🙂
Untraveled Routes · 19 March 2017 at 12:55
I got goosebumps while reading the story and imagining it it’s a great story and pictures make it perfect!!
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 13:29
Thank you. Much as I enjoy travelling I’m always on the look out for interesting things locally.
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 17:31
Thank you. It must have been very scarey for all concerned in the Churchyard
Arkenaten · 19 March 2017 at 11:04
Granny Weatherwax – of Terry Pratchett fame, stated emphatically in one novel ( which one escapes me for the moment) that no real witch was ever burned at the stake or killed by any other means at the hands of others.
To paraphrase: ”Thems was just unfortunate women.”
Another lovely post.
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 13:21
I love the name Granny Weatherwax. Sounds like an old villager in a Barbour wax jacket. There’s a few of them like that in our village. Your comments are so entertaining. Thank you .
Leah · 19 March 2017 at 01:23
I certainly did enjoy this look into poor Meg’s misfortune, Helen. Reading that she was buried in the churchyard took m aback!
I never did manage to cover all of the spots along the Lancaster Witches Walk last year, but I found the stories of the Lancaster/Pendle witches intriguing. Maybe I’ll be able to pick up my explorations on a future trip. I hope you don’t mind if I include a link to my mention of the Pendle Witches.
I hope you continue telling these stories. Very interesting stuff, indeed!
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 13:27
There’s some lovely walks around Pendle. Lancashire has so many scenic areas. People in Scotland where I come from used to think it was all mill chimneys. I’m so pleased that you like it around here. I recall posts you did about the Silverdale area. Must find them again.
Delighted for you to include my link in a post.
da AL · 19 March 2017 at 00:39
well done – I agree with you that she surely didn’t deserve it
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 08:11
Thanks for visiting.
Terri Webster Schrandt · 18 March 2017 at 22:37
Hi Helen, thanks for finding me through Marsha! I’m glad to have found you as well, and just subscribed to your blog. Your photos are stunning and I like how you throw in the story behind the photo(s) as well. I read your about page and how you describe yourself as a photophile! I just came back from a walk with my dog, with, of course, my camera around my neck! Got some great macro shots of some beautiful spring blossoms. Nice to make your acquaintance 🙂
HMB · 19 March 2017 at 15:53
Nice to meet you too, fellow photophile. Looking forward tom seeing more of your work.
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