Creepy Small Villages

maximus otter

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Here's a replacement illustration of blacksmith Francis Neale's bill for constructing the Bierton gibbet ...

SOURCE:

William Andrews, Bygone Punishments, p. 34. Reproduction of original by Outlook Verlag, Frankfurt (2019).
Accessible via Google Books:

https://books.google.com/books?id=3xayDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=gibbet+bierton+blacksmith&source=bl&ots=DC7FGuWKKP&sig=ACfU3U2mTKl2ZtRk8Mn4KK4n_B3397SCFQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi5g8Kb2cDoAhXPmq0KHbWsBHAQ6AEwBHoECBMQAQ#v=onepage&q=gibbet bierton blacksmith&f=false
£6/5/7d seems like a lot of money for an uncomplicated design like a gibbet.

UK Inflation Calculator suggests that £1 in 1775 would be the equivalent of £162.61p today. That would make the cost of the gibbet roughly £1,020 in 2020 money.

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Bad Bungle

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Bad Bungle

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At the risk of boring everyone with yet another local tale of murder most horrid, execution and hanging in chains 'til nowt left but happy maggot memories, I've found by accident a case that was quite a cause célèbre in its day:
Ruth Osborne was the last woman ever to be killed for witchcraft in England, and Thomas Colley the last man to be executed for carrying out such a crime.

In 1745 in Gubblecut (Gubblecote), a hamlet near Tring in Herts, an elderly woman named Ruth Osborne begged some buttermilk from local farmer John Butterworth. He sent her away, angrily claiming that ‘he had not enough for his hogs’, let alone for the likes of her. Words were exchanged. A few months later some of Butterworth’s calves died and by 1751 the farm had failed and he was running the Black Horse alehouse in Gubblecote. He was also suffering regular epileptic fits and suspected he was under a curse. Thomas Colley, a chimney sweep from Tring (same as Corbett mentioned in an earlier post), and a regular at the Black Horse, suggested that Butterworth consult a "cunning-woman" from Northhampton to get to the truth of the matter. Without naming any names, she identified ‘two of his neighbours, a man and a woman’ as the source of his bewitchment. This verdict was sufficient confirmation for Butterworth and his patrons to conclude that Ruth Osborne was a witch and her husband John a Vizard: further damning evidence was that they were both old and poor and probably Jacobites. This led Thomas Colley to agitate for the Osbornes to be tried by means of witch-swimming (ducking).
The last official execution of a witch in England occurred in 1682, the last conviction for witchcraft took place in 1712, and the law against witchcraft was eventually repealed in 1736. Although there were still some sympathetic local Magistrates , righteous retribution would have to be done obliquely. The Town criers in the nearby towns of Winslow, Leighton Buzzard, and Hemel Hempstead were given four pence and a sheet to give notice "on Monday next [22 April 1751] a man and a woman are to be publickly ducked at Tring, in this county, for their wicked crimes".
Upon learning the identity of the intended pair, Matthew Barton, Tring’s Overseer of the Poor, (who knew the Osbornes), lodged them in the town’s workhouse for protection. Fearing their location was compromised, the Workhouse Master Jonathan Tomkins, ‘believing both the man and his wife to be very honest people’, took the Osbornes to the vestry of the church of St Peter and St Paul in Tring (the one with the stupid waterspout), presumably hoping the old concept of sanctuary might save them from harm. It did not.
The appointed day of 22 April came, and a mob, some five thousand strong, advanced on the workhouse. Having broken into the building (ie tore the wall down), ransacked it and found no sign of the Osbornes, they threatened to burn it (and Tring) to the ground unless the couple were handed over. Tomkins reluctantly gave in and the Osbornes were marched from the church in Tring back to Gubblecote. It’s a distance of about three miles, down Tring’s High Street, along what are now Brook Street and Wingrave Road, past farmland and cottages and they were held at the Black Horse. With no suitable ducking pond in the vicinity (Tring reservoirs not yet constructed), they were taken later that afternoon to Marlston-Mere (the pond at Marlston-Green) , between Gubblecote and the next village, Long Marston.
Here, under Thomas Colley’s supervision, the couple were partially stripped and had their thumbs tied to their toes, cross-wise. They were wrapped in sheets and each was tied with a rope before being dragged through the pond. The procedure of witch-swimming was simple: a Priest blesses an expanse of water and if the suspect floated they were a witch (ie the water rejected them); If they sank and drowned, then there was some comfort in knowing that they were innocent. Initially Ruth sank because the water was less than 3 feet deep so she was turned over several times and pushed under the water with a stick. Both she and her husband were dragged several times in turn, but having ‘been suffocated with Water and Mud’, Ruth was unconscious by the time she was pulled back to the bank. She was brought to the Half Moon pub with her husband in another nearby village, Wilstone, where she was laid out on a bed by the landlord. Meanwhile outside the pub Colley was collecting money from the mob ‘for the enjoyment the ducking had provided’. Ruth died shortly after but her husband John survived .
In the weeks afterwards, the news of the events at Tring and Gubbelcote eventually making the London newspapers. Thomas Colley was one of a small number of the mob to be arrested (most fled across County lines), drawing most of the law’s attention as the ringleader and as the man who had collected money from the crowd afterwards. He was tried for murder at Hertford assizes on 30 July 1751, was found guilty and condemned to hang. The sentence was carried out on 24 August 1751 at Gubblecote Cross, the crossroads of the hamlet, with Colley and the hangman escorted by 108 men belonging to the Regiment of Horse Blue in case of crowd trouble. His corpse was gibbeted (hung in chains) there for months afterwards until it fell apart.
Crowds had gathered but kept themselves back - according to one witness: 'they would not be spectators of his death; yet many thousands stood at a distance to see him go, grumbling and muttering that it was a hard case to hang a man for destroying an old wicked woman that had done so much harm by her witchcraft.'
There are several versions of the story (look up Ruth Osborne) with inevitable embellishment and old place name changes but I've largely stuck to a reprint of the Court proceedings (ECCO Law and Reference : Thomas Colley)

