16 August 2017

Wickham Skeith

This pretty mid-Suffolk village seems remote and off the beaten track.  In my trusty old Dictionary of English Place-Names' by A D Mills 'Wickham' usually means 'homestead' associated with an earlier Romano-British settlement, and the affix 'Skeith' is from the old Scandinavian word for 'race course' .. apparently.  What a lovely mixture: Romans and Vikings!

The village is thought to be at least a thousand years old...... but the sign is quite new, and very splendid it is...

Such a pretty mere, known locally as 'The Grimmer', it has been suggested that this was called 'The Grim Mere' in days gone by, but over time its name has been distorted, as often happens.   According to Pip Wright's "The Watery Places of Suffolk" ..... "..... here in 1645 The Witchfinder General 'swam' five unfortunate women before bringing them to trial at Bury St Edmunds".  I am reliably informed by Helen Barrell's website that I am related to The Witchfinder General by marriage, on my Mother's side, which some would say is rather ironic really 😊

Possibly the last "swimming" in the country as a test of witchcraft occurred at Wickham Skeith in 1825.  Isaac Stebbings, a pedlar aged about 67, was accused of black magic and driving two people (a thatcher's wife and a farmer) insane. He was immersed in 'The Grimmer' and floated three times - a positive indication of guilt. A second trial was planned for the following week, but the clergyman and churchwardens intervened and kept people away from the Grimmer.


Blogger Sage said...

such a horrid story for such a pretty place. Thanks for putting your pics on.

30 August 2017 at 00:05:00 BST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad people are more civilized today and only believe in internet trolls.. Knowledge of history is important, you do a great job with informations like this one Cindy!

xxx Arne

2 November 2017 at 09:21:00 GMT


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