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John Nichols, writing in his History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, published in 1800, says that in Wymeswold "It is commonly believed... that, about 80 or 100 years ago, here were several witches; of whom the old inhabitants relate strange stories."

It is possible to take this at face value. However it is also conceivable that this was a distorted memory of the slander that had no doubt accompanied the persecution of early Nonconformists.

Witch stone

A naturally holed stone, known as a witch stone, as kept in a dairy in Wymeswold until 1852 when it was presented to Leicester Museum and bore the following label:

"This has been preserved for many generations in our family, and till within the last few years great virtues were attributed to it. It prevented the entrance of fairies into the dairy, preserved milk from taint, kept off diseases and charmed off warts, etc.
Presented by T.R. Potter, Esq. in 1852."

Source: County Folk-lore: Leicestershire and Rutland by Charles Billson (1895).

The stone has subsequently been lost.

Originally published in A Portrait of Wymeswold 1991.

Copyright Wolds Historical Organisation.

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