Countdown to Halloween: The mysterious tale of Bakewell’s ‘witches’

With many mini monsters preparing to burst forth on to our streets to do their evil bidding next week it’s perhaps timely to look back on one of our area’s most famous ghoulish historic tales - that of the Witches of Bakewell.

Our supernatural tale begins with a dishevelled Scotsman being found in his night clothes in a London warehouse in 1607. The bewildered man was immediately accused of robbery.

However, in his defence, the man told a very curious and seemingly far fetched tale.

He claimed to have been in a Bakewell boarding house run by a Mrs Stafford and a woman who was said to be either a close friend or sister the previous night and said he had arrived in London as a result of sorcery.While lying in bed he was disturbed by a bright light shining up through the floorboards of his room. Intrigued, he peered through the cracks to see Mrs Stafford and her partner, chanting: “Over thick, over thin, Now Devil to the cellar in London.”

The two women vanished. Foolishly he repeated the words to himself, but with one change: “Through thick, through thin, Now Devil to the cellar in London.”

This different wording meant instead of a nice gentle vanishing he was sent flying at great speed until he came to a stop in the London cellar. Regaining consciousness he saw the two women laden with parcels of silk and muslin which they had gained through nefarious purposes. They gave him a drink that had been drugged and he fell into a deep sleep.

When he awoke he was staring up at the angry men who had found him.

The judge, believing the story, had the guesthouse searched where they found the Scotsman’s clothes which he had described in detail. Ms Stafford and her partner were found guilty of being witches and were put to death soon after. Was it a tall tale or was one of our little Peak District towns a home to real witches? Happy Halloween.