ABOVE :Superimposed image of how ” Old Ellen ” would have looked in and around 1881 – 1912 at the well
AN ALLEGED CUNNING WITCH , WISE WOMAN AND HERBALIST FROM THE FOREST OF DEAN. SHE WAS TRIED FOR WITCHCRAFT HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL AND AS A RESULT OF A GREAT MANY LOCAL FRIENDS SUPPORT AT THE TRIAL SHE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY FOUND NOT GUILTY .
ABOVE AND BELOW …… A BRIEF LOOK AT SOME OF THE EXHIBITION MATERIAL THAT FEATURES THE FOREST OF DEAN FOLKLORE TALE ON THE CUNNING WITCH OF THE FOREST OF DEAN … ELLEN HAYWARD
ABOVE AND BELOW … COPIES OF THE ORIGINAL 1881 CENSUS RECORDS THAT SHOW THAT ELLEN HAYWARD LIVED AT 30 PEMBROKE ROAD ( NOW PEMBROKE STREET) , CINDERFORD . ALSO THAT SHE LIVED THERE SEEMINGLY AS A WIDOW AGED 39, ALONG WITH HER SON EDWARD THEN AGED 9 , HER DAUGHTERS RUTH AGED 5 AND FLORENCE AGED 3.
ELLEN’S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER FLORENCE WAS PLACED AT WESTBURY-ON-SEVERN WORKHOUSE, PRESUMABLY BY HER MOTHER, AFTER THIS 1881 CENSUS RECORDS AS SEEN HERE ABOVE .
SHE LATER DIED AT THE AGE OF 8 AND AS INSCRIBED ON ELLEN HAYWARD’S HEADSTONE IS BURIED ALONG WITH HER MOTHER IN THE SAME GRAVE. (SEE HEADSTONE INSCRIPTION ON IMAGE BELOW .)
MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.) I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the practice of witchcraft at May Hill and other parts of Gloucester; whether he is aware that, in the case of a family named Markey, four members last week lost their reason and one attempted to commit suicide at a place called Blakeley, as a result of these practices; and whether, in view of the alarm in the locality, he can state what action will be taken by the authorities to suppress witchcraft.
MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS I have made inquiry into this very curious case. I find that Markey and his wife consulted a supposed witch about some money which they believed to have been stolen, and that subsequently three members of the family became insane, while the wife left the house and remained concealed in a wood for nearly four days. If sufficient evidence is forthcoming to justify a prosecution, proceedings will be taken by the local police against the woman who was consulted. Hansard : 31st May 1905
She was known throughout the Forest as Old Ellen, and famed as a healer and “wise woman”
Ellen Hayward was born at Arlingham, a village across the River Severn and opposite Newnham, in 1839, the daughter of Charles and Mary Ann Hayward. Her home was at Pembroke Road, Cinderford.
As a herbalist she used potions to cure ailments and dress sores of both animals and human beings. Her herbs were gathered by moonlight and dried across the rafters in her cottage. She would cure forestry men, whose only protection against the elements was often only a sack split open and tied round them, of their chronic rheumatism. Farmers from Hereford used to ride over in their gigs seeking her help.
She was known to treat free of charge servant girls from Cheltenham, who suffered from housemaid’s knee after washing stone corridors every day, free of charge. She normally charged no fees for her help and advice but simply accepted what her customers offered her. She also called herself a phrenologist. Phrenology is the science which studies the relationship between a person’s character and the morphology of their skull. She appears to have been liked and respected by Forest of Dean residents. When sent for to treat a woman with a serious varicose ulcer in Mitcheldean her first action when entering the bedroom was to throw open the window and instruct the patient to keep it open. She cured the ulcer but would not let any man see what she was doing.
She had come to national attention in May 1905. Ellen was at that time visited by John Markey of May Hill who was worried that £50 had disappeared from a drawer in his house. Ellen advised him to go home and rest as she felt that he was unwell.
Within a week of this visit, three members of the Markey family had become violently insane. A daughter and granddaughter had to be taken to an asylum and his wife disappeared. After days of searching, she simply reappeared holding a hazel stick which, she claimed, was to protect against witches. Her son George, who had been involved in the search for his mother, then became violent and managed to impale his eye with a spike. After this ‘bootless and hatless’ he ran away and had to be detained by the police. He was later certified as insane.
