Leicester’s Unspoken Witch Trial

Never knew there was a big witch trial in Leicester. TLDR: a highly imaginative, attention seeking boy started pointing the finger and local nabobs hoping for political position exploited it.

Final result: nine women executed in the middle of the city, one dead in prison, fifteen accused (a situation on a scale with the far, far more famous Pendle and, indeed, Salem trials). King James I was passing through town, saw it was a load of nonsense (and this was a man who was gullible enough to write a book on spotting witches) and gave everyone a right bollocking. I’d have thought that a moment of important local history. And Ben Jonson- Ben bloody Jonson!- wrote a play about it.

So why isn’t it mentioned more in all the local history stuff? More to the point, where’s a plaque in commemoration to the victims?

I really can’t figure it out. Especially since my home city has been on a quest to sell its history to tourists ever since they dug up Richard III in a car park. There’s money to be made in old violent delusions, boutiques full of quartz, fairy statuettes and dreamcatchers to be built. I’ve seen as much when I visited modern day Salem:  overpriced tours, underpaid costume-wearing leaflet-flingers, plastic broomsticks and a lone worn-out memorial to the victims who died painfully shouting their innocence. I never saw anyone take a photo of the latter.

Hmm. Perhaps it’s in Leicester’s favour it’s forgotten the whole sordid affair. Let’s keep digging up monarchs.

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