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Would You Have Survived The Bideford Witch Trials? | North Devon

24th October 2018

Categories: Visitor News

Would You Have Survived The Bideford Witch Trials? | North Devon

North Devon is known for many things, from its natural beauty to its rich cultural history, but perhaps lesser known are the details of its more gruesome past - such as the Bideford Witch Trials. These were actually the last of the famous medieval witch trials to take place in England, as three Bideford women, Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susannah Edwards were hanged in Exeter for convictions of witchcraft.

Between 1500 and 1660, Europe was stormed by suspicion that its population was full of witches - magic yielding individuals who could curse or kill their enemies, devoured children and defied God. This triggered a persecution of witches across the continent, and would lead to the deaths of 80,000 people - mostly women - through gruesome, torturous methods.

Paranoia was rife: the smallest sign would be enough to deem you guilty. It could be anything from the colour of your hair (red-heads were particularly suspicious) to the hand that you wrote with (most religions historically recognise being left-handed as an inclination towards wickedness - although women who were able to write were suspected anyway, as knowledge was also associated with witchcraft).

The higher your accumulation of witch-like attributes became, the more danger you were in. Only one person needed to accuse you of sorcery in order for you to be convicted, which was the case for the Bideford Witches, who were accused of bewitching other Bideford residents with illness, or even causing death.

No one was really safe from being deemed a witch - although some were better off than others. The trials themselves were often so violent and unfair that, even if you survived the initial trial, you either died later from your wounds, or you were tortured into a confession that led them to sentence you to death anyway.

So, how would you have fared in a witch-hunting Bideford? Would your marital status have saved you, or would your children be deemed the offspring of the Devil?

Stay In Devon have created a quiz that’ll tell you all about your witchly qualities - and which Terrible Torture method would have been your fate. Make sure to give it a go, and remember to let us know your results on our Facebook page or by tweeting @lovenorthdevon!

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