Ducking_of_John_Osborne A.jpg Marlston Mere.jpg

There is almost predictably a ghost story associated with Thomas Colley (but none with Osborne), and it was said that a large black dog came to haunt the lanes around Gubbecote. Tring Brewery brew a "strong ruby ale" called "Colley's Dog"
A project for after lockdown is lifted.
 
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Bad Bungle

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Sounds like Colley deserved to be cursed!
Colley was the local hero, a martyr who would have been executed a week earlier if a crowd hadn't prevented his transfer from St Albans prison to the gallows.
Thank goodness you can't plant an unsubstantiated rumour in the media to whip up a mob demanding justice without the inconvenience of a trial or evidence nowadays.
 

Coypu

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Driving through Waddesdon always gives me the creeps. The Five Arrows hotel looks odd to me.:thought:
 

BlackPeter

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There's a village near the nuclear power station at Calder Hall called Beckermet which I have always found disturbing for unknown reasons (disturbing in a sort of Stephen King way!)
 

Krepostnoi

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There's a village near the nuclear power station at Calder Hall called Beckermet which I have always found disturbing for unknown reasons (disturbing in a sort of Stephen King way!)
There's something a little odd about that entire West coast of Cumbria. Silloth even sounds like something out of Lovecraft.
 

Dick Turpin

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Does creepy country lanes count…?

There is one near to where I live that I ventured down, when I first moved into this house, (exploring, as you do) never again. It started off alright but the deeper I walked through that lane, a feeling of nastiness was felt, like I wasn’t wanted there – I had the odd feeling that I was about to get jumped.

It’s about ¾ of a mile long, very narrow and what with the trees hanging over on each side of the lane, it’s dark and very creepy.

My daughter who attends the local school, told me there is a tradition on Halloween nights, in which the local kids dare each other to run through the full length of the lane after dark.

Most turn back apparently.

The last time I checked, the google street map car only went in so far before (presumably) reversing back out again.

Anyway, I only found today that the lane is called “Devils Road”

I’ll see if I can find anything online about local traditions etc.
 

Cochise

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Driving through Waddesdon always gives me the creeps. The Five Arrows hotel looks odd to me.:thought:
Is that near Brill and Quainton? Yes I find that area a bit odd myself.
 

