Wednesday, 22 February 2012


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 In the Essex village of Felsted, stands a famous public school and a few relics of it`s ancient past.

One famous historic icon is Boote House, a rather grand old timber framed dwelling built by a local builder named George Boote. The building stands opposite the church and guildhall and is now a restaurant.
George apparently was so pleased with his workmanship that he carved his own name on the building which reads: `George Boote made this house:1596`.

There are a few other adornments attached to the building and an unusual carving of a lady - naked save for a chastity belt or girdle that surrounds her. Even odder is that this lady has cloven feet.

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An unlikely legend says that the lady may have been George`s wife, unfortunately history spares us further details. But in truth, the effigy could well have been Felsted`s only convicted witch who was tried and found guilty barely three years earlier. It would hardly have been prudent of George in this sensitive time to have placed a naked effigy with cloven feet of his wife.

Witchcraft in the 16th and 17th century was a major social and political issue to the largely ignorant peasant population, and during this period many innocent women were sent to the gallows because of accusations made by others that attested to their presumed guilt.

Referring to records of this period it is shown that in 1593 Alice Alberte of Felsted was tried at the Essex Assize in Chelmsford of this very crime.

The official record reads:  `Indictment of Alice Alberte of Felsted spinster, 25 July 34 Eliz., there bewitched twenty-two sheep worth £5, a cow worth 40s., a calf worth 8s. and a pig worth 8s., belonging to Roger Wood. Pleads not guilty; (found) guilty; judgement according to the form of the Statute`. Her punishment was to be hung.
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Could this effigy have been placed as a warning to witches by George Boote, and if so, could his home have been in or near the site where such nefarious crimes were alleged to have occurred three years earlier?

Until recently I would have believed all of this to be merely a sad reflection of mankind`s superstitious past, until the day I visited Felsted to film inside the nearby church with further scenes shot from the road opposite George`s old home.

Here is a video extract from that visit, and you will clearly hear a `demonic` sounding voice speaking with clarity in a tongue not known to modern man.

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