On a foggy November day in 1589, when one of the five daughters of Robert and Elizabeth Throckmorton suddenly and mysteriously fell sick, no one in the isolated Huntingdonshire village of Warboys could have predicted the terrifying events that would follow. Or envisaged that four years later, in April 1593, the Throckmortons' near neighbours Alice, Agnes and John Samuel, would be dragged before a country court on charges of sorcery, enchantment and murder. There is no more dramatic story in the annals of English witchcraft than that of the witches of Warboys. Yet despite a rich and colourful cast of characters, and a potent mixture of anguish and pathos to match anything in the later Salem witch trials, it has never before been told in full. At one level, the story of Warboys features a conflict about honour and truth between two families in a close-knit Elizabethan village. At another level, the tale concerns a struggle for primacy between local gentry and yeomanry mirroring wider social tensions. But lying still deeper, at the heart of the narrative, coils a dark account of possession by demons, of malevolent spirits, of trust broken and of children accursed. What really happened in Warboys in the late sixteenth century, to drive this otherwise unremarkable rural community into such a frenzy of brutality and violence? Carefully piecing together the evidence from the records and accounts of the day, Philip Almond leads us into a half-forgotten world of horror and crime, of victims and victimiers, of spectres and unseen spirits, of sex with the devil and 'scratching' the witch. He shows us a macabre and dangerous world, where nothing is as it seems, where evil begets evil, and where innocence is betrayed. And where adults and children alike might literally frighten themselves - and others - to death. Writing with a masterful sense of place and time, Philip Almond uncovers the hidden underbelly of late Elizabethan England, offering the richest account yet given of demonic possession in the period. Going behind the texts to reconstruct an enthralling story of sadism, sorcery and death, The Witches of Warboys reveals a world where the uncanny and the supernatural, the divine and the demonic, were only a footfall away.
Witches of Warboys, The
An Extraordinary Story of Sorcery, Sadism and Satanic Possession in Elizabethan England