Things That Go Bump In The Night.
#1
Lancaster Castle is an imposing building, believed to have been founded in the 11th Century.  Records show that it was in use as a prison in 1196, and it has been used for this purpose until quite recently.  Lancaster Crown Court still sits in this venue today.

Over the centuries, hundreds of executions have taken place at Lancaster Castle, the most famous of these involved "The Pendle Witch Trials" in 1612, and the subsequent executions of a number of elderly women who were found guilty of witchcraft.

One explanation of the strange behaviour of these women suggested that they had eaten bread made from Rye which was contaminated with Ergot, a mind altering fungi found on wheat and rye.  There is no evidence to support this theory, which I imagine could have been postulated by an imaginative and enthusiastic undergraduate.

What is certain is that these women played on the myths surrounding witchcraft, earning a few pennies from ignorant neighbours who believed that their livelihoods depended on keeping these women sweet.

Until the Capital Punishment Act of 1868, all executions were held in public.  Crowds gathered early on execution days to claim the most advantageous positions, and brought with them their picnics.  As many as half a dozen convicted prisoners could be hanged in a morning, keeping the jeering crowds entertained.

My Wife and I went on a guided tour of the Castle in the mid nineteen-nineties.  The guide pointed out the condemned cell, stating that no light could penetrate the cell, and that the ghosts of executed prisons haunted it.  She asked for a volunteer to be locked in the cell, and I quite fancied a bit of excitement.

The guide was right about light not being able to penetrate into the cell, but I was quite happy to sit in total darkness on the wooden bed.  While I was voluntarily incarcerated, the guide told the other people in the group that everybody who was locked in this cell knocked on the door to be released.  

After several minutes, the guide expressed dismay at the length of time I had been in there.  My Wife told her:  "If anyone knocks to come out, it will be the bloody ghost!"  THE END.
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#2
Stephen,
I’m sorry the ghosts disappointed you, but I’m pretty sure you scared them all off. Even without an accordion.
“It’s all in your mind” is the most profound truism I know, followed by “Your mind is playing tricks on you.” I once lived in a house where very strange things happened, but it wouldn’t have bothered us if it hadn’t kept waking us up at night with loud noises.
Once again you prove why you’re the man to have in a war of any kind.
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#3
(23-06-2020, 10:58 AM)Stephen Hawkins Wrote: Lancaster Castle is an imposing building, believed to have been founded in the 11th Century.  Records show that it was in use as a prison in 1196, and it has been used for this purpose until quite recently.  Lancaster Crown Court still sits in this venue today.

Over the centuries, hundreds of executions have taken place at Lancaster Castle, the most famous of these involved "The Pendle Witch Trials" in 1612, and the subsequent executions of a number of elderly women who were found guilty of witchcraft.

One explanation of the strange behaviour of these women suggested that they had eaten bread made from Rye which was contaminated with Ergot, a mind altering fungi found on wheat and rye.  There is no evidence to support this theory, which I imagine could have been postulated by an imaginative and enthusiastic undergraduate.

What is certain is that these women played on the myths surrounding witchcraft, earning a few pennies from ignorant neighbours who believed that their livelihoods depended on keeping these women sweet.

Until the Capital Punishment Act of 1868, all executions were held in public.  Crowds gathered early on execution days to claim the most advantageous positions, and brought with them their picnics.  As many as half a dozen convicted prisoners could be hanged in a morning, keeping the jeering crowds entertained.

My Wife and I went on a guided tour of the Castle in the mid nineteen-nineties.  The guide pointed out the condemned cell, stating that no light could penetrate the cell, and that the ghosts of executed prisons haunted it.  She asked for a volunteer to be locked in the cell, and I quite fancied a bit of excitement.

The guide was right about light not being able to penetrate into the cell, but I was quite happy to sit in total darkness on the wooden bed.  While I was voluntarily incarcerated, the guide told the other people in the group that everybody who was locked in this cell knocked on the door to be released.  

After several minutes, the guide expressed dismay at the length of time I had been in there.  My Wife told her:  "If anyone knocks to come out, it will be the bloody ghost!"  THE END.

Stephen,

An interesting account from Merrie England. I asked them if they'd hang my first wife there, but they wanted the same amount of money she was going to take from my pension, and I couldn't guarantee a big enough paying audience to make it worthwhile. 

There was once a saying among those generations of Glaswegians old enough to remember public executions, to indicate that there were vast queues (or "lines" in the US) to enter any big event in the city. 

An example would have been :- "We went to the January sales in the city centre, but we just came home again, as there was a queue like an execution to get into every shop."

Public executions were very popular in their day. 

Found one here in Birmingham from 1742, when a Henry Birch was hanged for breaking into a house and stealing various items of clothing belonging to the occupier, one John Smith. Shame you couldn't even leave your front door unlocked in those days either in Bromwicham, as it was known in earlier days. Nobody dared wear a coat belonging to somebody else then, as the gallows could be freezing without it if you were caught. 

Here, in what the Anglo Saxons called "Wreodenhale", the poor people couldn't afford to attend such public executions, as Bromwicham is 9 miles away, and the roads were probably as dangerous as they are these days with thieves, vagabonds, and scoundrels, waiting for the unsuspecting traveller.

Seems nothing much has changed in Merrie England for over 1000 years, and we still haven't got the "hang" of how to deal with the wrongdoers. "Public Crucifixion by Media" seems to be the modern alternative, but the Anglo Saxons probably wouldn't have approved.