Coypu

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Is that near Brill and Quainton? Yes I find that area a bit odd myself.
Yupp that's the one, The Long Dog pub looked a bit weird as well before it got renovated and painted white.
 

IbisNibs

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Driving through Waddesdon always gives me the creeps. The Five Arrows hotel looks odd to me.:thought:
Being American, I don't understand what you find disturbing about Waddesdon, on the internet it all looks charming. The Five Arrows wasn't built in very graceful proportions (too narrow), but that's not a deal breaker for me--it just looks quaint. The inside though! That's a different story. It's far too beige.
 

PeteS

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There's something a little odd about that entire West coast of Cumbria. Silloth even sounds like something out of Lovecraft.
Agreed- an occasional trip up there through Aspatria and the like left me cold.
 

Fanari_Lloyd

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Some little villages can have odd vibes, yes. I was born in a village, but then every other village thought the next village along was ‘odd’ o_O

There are some that do have a strange atmosphere though. One about 5 miles away, which is off the main road, so I’d never gone there before, does feel peculiar, although it’s pretty enough. (Bourton, near Shrivenham, Wiltshire)

Apparently, there is a monolith in the middle of the village supposedly erected by the Danes to commemorate a battle they won against the Saxons. Maybe that accounts for the strange, rather oppressive atmosphere.
 

BlackPeter

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One odd little village I would like to find again- about seven years ago I was out with my partner in the grounds of a historic house selling books at a fair (her trade in those days), I was really only along to help carry books! anyway at lunch time I said I would go and see if there was a shop in one of the local villages where I could buy some food, so I set off in the car down the local lanes and almost opposite the entrance to the hall was a lane which I followed that lead to a small village, right from the start I felt there was something odd about the place, it was a very hot sunny day and I stopped to have a look round. There was no shop but a very rustic looking ( almost fairy tale looking) pub called 'The Green Dragon' I tried the door but it was shut so I wandered around the village which was totally silent with lots of thatched, half-timbered buildings it was all very pleasant on the surface but after a few minutes I started to find the silence and lack of people increasingly eerie and disturbing so I left the village rather hurriedly -I remember I discovered it was a dead end so I had to turn round and drive back the same way I had come in. I found a shop in another village got something to eat and returned to my partner, who I told about it and said how odd and disturbing it had seemed to me and she said lets go for a drink at the pub after we finish tonight so we did except I was completely unable to find the village which was not on the lane I thought it was - which was also not a dead end! Been back to the area several times never been able to find it!
 

maximus otter

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...a very rustic looking ( almost fairy tale looking) pub called 'The Green Dragon'

...I was completely unable to find the village which was not on the lane I thought it was - which was also not a dead end! Been back to the area several times never been able to find it!
There are only 49 pubs called “The Green Dragon in the UK. It shouldn’t be that hard to find, as you can narrow down the search area considerably.

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Dick Turpin

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I’m too scared to go there, I could end up in a wicker man:oops:
Tempest, like you I was born and raised in London, and moved out to Essex some years ago (to Braintree).

What I have noticed about Essex, is that people from Chelmsford, have said to me that the people who live in Braintree are all thick inbreeds, and in turn the people of Braintree have told me that anyone living in the surrounding villages of Braintree, are all thick inbreeds.

In the village I live in now, the locals think that anyone living in the smaller surrounding villages are thick inbreeds.

This makes me wonder if this is an Essex thing, or does this mind set apply to all counties of the UK.

A few years back I was on a late night train bound for Colchester, and a very drunk young woman was being openly hostile to any commuter living further afield than Shenfield. She even asked one guy (who said he lived in Marks Tey) if he’s ever fuc*ed his grandmother up the @rse :wide: (seriously) sorry - her words not mine, who even thinks like that for Christ’s sake ..?

A bit off topic I know, but has anyone else from other parts of the UK noticed this mentality ????
 

Analogue Boy

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Tried that, there isn't one anywhere in the area, which means either I misread the name or?!
What part of the world is this? Have you considered it could be a definct pub converted to a Chinese restaurant? There’s an Indian Restaurant around here in an old thatched building. Also... pubs are closing daily. Could be gone for good.
 
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