Willoughby Bedford Journal investigating folklore and superstitions
I thought of spending a spell of time around witch country, that of Pendle in North West Lancashire. Certainly long before Lancashire became identified with the cotton industry it was famous for its witches. I fancy something a bit more fairy tale and woodland, so have taken, not quite the yellow brick road, but the A59 to Clitheroe to park up by the river Ribble.
I’m here to meet Ted Hustwick at Brungerley. Standing with shepherd’s crook in hand, flat cap set straight and a body warmer, I spotted Ted easily, not from that description, but his description of himself. Look for someone resembling a hot water cylinder with a jacket tied around it!
We walked to a spot along the river bank where Ted said an evil spirit haunts. It’s claimed one life in every seven years, by dragging an unwary traveller to a watery grave. I stopped walking and moved away from the edge of the bank. Ted chuckled, he sounded like an old Landrover struggling to turnover.
Suddenly he caught sight of something and surprised me breaking into a run. There, he said, c’mon. Look! The water witch. I was intrigued. C’mon Willoughby, its Jenny Greenteeth! Ted crouched down on the bank side and in doing so I thought he might roll into the river.
I caught up and crouched down beside him. See, Jenny Greenteeth.
What we were looking at was just another name for the green water plants such as duckweed, which I suspect can ensnare bathers by wrapping its fronds around their limbs and dragging the poor souls down beneath the surface.
Ted turned his ruddy face and smiled revealing an unbelievable blinding white set of dentures. Fancy a pie!
by Willoughby Bedford/John Riley