A new sculpture of a large dog, entitled Dandy, is to be unveiled in an East Lancashire town to help tell the story of the Pendle Witches in a new way.

Dandy, which was created out of steel by Dutch-born, Lancashire-based sculptor, Marjan Wouda, has been installed near Booths on Station Road in Clitheroe, and will be officially unveiled next week.

The revealing of the sculpture marks the end of a long journey which began with Marjan’s idea to tell the story of the Pendle Witches in a new way through a piece of public art. 

Many people and organisations have been involved in helping make Dandy’s presence a reality, including helping to secure the funding needed to see the piece permanently installed in the town.

Marjan says she was inspired by accounts of the Pendle Witches, such as the one made by young James Device during his trial in 1612, of ‘familiar spirits’. 

James confessed to having a ‘familiar’ in the form of a black dog who he named Dandy. In those days it was believed that witches were attended by a supernatural spirit, often said to assume the form of an animal.

Dandy connects Clitheroe to its landscape, sitting in the shadow of Pendle Hill. And Clitheroe Castle itself is very likely to have played a part in the story as a stop-over for those on their way to Lancaster Gaol.

Margaret Pearson, one of the 12 accused in 1612, who was referred to as the Padiham Witch, was sentenced for bewitching a horse and made to stand upon the pillory in Clitheroe on four successive market days.

Marjan talks of animal-lore being a constant subject in her work and has incorporated them into her artistic output where they remain a deep source of interest.

She said: “Our stories are a testament to those intertwined lives, and here in Lancashire we have many, from giant cows and cats, to talking hares and dogs.

“The Dandy sculpture invites us to celebrate what makes this town, in this landscape setting, unique.”

Booths has supported the idea of a sculpture for Clitheroe from the outset by offering a location as well as funding towards its installation.

Edwin Booth, chairman of Booths, said: “My family has a history in Lancashire stretching back over 200 years and we value the heritage of our county.

“It is our hope that the story of Dandy will provide interest and enjoyment to local families and visitors to Clitheroe.”

Clitheroe and Ribble Valley residents and businesses have brought Dandy to life through a crowdfunding campaign led by Clitheroe’s Chamber of Commerce.

The scheme has been coordinated by a group of local enthusiasts who attracted further funds from: Lancashire County Council, Clitheroe Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Clitheroe Town Council, Houldsworth Solicitors, Hargreaves Contracting, Anderton Bosonnet Estate Agents, Arts Council England, Ribble Valley Borough Council, Clitheroe Civic Society, and many other organisations and individuals.

The crowdfunding campaign has also helped commission an education pack to be distributed to local schools, and publicity material to encourage tourists to seek it out.

The sculpture will be unveiled by Clitheroe’s Mayor on Thursday May 16, in a small ceremony.

Later that evening the crowdfunding team will hold a community event to thank backers and celebrate with everyone who has been involved with the sculpture and arts and culture in the area.

Tour guide and local storyteller, Simon Entwistle, said: “To my knowledge, this is the only public sculpture representing a ‘familiar’.

“The belief that ‘cunning folk’ were assisted by a spiritual creature in the form of a man, or an animal, is key to the Pendle Witches’ story.

“Representing this in the form of a sculpture is a wholly original way of engaging people with it.”

Keeping the story alive and relevant for younger people, a group from Ella Shaw’s Academy of Art will also perform a poem on the night, specially written by local poet, Alison McNulty.

For more information visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dandy-installation-celebration-tickets