The burning of Witchcraft Bottom


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A large number of the Thursday conservation group set about cleaning up Witchcraft Bottom, part of the original Ashridge Park. The Trust had thinned out large numbers of secondary trees and left them to dry out over the years – they were now ready for burning. This was to be no mean bonfire – it was a beacon. Like ants moving their prey, volunteers could be seen hauling large timbers to be consumed by the fire.

Witchcraft Bottom was originally the main route running south from Ivinghoe common and Ringshall, before the present roads were built in the 1800’s, and it was a hamlet until the late 1800’s.

A Rosina Jane Massey who lived there in the 1850’s was reported to be a dipsomaniac and to have strange powers. On one occasion she went out collecting wood chips and when rebuked by the woodmen, she cast a spell on them so that their axes remained fast in the trees until she was able to help herself to the wood chips. However, the place name of Witchcraft Bottom is ancient and pre-dates this folk tale.

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