Another visit to Fordwich

On holiday in 1951, we went to the beautiful garden of Kent
I don’t remember the journey much, but I was so happy we went
Through Blackheath, the hired car trundled the road
The A2 quaint old scenery, the Oast houses then flowed.

At a pretty little river we stopped for lunch
Dad hired a rowboat, the river weeds wafted in the current
Pushed toward the bank by a crosscurrent
A mile or so down-stream, we stopped, our fish paste or spam sandwiches  to munch.

On the way back to the docking bays I asked “what’s that Dad”
“An old witch’s ducking stool he said, they’d strap  a poor soul in,
And duck her under the water, for a long repeated time
until they were sure, the poor tortured woman, was dead”.

He explained that far back in the medieval days, the fear of witches was great
Often women who were different, could be denounced as using sorcery
A trial, perhaps held by The Witch Finder General, would decide their fate
It wasn’t known how many had faced this barbaric mandate.

Apparently, should she survive the ducking, she was clearly a powerful witch
The witch taken and tied to, a firm upright stake in the ground
Where stooks of dry corn and wood kindling placed around the stake
Only after she was burned to death alive, would the devils hold on her break.

Why is it still here, I thought nobody could think witches still survive today
Why not see it as an instrument of torture, rip it out and throw it away
I could see in my mind’s eye, the village folk pointing and jeering at her plight
At that poor woman’s screaming, at that pitiless sight.

Fordwich, is such a nice town now, despite its antecedence
The river still meanders past its old church and the new Fordwich arms
The pretty  timber whitewashed houses, now hides their dark history of malevolence
But for all that the village still oozes its charms.


This entry was posted in Autobiography, Poetry, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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