Pennick Nigel - Witchcraft and secret societies of rural England

Author : Pennick Nigel
Title : Witchcraft and secret societies of rural England The magic of Toadmen, plough witches, mummers, and bonesmen
Year : 2019

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Introduction. Keeping Up the Day. Listen, lords, both great and small, And take good heed of what I say: I shall you tell as true a tale, As ever was heard by night or day. When I watched the demolition of a weather-boarded barn on Bradmore Street, Cambridge, early in 1968, I was struck at how it was going unnoticed that this was the last remaining structure from when that urban street had been farmland. Walking through the rubble, I picked up a smashed pantile, and there, scratched in it by the potter who made it before it went to the kiln, was the date 1738. In 1968, many of the buildings of the town in the Kite area and on the other side of East Road were boarded up in various states of dereliction. Most, unlike the venerable barn, dated from after 1811, when the land had been enclosed and sold off as building plots. Unnoticed and scorned, ready only to be pulled down, many of these buildings had the telltale signs of the craftsmen who made them: stained glass, ornamental weatherboards, wrought-iron wall anchors, doors pierced with the Cambridge “spark of life” pattern. The inhabitants had been moved out, and “sociocide” had taken place so that a new shopping center could be built. In late 1968, a group of us set up the publication Cambridge Voice. It was clear to us that had these buildings been part of the university, they would have been lovingly preserved, and tourists would have taken admiring photographs of them. Although Cambridge Voice ceased publication in 1970, in our own small way we attempted to show that the everyday life of the town was authentic, existing with no help from the university, for between town and gown a social apartheid existed that has not changed in all the years since. The identity of Cambridge, as presented to tourists and the world at large, was and is solely of the university, as though the town itself and the working people of the town who serve the university and without whom it could not function were and are of no account. Local identity, important in so many ways, is marginalized within its own home. To know oneself, one has to know the past. But how we perceive the past is important. The past is not a single thing that can be described and defined like a single object; there is a near-impenetrable complexity in what happened and the effect it has on the present. Many people look back to the past in an uncritical way; there is a tendency to glamorize the past. Reenactors and museum proprietors are in no position to re-create the misery and suffering that characterized large parts of many people’s lives in the past, so an acceptable impression is created instead. ...

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