VIDEO: Pendle prepares to mark four hundredth anniversary of witch trials

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Actors from Blackpool Tower Dungeon descended at the foot of Pendle Hill to re-enact the story of the Pendle Witches for a forthcoming tour at the seaside destination telling the historical Lancashire tale.

The cast stepped back in time and got into the famed characters Demdike, Chattox and Device using Barley Village Hall as a mock court room to act out the most famous witch trials in English history.

The setting was appropriately atmospheric when the characters were unleashed onto the hill and while practising their scenes cast a dark shadow on the already wet and miserable day.

And local historian Simon Entwistle was on hand to re-tell the famous story which he says is on a par with the famous Whitechapel murders.

He said: “It is an intriguing story, and is definitely up there in the top 10 historical ones. King James I was on the throne and did not like the idea of any other human being having more power than him and decided to write a book “Demonology” issuing every magistrate in England with his book to look for witches.

“When the King heard about the trials in Lancaster he sent the lawyer Thomas Potts to record what the witches said in their defence.” The 10 men and women were later hanged at Lancaster Gaol after being found guilty of witchcraft and “selling their souls to the devil”.

Mr Entwistle added: “I’m surprised Spielberg hasn’t made a film about the Pendle Witches!”

General manager of the Blackpool Tower Dungeons Garry Blackadder who is putting on the tour which begins in September, said: “It is a 10 actor led show all based on real history documenting everything from the Vikings to the Smugglers to the Pendle Witches. It is an educational experience based on 1,000 years of history that is family-friendly scary fun.

“We do not make anything up but everything is given a bit of Merlin magic. The story starts with the Black Jester then the Plague before descending to the court room for the trials. Being in Lancashire we couldn’t miss out the Pendle Witches.”

And next Wednesday a BBC4 documentary The Pendle Witch Child tells the tale of Jennet Device of Malkin who testified against her family in court in naming 10 people as witches. The programme is presented by poet Simon Armitage and is broadcast at 9 p.m.




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