Sunday, 13 March 2016

Pendle: Symbolism, magic and Freemasonry

The 'Eye of God' on the Church Tower at Newchurch.
The area of Pendle in Lancashire, is a hilly, windswept part of the English countryside that encompasses a number of villages and includes the famous and imposing Pendle hill. The area is steeped in folklore, and is well known for the imfamous witch trials of the early seventeenth century. The connection to the witches has left a legacy of a land richly associated with mystery and magic, and there are traces of the witches story in most of the surrounding areas, such as the villages of Newchurch, Barley and Roughlee.

In Newchurch there is a rich array of symbolism, the most prominent being what is referred to as the 'All-Seeing Eye' on the tower of St. Mary's Church. According to the Church literature, it is known as the 'Eye of God' and was used by the Wardens of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a viewpoint to watch for wedding or funeral processions approaching the Church. Another theory put forward is that it was a representation of the eye of God watching the locals. It is certainly made to look like an eye today, and it has become a popular tourist landmark.

The faded skull, crossbones and hourglass on the
Nutter grave in the churchyard.
Also in the grave yard is a grave of the Nutter family marked with a skull and cross bones. Alice Nutter was one of the women tried as a witch in 1612, and although she isn't buried in the grave, it has become somewhat of a memorial for tourists leaving flowers in memory of her. There is also Pendle Lodge No. 4703, named after the area and being founded in 1925 in nearby Nelson. Another nearby town called Colne has an early Masonic history dating to the 1720s, the Freemasons of Colne having a very early Royal Arch Chapter.

The mist over the enigmatic Pendle hill.

A cottage in Newchurch.

The Pendle Inn, built in 1930. Popular with walkers and tourists to the area.

The Nutter family still reside in the Pendle area. Here is a memorial plaque in the church for a branch of the Nutter family.

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