Monday, 7 May 2012

Witches, dragons and cake

Yesterday we visited the little New Forest village of Burley.   It is a tiny little village - one main ‘high street’, quite  a few little tea shops, a couple of pubs and several witchcraft shops.  As it is in the New Forest you also get cows and horses wandering freely around the high street!   We spent a lot of time in a tea shop obviously, researching cake ;-)

They hold some interesting events throughout the year, we caught the Rescue Santa event one year, just by chance.  It was hilarious, keystone firemen attempting to rescue Santa who was stuck on the chimney of the pub, very entertaining.  The website for more details on events is 

Burley also has a mystical history of witches, smuggling and dragons!

In the late 1950’s a witch called Sybil Leek lived there.   She was often seen wandering around the village in her long cloak with her pet jackdaw sitting on her shoulder.  Once she announced she was a witch, it brought a lot of media attention too, the Witchcraft Act only being repealed in 1951.  Burley was flooded with tourists coming to catch a glimpse of her. Unfortunately her looks started to cause un rest within the community, believing her to be  a black witch.  Eventually when her landlord refused to renew her lease she decided it was time to move on and left for America.   Some information also states that Sybil worked for the British Government during the Second Wold War, providing phony horoscopes for the Germans that were interested in Astrology.  She is apparently responsible for writing the chart that convinced Rudolf Hess to fly to England, where he was captured.   Sybil passed away in 1982 but leaves behind over 60 books on the craft.  For more details of her life there is a good recount here

The 16th Century pub, the Queens head was notorious for smuggling and highwaymen.

And the dragon?    Apparently the Bisterne Dragon lived in the earthworks of Burley Beacon.  He demanded a bucket of milk every day until a knight happened along one day with his two dogs.  There was a fearsome battle and the dragon and the dogs were left dead, however unfortunately the knight was also mortally wounded.


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