The Hunting of Dame Cofield

  • 29 Oct 2021
  • Folklore
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The ability of a witch to turn herself into another creature is told in the story of the hunting of Dame Cofield of Leigh. John Spooner of Hopton Court, Leigh, kept a pack of hounds, which in the days of small local packs, hunted the west side of the Teme Valley, just as the Cotheridge pack worked the east side. Jabez Allies, who had the story from contemporaries of Spooner, relates that whenever his pack passed through a field in Leigh Sinton called 'The Oak and Crab Tree', the hounds invariably ran full cry after some invisible prey, and never stopped until they reached a cottage at Crumpal, or Crumpen Hill, in Cradley, occupied by an old woman named Cofield, when they would turn back. At such times, Mr. Spooner would remark;

'Ah, they are gone after that old witch Dame Cofield'.

On one occasion, about 1840, Mr. Spooner, before taking his hounds into the haunted field, posted his huntsman, James Bayliss, to watch the cottage, in the hope of unravelling the mystery. Bayliss saw the hounds come full cry over the hedge and ditch, as straight as an arrow, and upon their leaping into the garden, espied before them:  'either a black cat or a witch in that shape, which bounded from the hounds, first upon a shed and then through a hole in the window of Dame Cofield's bedroom'.