Sunday, March 31, 2019

Hatfield Broad Oak from Takeley walk - Remembering a European Genocide in Hellman's Cross

This picture college is from a lovely sunny and warm walk last month in Essex near Bishop Stortford.

Only 8.75 miles in length and 36 minutes from Newham by car.

Check "Go4Walk" website here (error on website site that suggests Essex is in Lincolnshire wolds - it is not!)

Quiet, pretty, gentile rolling countryside amongst chocolate box ancient villages. We hardly saw a soul during the walk.

We stopped for lunch at Hellman's Cross, which is now a peaceful rural hamlet but at this spot in  1683, local villager Elizabeth Abbot, was burnt to death as a witch.

We stopped off here on another walk in 2011. I can't find on the internet more information about Elizabeth Abbot but I note this report that :-

"From 1484 until around 1750 some 200,000 witches were tortured, burnt or hanged in Western Europe. Most supposed witches were usually old women, and invariably poor. Any who were unfortunate enough to be ‘crone-like’, snaggle-toothed, sunken cheeked and having a hairy lip were assumed to possess the ‘Evil Eye’ ! 

If they also had a cat this was taken a proof, as witches always had a ‘familiar’, the cat being the most common.

Many unfortunate women were condemned on this sort of evidence and hanged after undergoing appalling torture. The ‘pilnie-winks’ (thumb screws) and iron ‘caspie-claws’ (a form of leg irons heated over a brazier) usually got a confession from the supposed witch."

A shameful statistic in our near history which we should remember.

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