Witches of Beccles
Beccles

31st August

Beccles Witches
 31st August

In the 14th century when the Black Death was raging through the country, it was thought that vermin were the cause (how right they were). 3 men of the town of Beccles where the disease was rife came forward to the town council and stated they had been forward to all the saints of the time asking for assistance to stamp out the vermin but to no avail. Their only course of action was to approach the 3 witches that were banned from the town and lived down by the river. The 3 ugly old witches livedin a ramshackled shack and no one would go anywhere near them. Screams and strange goings on would happen in the shack at night and strange shapes and curious lights would be seen. They were a menace to the town. The council agreed for the 3 men to approach the witches to ask for their help in ridding the town of the vermin, and the 3 men demanded a large amount of cash from the town to do it. 15,000 marks each was reported to be the price demanded, a colossal amount in its day. They went down to the river and approached the witches and offered them 1 mark each, the witches snatched the money and prepared the cauldron. The 3 men became uneasy as the sparks flew out of the cauldron and a dark outline of a man formed in the steam coming out of it. They were told to renounce the church and swear allegiance to the devil which they all did. The man's form in the steam from the cauldron turned a vivid red and took the men's hands in turn scorching their hands. The witches told them to go and get their musical instruments and walk the streets of the town to draw the vermin out of all the houses and finally to return to the river shack where the rats would be following them. They did as they were told and soon had all the rats, mice and other nasty creatures following them back down to the river. There was 2 ½ miles of them following them. At the shack they kept playing and all the vermin ran into the cauldron fire and perished. As soon as the town was rid of all the vermin the 3 men suffered a terrible fate, all the meat fell of their bones and their bodies caught light by spontaneous internal combustion. The money was never claimed and the council set up a fund for foreign children in hot places for handkerchiefs etc. to use to shade them. This was done in conjunction with the anti freckle league. So if you are moored up by the river on the night of 31st August every year the ghosts of the 3 men can be seen playing their instruments walking in single file with a black seething mass behind them, the mass disappearing in the fire.