The Salt Lane Witches

  • 17 Jan 2012
  • Folklore
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The Power of a witch to bring wagons to a halt was told by Edward Corbett in one of his local fairy tales. Two old women, who lived in Salt Lane (Castle St), at Worcester, were known witches who cured ailments and gave medicines, and always had money to pay their way, but they obtained it by a kind of wagon tax.

Before their cottage in Salt Lane was a deep mire that never altogether dried up. Often a heavily laden salt wagon would stick in it, and do what the horses and wagoners could, they never could start it. Then one of the old women would come out of their house and offer to help. The wagoner would give her sixpence, and she would stroke the wheel-horse and bless them, and the cart would immediately draw out and go ahead easily. But one day, a driver who had often paid his sixpence, came lightly loaded, and reckoned he could pass the mire easily. But the wagon stuck fast. The same old woman came to her door and offered to help. He answered her across the wheel-horse's back, and as he did so, he noticed a straw lying across the horse's back. He pulled out his knife and cut it in two, and thereat the horses screamed and leapt out of their footholds, and the team and wagon went crashing down the lane - but then in a wallow of blood and mire lay the body of the other old woman - cut in two: