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Nestling on the Lancashire side of the Pennine Hills is Pendleton, a place with a sinister history.
In 1603, on the death of Elizabeth I, England and Scotland became the United Kingdom under James I (son of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots). A strict Presbyterian, he frowned upon supersitition of all kinds, particularly witchcraft
Previously, women with mental or physical handicaps were suspected of being witches, but they were not persecuted because some could actually perform healing. But King James believed that they indulged in Satanism, and was determined to stamp it out. His decision was to set off a disastrous chain of events for the so-called Pendle Witches - reminiscent of what was to happen much later in Salem, Mass.
One day a beggar came to Alizon Device's door, trying to sell pins. She refused to buy any, and when the poor man suddenly collapsed and died (presumably from a stroke), his son accused Alizon of killing him by witchcraft. Roger Nowell, a local magistrate, investigated this and other strange happenings in the town. He already knew that there was a long-running feud going on between the Devices and other families, particularly the Demdikes, and following a tip-off from a girl called Jennet, a relative of Alizon's, he discovered human bones and small clay models at the Demdikes' home. Jennet further alleged that twenty of the town's witches had held a meeting in this house a few days before, to finalise plans for blowing up Lancaster Castle and rescuing some of their friends imprisoned there.
Women of several families were arrested and tried on charges of conspiracy, sorcery and ritual murder, and again it was Jennet Device who gave testimony that nobody bothered to have corroborated. She was clearly out to get revenge on the enemies of her clan, but must also have borne a personal grudge against her own mother, Elizabeth, because she also accused her of being a Devil worshipper. When Elizabeth broke down and confessed, the judge was not concerned that she could have done so out of shock and grief. His sole purpose was to carry out the King's policy. After a trial lasting only three days, he sentenced every prisoner to be hanged.
If Jennet Device did commit perjury, she didn't escape retribution. Over twenty years later, she too was jailed for witchcraft.
I'LL NOW TRY TO MAKE AMENDS FOR THAT MISERABLE TALE BY GIVING YOU AN EASY RECIPE FOR ENOUGH TRADITIONAL LANCASHIRE HOTPOT TO SERVE FOUR TO SIX PEOPLE
One and a half pounds of best neck of lamb
Two lambs' kidneys (or eight shelled oysters)
One and a half pounds of potatoes
Half a pound of onions
Salt and pepper
A quarter pint of stock or water
One ounce of melted butter
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