The Witch Hunt


This morning Jackie drove us to Burley in search of witches.

The landscape across the moors early in the morning offered misty slate layers  in the distance.

On the approach to Burley, the leaves on the trees were turning the rich colours of autumn


The car park in the village was largely occupied by ponies who had generously left a few spaces for the traffic.

Pony and child in pushchair

One little lad in a buggy  wasn’t all that sure about the attention he received.

We soon realised that we had missed the real Halloween event which had been on Saturday, two days ago. Our witch hunt was therefore fruitless. We had to settle for carved pumpkins, including the winning mouse, and ghastly ghouls sporting sheets.

Some sorceresses had abandoned their hats in the form of traffic cones that had found their way into the landscape. In the first of these two photographs the bicycle attached to the railing was probably left by a witch as she switched to here broom. In the second, Jackie converses with a garrulous goose.

Its companion practiced its contortions and they both enjoyed a good preen.

A communal field on the edge of the village contained examples of agricultural machinery and artifacts of a bygone age;

Shepherd's hut

a shepherd’s hut;

and the parked up Burley Wagon Rides conveyance with a nearby pitched tent.

We had been told that a herd of red deer could often be seen on the far side of the field. Like the witches, the deer had flown, but the evidence of their presence was shown by the pruned lower branches of the trees they had pruned.

Trees and bonfire

A bonfire, surprisingly swarming with wasps, was being prepared for the next celebration event, namely fireworks night on the 5th of November, commemorating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Foiled by betrayal, this was a Catholic attempt to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I. Instead, Guido (Guy) Fawkes was hung, drawn, and quartered. (See  LordBeariofBow’s comment below). This involves taking down a hanged victim before death, cutting out living vital organs and quartering the body. It was a common punishment for treachery in those days.

Burley Manor Hotel

Beyond the field could be seen Burley Manor Hotel. The original manor house dated from the twelfth century. In 1852 the building was demolished to make way for this Victorian replacement which has been an hotel since 1935.

Dew on leaf

Dew continued to bejewel grass and fallen leaves when we left to return home.

Charles Lane

Charles Lane, Bagnum is just one of the sun-streaked  roads that rushes towards us as we travel through the forest.

Hugh Pym and witch shadow

It wasn’t until, watching the 1 p.m. BBC News, I looked beyond Hugh Pym, that I realised the destination of at least one of the Burley witches.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lovely liver and bacon casserole which was far more tender and tasty than that I had eaten yesterday at Otter Nurseries. It came with new potatoes and perfect Brussels sprouts and runner beans. Lemon and lime merangue pie was to follow. I finished the madiran.



  1. On the angle shown, that bonfire is very close to a tree with dead branches. The revellers may get more than they bargained for when they light it. England doesn’t seem such a civilised society when we reflect on the forms of punishment metered out in bygone days. At least the French guillotine was swift! Beautiful pictures as always . . .

  2. I do believe you meant ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’ Derrick, please tell me it was a ‘typo’ 🙄
    ” Guido (Guy) Fawkes was hung, drawn, and quartered.”
    By the way I do believe that Mr Fawkes cheated by jumping off the ladder, when the noose was placed aroud his neck, breaking said neck, thereby spoiling the entertainment which was to, and did, follow but unfortunately there were no screams of agony and pain for the amusement of the audience assembled.
    We English were/are a blood thirsty lot! 👿

      1. I was born within the sound of the bells in an attic in Poplar which Mr Goering got one or two of his boys to obliterate. The Bells apparently could be heard quite clearly although I wasn’t aware of them at the time. 🙂
        The names a fun name having a shot at a Pommy chum who for some reason gave himself a knighthood; naturally being the superior I elevated myself to the peerage; a full explanation is somewhere on my pages. XD
        Shortly after I was born we returned home to Essex.

  3. Beautiful photos, as always, Derrick. Thank you for the tour.
    I only listen to the BBC news on the radio, but I’ll pay more attention, now that I know at least one journalist has an alter ego. 😉

  4. That witch’s shadow on the steeple was quite a good eye, Derrick!
    I liked the geese and the lane with a tunnel made of trees bending and the gentle sort of hazy “impressionism” upon some of the photos. Beautiful post!!

  5. Perfect post for Halloween with just the right amount of scary tales and lovely photos of pumpkins and shadowy witches!
    I swooned at your words, too, especially: “Dew continued to bejewel grass and fallen leaves when we left to return home.”

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