In the villages of May Hill and Huntley people started carrying hazel sticks around as tales of what had happened to the Markey’s spread. The newspapers got hold of the story which then spread nationally. Questions were even asked in Parliament as to what action the authorities were going to take to suppress witchcraft. In the midst of all this furor a letter was published in the Dean Forest Mercury in which Ellen denied pretending to be a witch but accepted that she was well known as a phrenologist. This letter, written either by Ellen herself or, more likely, on her behalf went on to explain that this “cruel attack” by the papers had left her unable to make a living and asked readers to send donations. The house in which the Markeys lived, now called ‘Counties View’, still stands in Folly lane.
In May 1906 Ellen Hayward (67) was summoned at Littledean Petty Sessions, Forest of Dean, for using, between November 21, 1905, and March 1, 1906, “certain craft, or means, or device, to wit, by pretending witchcraft, to deceive or impose upon one of his Majesty’s subjects, to wit, James Davis.”
The prosecutor was Sergeant William Packer of Cinderford police. Our photo below shows him after his promotion to Inspector in 1909.
The son of a farm labourer, he was born at Southrop,Gloucestershire in 1860. He joined the Gloucestershire constabulary in 1878 and after serving as a sergeant at Painswick and Stroud was posted to Cinderford around 1903. Inspector Packer retired in 1919 after serving for 41 years. He died in 1929 and was buried at Cinderford’s St. John’s Churchyard, the same cemetery as Ellen Hayward.
Since 1854, Littledean gaol had been used as a police station and remand prison. In 1874 the east wing was remodelled as the Forest’s petty sessional court.
The Dean Forest Guardian reported on May 21st 1906 – “The old lady, attired in black, with a big warm muffler round her neck, and carrying a large handbag, was accommodated with a seat. She pleaded not guilty.”
James Davis, a 66 year old hurdle (fence) maker from Pauntley, Redmarley, had purchased a store pig at Newent Market for two guineas in September 1905. It was delivered to him on Gloucester’s Barton Fair day. The pig was OK for three weeks and then was taken ill. He felt that someone had a spite against him, suspecting a neighbour, Mrs Amos, of putting a charm on it. He had not seen her on his premises or spoken to her for ten years but thought she was often around there. Davis had two store pigs suffer in a similar way a year earlier and also two cows had been sick.
He somehow came into contact with a ‘travelling woman’ who informed him that the animals were being charmed and it was indeed a woman named Amos who was responsible.He explained to the court that having heard about Ellen Hayward’s experience at May Hill he asked his sisterHannah Elton to write to her enclosing a postal order for two shillings and sixpence and explaining his problem.
Before receiving an answer and still quite distressed, he decided to visit Ellen at Cinderford. He explained his concern and asked her to fix the pig’s problem. He related that she told him he must wait till the moon changes; “the pig will come alright soon”. He then paid her five shillings and she said that would do very well, and then gave him some further advice which resulted in the pig recovering.
Unfortunately at the end of November the animal had a relapse. He again sent a letter, written by his sister, to Cinderford enclosing a postal order for ten shillings. He received a written acknowledgement.
In December he himself became seriously ill so he went again to Cinderford and told Ellen Hayward his symptoms and asked her to put him right. He handed her a gold sovereign but she said that was too much. He then said “Be you satisfied? I want you to put me right – I dont want to have to come to you any more. She replied ” Its influenza. Dont come again till February.”
At the end of February he returned to Cinderford. Mrs Hayward asked him “How be you?” He then asked her to remove the charm affecting him and if she did’nt take it off soon he would ‘put it in the Government’s hands’ and in the end, that was what he did.
James Davis made a report to the police and Sgt William Packer from Cinderford interviewed him on the 7th of May 1906.
In her own statement, made the next day, Ellen Hayward explained that she was a herbalist by profession and had nothing to do with witchcraft or palmistry. She remembered Davis coming to her house and complaining of what the keeper had done to him. She told him that neither the keeper, nor her, nor anyone could do him harm in that way. They had no such power. She acknowledged receiving the money, which was very helpful to her, and had written a letter sending her best love to Mrs Elton. Ellen said that she had advised them to keep very quiet and not to let anyone know how the pigs were.
At the end of the hearing, the court retired. On their return, the magistrates, who had received thirty letters in support of Ellen Hayward, dismissed the charges.
Ellen Hayward described as a “widow and herbalist” died of a stroke in September 1912 and was buried at St. John’s Church, Cinderford. Her grave carries the inscription “erected by her friends in loving memory.”
