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Running time: 1 hour (including any intervals)

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The Women they Called Witches with AK Blakemore, Margaret Meyer & Marion Gibson

Sunday 22nd October

  • Description

East Anglia is synonymous with witch hunts due to one of medieval history’s most notorious figures: Matthew Hopkins – the self-styled ‘Witchfinder General’. It’s estimated Hopkins’ work led to around 100 executions across East Anglia. The first recorded account of a witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1599. In 1645, 16 women and 2 men were found guilty of witchcraft, all of them were from villages in the surrounding area. The trial, facilitated by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, saw all 18 executed in one day on August 27 1645. Up until then the biggest legal case had been in Pendle, Lancashire (memorably fictionalised in Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate). The last witch trial at Bury St. Edmunds was in 1694. After just three years, Matthew Hopkins retired as Witchfinder General. He moved back to Manningtree, and before the year ended had died of supposed tuberculosis. But his disturbing legacy lived on with his book ‘The Discovery of Witches’ providing a blueprint for further persecution of witches over the next hundred years.

This panel event with three celebrated authors whose work tells the stories of the women they called witches, will explore both the history and the modern relevance of such stories. The authors will read from and talk about their books and there will be discussion about why we shouldn’t forget the plight of the people who lost their lives to the witch trials in the town we live in.

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