District eye on Newchurch-in-Pendle

Lancashire Telegraph: Maureen Stopforth loves living in Newchurch-in-Pendle Maureen Stopforth loves living in Newchurch-in-Pendle

ON the bleak steep hillside above Fence, leading out towards Barley, is the small hamlet of Newchurch-in-Pendle.

The historic community, which has around 80 residents in quaint cottages and across scattered farms, has amenities including St Mary’s Church and neighbouring St Mary’s Newchurch Primary School.

The area, which attracts many hikers, was, in 1612, at the centre of the largest witch hunt in English history.

Pendle witch trials saw the arrest and execution of ten alleged witches, with one of the families at the centre of the trial, the Demdikes, living in Newchurch.

The legacy of the witch trials still lives on in the area, with Lancashire’s only dedicated witchcraft shop, Witches Galore, in the heart of Newchurch, selling witches’ outfits and memorabilia, including books, jewellery, ornaments and plaques.

Although the current St Mary’s Church was built in the 17th century, there was a chapel of ease on the site in 1250 and a later chapel was dedicated in 1544.

To the east of the porch, up against the south wall, is the grave of a member of the Nutter family.

Legend has it that it’s the last resting place of Alice Nutter, one of the Pendle witches. However, historians believe this is unlikely, as executed witches were not usually buried in consecrated ground.

Maureen Stopforth, 73, owner of Witches Galore, has lived in the village and run the shop for 33 years.

Although she originally was against moving to the village from her home town of Nelson, she says there is now nowhere she would rather live. She said: “When my husband mentioned moving here and running the shop, my initial thought was that I would die of boredom.

“But 33 years on I am still here and love it.

“We see people from all walks of life here, many from across the globe who come because they have heard of the Pendle witches.

“I love the peace and quiet living in Newchurch.

“I can set off walking with my dog and not see a single person.

“We have fantastic views of Pendle from here and the surrounding countryside.

“I feel so lucky that I am able to live somewhere as beautiful as this, it really lifts the spirit.

“Although it is so quiet living here, you can be soon into town, with Burnley and Clitheroe both within easy reach.

“As there are only 80 to 90 people who live here, we have a very close knit community.

“Everyone knows each other and people look out for the ill or elderly.”

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