Why have there been so many witchcraft reports in one part of Notts?

Annesley Hall, Nottinghamshire. Photo: Wendy Harrison.

Paranormal experts have been trying to understand why one part of Nottinghamshire has seen 125 reports of witchcraft in two years – with one claiming to have witnessed a secret ceremony.

Figures show there were 87 calls about witchcraft in Ashfield North to Notts Police in 2016 and 38 last year.

This is compared to just a handful of reports in other areas across the county.

Local experts and believers say some of the reports could be ghostly activity which relates to, or has been caused, by witchcraft carried out in the past.

Dick Starr, 73, of Underwood, used to work at Annesley Hall and claims he saw his first ghost there in the 1960s.

The hall dates from the mid-13th century and was previously home to Mary Chaworth, a lover of poet Lord Byron, who lived at the nearby Newstead Abbey. The hall was left empty for years before being badly damaged by a fire in May 2015.

Mr Starr used to lead paranormal tours around the hall, which he says is “one of the most haunted spots in Nottinghamshire” – and helped to film an episode of the television show Most Haunted there 10 years ago.

During one visit he claims to have once come across a group from Kirkby-in-Ashfield practising witchcraft in the cellar of the hall.

“They had bowls of water for reflections, mirrors and a Ouija board down there,” he said, adding he has seen “many ghosts and spirits” at the hall – including a former maid who hung herself in the dairy area of the building.

The motivations for practising witchcraft vary – it is not always linked to evil intentions and some followers of Paganism practice witchcraft.

Lee Roberts lives in Sutton-in-Ashfield and is a professional ghost hunter.

He said the recent spike in reports of witchcraft could be related to past events, rather than current, practising witches.

“What they are actually reporting is ghostly, paranormal activity that may be related to witchcraft in the past,” he said.

“For instance Sherwood Forest has a history of witchcraft. The bowl area of Sherwood Forest is a very haunted area – it was also known as a Medieval burial ground and also where people used to gather and do witchcraft back in the 18th and 17th Century.

“What people are reporting, if they’ve seen any paranormal activity [in the past], they would report of things like that.

“If they’ve mentioned it was at a witchcraft site, it gets put under the umbrella of witchcraft.”

He said he’s had lots of reports of sightings of ghostly figures on the route of Teversal Trails near Sutton-in-Ashfield – the site of several alleged ghost sightings and a report in May which was linked to a witch.

But staff at the Teversal Trails Visitors Centre yesterday said they have not received any reports of ghost sightings by members of the public.

The Teversal Trails area is said to be haunted.
Photo © Trevor Rickard (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Mr Starr says one of the most ‘frightening’ sights he’s seen was a young woman become ‘possessed’ by spirits while he was working with a Derbyshire group to film paranormal activity in the hall.

“She got possessed – she’d never been there before, she was only 19. Her mum and dad were frightened,” Dick said.

“They had to put the Bible on her and sage and to get her out of it. All the cameras and everything went dead. They [the spirits] were relaying messages that they didn’t want anything to be picked up.

“All her eyes went up in her head, her tongue went black – it was genuine, it was a frightening situation. That was upstairs in Annesley Hall.”

Selston Parish Council and Annesley and Felley Parish Council also said they had not heard any recent reports of witchcraft or ghosts.

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