Saturday 8 August 2015

Bit of a false start this morning as I discovered that my front wheel had a slow puncture caused by a tiny flake of gravel which was embedded in the tyre. Fortunately I was planning to fit new tyres before I set off on Lejog as the existing ones are well worn. So after a quick wheel change - I'll fit the new tyres another time - I was off. The infernal wind was still blowing but the sun was shining and it wasn't long before I was feeling pretty warm.

Most of the villages round here have interesting villages signs which show features of interest. These can sometimes be quite obscure and it's fun to try and work out what the story is. Otherwise some googling back at home can give some insights. The sign at Wickam Skeith was fairly straightforward and I propped the Bianchi up against it while I had a look around.

Back home I Googled Wickham Skeith to find out a bit more. Fascinating. Wikipedia says that possibly the last "swimming" or "dunking" in the country as a test of witchcraft occurred here in 1825. Isaac Stebbings, a pedlar aged about 67, was accused of black magic and driving two people (a thatcher's wife and a farmer) insane. He was immersed in the Grimmer and floated three times - considered a positive indication of guilt in those times. A second trial was planned for the following week, but the clergyman and churchwardens intervened and kept people away from the Grimmer. Three woman were also found to be guilty by a witchfinder general, but mostly of deviating from the religious line of the local church. No records seem to exist as to their demise, natural or otherwise. Hmm. the Grimmer features in the village sign but no mention of Isaac or the three women.

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