Various namesakes of mine have held the post of Sheriff of Nottingham over the centuries, but Robin Hood preceded them by a good few generations, so they must have had boring jobs, with only a handful of public executions a year to look forward to.
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#4
Hi Eddy,

I do not entirely dismiss the possibility of "ghosts", and I have seen some very strange and inexplicable things in my time.

One thing that I have found to be true is that "the dead won't hurt you ..... it's the living you have to watch." Perhaps I had that in mind when I entered that cell, though it is more likely that I was just in a playful mood.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

P.S. Perhaps the accordion would have attracted ghosts.

Hi John,

The position of "hangman" was usually offered to a man who had been condemned to death. He would be required to hang a certain number of men, after which his sentence of death was commuted to imprisonment.

Hanging in those days was a simple matter of strangulation by suspension from a rope, which provided the crowd with endless fun as the condemned man would kick and struggle in a macabre dance of death. It became fairly common practice for a family member to swing on the dying man's legs, thus breaking his neck and aiding his speedy transition from pain into oblivion.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#5
And for your listening and dance of death pleasure, here’s “Hangman’s Reel”, a Canadian tune (probably Métis.)
https://youtu.be/6Fs1vxvZYMI
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#6
Hi Eddy,

Not a bad little "ditty", which I feel sure would have filled the boring bits between hangings.

If you (or anyone else) wants to learn more about the Lancashire Witches & their subsequent trials and executions, you may be able to source a copy of "The Lancashire Witches" by Harrison Ainsworth. There are two ISBN numbers for this book, as it was published by E.J. Morten in Manchester (ISBN 0 85972 024 1) and John Sherratt & Son, Altrincham (ISBN 0 85427 047 7) Second hand copies will be available online.

I have owned my copy for at least forty years, and it is now a little frayed around the edges due to having been read on numerous occasions. The book could be best described as "atmospheric"

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#7
(25-06-2020, 11:00 AM)Stephen Hawkins Wrote: Hi Eddy,

Not a bad little "ditty", which I feel sure would have filled the boring bits between hangings.  

If you (or anyone else) wants to learn more about the Lancashire Witches & their subsequent trials and executions, you may be able to source a copy of "The Lancashire Witches" by Harrison Ainsworth.  There are two ISBN numbers for this book, as it was published by E.J. Morten in Manchester (ISBN 0 85972 024 1) and John Sherratt & Son, Altrincham (ISBN 0 85427 047 7)  Second hand copies will be available online.

I have owned my copy for at least forty years, and it is now a little frayed around the edges due to having been read on numerous occasions.  The book could be best described as "atmospheric"

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
Stephen,
Is this the one?
Ainsworth's last masterpiece, The Lancashire Witches proved a best-seller in its day and influenced many contemporary authors. The Lancashire Witches begins in the 16th century, in Lancashire, England. When a Cistercian monk, Borlace Alvetham, is falsely accused of witchcraft and condemned to death by his rival, Brother Paslew, he sells his soul to Satan and escapes. Years later, granted the powers of a warlock, he returns in the guise of Nicholas Demdike to witness Paslew's execution for treason. Dying, Paslew curses Demdike's offspring -- who become the titular "Lancashire Witches." The rest of the book set in the 17th century. Mother Demdike, a powerful witch, and her clan face rival witches, raise innocent young Alizon Devi as their own, and try to corrupt Alizon despite her innocent ways. Ultimately, the book becomes a struggle between Heaven and Hell, with Alizon's fate hanging in the balance.

I subscribe to an online reading service called “Scribd”, and there it was. Are there any accordions in it?

“Dreary was the prospect on all sides. Black moor, bleak fell, straggling forest, intersected with sullen streams as black as ink, with here and there a small tarn, or moss-pool, with waters of the same hue these constituted the chief features of the scene. “

Sounds like a nice place. No wonder you like living there.

Excerpt from: "The Lancashire Witches: A Romance of Pendle Forest" by William Harrison Ainsworth. Scribd.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Read this book on Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/362473736
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#8
FYI: It's now available on Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lancashire-Witc...923&sr=8-4

Serialised in the Sunday Times in 1848.
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#9
Hi Eddy,

Yes, that is the one. It is a beautifully written and well constructed book ...... a real page turner.

It may also interest you to know that there are three good Trout & Salmon rivers within a few miles of Lancaster Castle, one of which flows very close to the castle.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

Hi Glug,

I was aware of the book's origins, but my copy is a 1950's edition. Copies of the first print must be worth a tidy sum now, and I imagine that very few of them have survived to the present day.

Your input is very welcome.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#10
“It may also interest you to know that there are three good Trout & Salmon rivers within a few miles of Lancaster Castle, one of which flows very close to the castle.”
-Stephen

The first time I toured in England I had hoped to get to the Lake District and also see the River Lune. Maybe when all this pandemic abates. That will be awhile because people here are acting like it doesn’t exist, and the number of cases has roared back to March levels.
Thanks for the reminder. Something to hold.
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#11
Hi Eddy,

The Lune is a beautiful river, running through some splendid countryside. Other decent Trout & Salmon rivers nearby are the Wyre and the Ribble.

If you type in "Forest of Bowland Images" or "Trough of Bowland Images" it will give you more of a feel for the area. The Bowland area is dotted with "Chocolate Box" villages, many of which are ancient in origin.

Some people here are also largely disregarding medical advice about social distancing, and I fear the result may be a second spike in illness and death. Whichever country you are in, you are always going to get sociopaths with short attention spans.

Don't worry, the Lune has been here for millions of years, and it will still be here when you want to fish it.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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