1868: Mystery illness to Cuckfield wife blamed on witchcraft


Belfast Morning News - Wednesday 19 August 1868


Witchcraft Service.—The Sussex Advertiser tells a story of pretended witchcraft, which occurred at Cuckfield the other day:-

A married woman, living the town, had for months been confined to her bed, and her malady not being exactly understood by her friends, they were persuaded into a belief that it was the effect of witchcraft.

Cuckfield High Street circa 1870

"A cunning man" in the neighbourhood was thereupon consulted, and he promised his assistance to expel the evil spirit. It was necessary that the charm must be worked with the greatest secrecy, and at a particular hour, which, according to the book of necromancy of which he was possessed, he fixed to at the midnight the day preceding the Sabbath, and preparations were accordingly made—the planets being favourable.—


It was necessary to procure certain quantity of new pins, that were secretly purchased, and a pair of tongs belonging to the house, which was also done; and with the greatest secrecy the party assembled to drive away the imp that the witch had placed over the woman.


The magician having performed certain ceremonies, and the pins having been placed in position, something seemed to have been burned, and in a commanding tone be made use of ejaculations, and read a series of jargon that lasted a full hour; but it could not be ascertained of what service the tongs were in the ceremony—whether they were used as St. Dunstan was said to have used the legendary pair at Mayfield Priory, or for what species of conjuration is unknown but to those in the secret.


However, as the eavesdroppers chose to divulge what they knew, the charm is supposed to have been broken, and the witch, instead of riding off up the chimney on a broomstick. has still dominant power, the woman remaining in the same state as before.