Witch Craft

The Witchcraft Act of 1542 made Witchcraft an offence punishable by death. This act was repealed five years later. A new act was created in 1563 and demanded the death penalty for anybody found guilty for using witchcraft to commit murder.

Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General began his career in 1644, tracking witches before torturing them to obtain a confession. He had been influenced by a book call ‘Daemonologie’ written by the future King James I. The book described demonology and reason for prosecuting anybody associated with it.

Another book, ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ (Hammer of Witches) was written by clergyman
Heinrich Kramer and was printed in 1486. This publication laid out reasons for why witches should be exterminated within theological and legal terms.

Hopkins was responsible for many deaths, including nineteen in one day in Chelmsford, with another four dying in prison.  


The area we now think of as Basildon Borough was not immune from the witch craze 
that swept across Europe. During 1574 Dunton resident Anne Brewer was accused of witchcraft.  Unfortunately, there are no details of what the accusation was made for or what the outcome was. In 1582 Agnes Bryant, of Great Burstead, was accused of witchcraft. She was found guilty of bewitching 20 'brewinges of beere'. In 1589 Thomas Corde of Langdon Hills was also accused.


Joan Bell of Fobbing was accused in 1592.  Margaret Prentize of Little Burstead was accused in 1605.

Buildings of Historical Interest (Listed)

Laindon Ponds – Wash Road, Laindon – Is a late C16 or early C17, grade II 2 storey timber-framed and plaster house. The date on the gate indicates that it was built in 1580.The west front was altered in the C18 along with other changes to the building in the C20. It is now faced in roughcast with a tiled roof. Its’ moat still runs round three quarters of the property it is only the road frontage (Wash Road) where the moat is missing. It is still a very attractive building.

Registered Charity Number 1176037

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