In 1991 I interviewed in Cinderford a Mrs Lily Mills who had been treated as a small child by Mrs Hayward. She had no recollection of the encounter herself but had been told of it by parents. Mrs Hayward, no doubt embittered by the court case, had greeted them at her door by saying: ‘Oh, you be come to th’ old witch, are you?’ She was wrinkled and bent. Chickens roamed freely round her living room. Little Lily’s parents had taken her because doctors said her leg would have to be amputated. Mrs Hayward supplied a homemade salve which did ‘the world of good’, and Lily still had her legs almost eighty years afterwards. The Folklore of Gloucestershire by Roy Palmer. (A highly recommended read)
BELOW: A few shots of the main entrance to Littledean Jail in 2016 with a witch weathervane above the main gateway.
HERE BELOW …. CUNNING WITCH ELLEN HAYWARD AND OTHER FOREST OF DEAN FOLKLORE HISTORY …..
ST ANTHONY’S WELL , LITTLEDEAN, FOREST OF DEAN
MEDIEVAL HOLY GRAIL OR SACRED SPRING ???
SITUATED APPROXIMATELY 1.25 MILES AWAY FROM LITTLEDEAN JAIL
THIS WAS A POPULAR HAUNT AND SPIRITUAL SETTING DATING BACK TO THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD.ELLEN HAYWARD WOULD REGULARLY VISIT TO COLLECT THE NATURAL SPRING WATER TO USE FOR HER ALTERNATIVE HERBALIST AND REMEDIAL TREATMENTS. POSSIBLY ALSO FOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS WITH HER GOOD MANY FOLLOWERS WHO LOOKED UPON HER FOR TREATMENT FOR THEIR AILMENTS AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS. IT ALSO HAS A LONG HISTORY FOR BEING USED FOR PAGAN , WITCHCRAFT, OCCULT AND OTHER GATHERINGS THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES .
FOREST OF DEAN WISE WOMAN, HERBALIST AND ALLEGED WITCH … ELLEN HAYWARD HAD LONG BEEN LIVING,WORKING AND TRAVELLING BETWEEN CINDERFORD, LITTLEDEAN , MITCHELDEAN , FLAXLEY AND WESTBURY-ON-SEVERN. .
Superimposed original images of how ” Old Ellen ” would have looked in and around 1881 – 1912 at the well.
The well, which is said to have miraculous healing powers and was once used for public baptisms, the occult, Pagan Weddings and has been used for witchcraft past and present. .
” Old Ellen ” would almost certainly have used the well.
ABOVE AND BELOW : IMAGES OF THE MEDIEVAL ST ANTHONY’S WELL BUILT BY THE MONKS FROM NEAR BY FLAXLEY ABBEY .
Occult dabbling at ancient Gloucestershire well… for more information click HERE
BELOW : COPY OF ORIGINAL RARE PHOTOGRAPH OF ELLEN HAYWARD’S COFFIN PRIOR TO BURIAL . KINDLY SOURCED BY MARK TURNER , CINDERFORD TOWN COUNCILLOR FROM IAN POPE . THIS PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN 1912 COULD WELL BE EITHER AT THE LOCAL UNDERTAKERS RUNCICLES PREMISES OR POSSIBLY IN THE OUTBUILDING SHED AREA AT ELLEN’S HOME ADDRESS AT 30 PEMBROKE ROAD (NOW PEMBROKE STREET ) CINDERFORD . IN THOSE DAYS COFFINS WERE PUT ON DISPLAY AT THE HOME’S OF THE DECEASED FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO VISIT PRIOR TO BURIAL AND WITH ELLEN BEING A VERY POPULAR LADY IN THE FOREST OF DEAN AT THIS TIME , IT COULD WELL HAVE BEEN PICTURED AT HER HOME?
BELOW : COPY OF ORIGINAL RARE PHOTOGRAPH OF ELLEN HAYWARD’S HEADSTONE AND GRAVE TAKEN BACK IN 1912 . KINDLY SOURCED FROM IAN POPE VIA MARK TURNER, CINDERFORD TOWN COUNCILLOR
ABOVE : RECENT PHOTOGRAPH (JULY 2016) OF ELLEN HAYWARD’S HEADSTONE AT ST JOHNS CHURCH GRAVEYARD , CINDERFORD .
BELOW : ORIGINAL HAUNTING, GHOST- LIKE PAINTING BY GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTIST PAUL BRIDGMAN , OF ELLEN HAYWARD ( OLD ELLEN ) OVERLOOKING HER GRAVE AT ST JOHNS CHURCH , CINDERFORD WITH A SILHOUETTE IMAGE OF THE ENTRANCE TO LITTLEDEAN JAIL IN THE BACKGROUND , WHERE SHE WAS TRIED FOR WITCHCRAFT IN 1906. ON DISPLAY HERE AT THE JAIL.