Wednesday 18 January 2023

"No longer abused"


"The fighting fairy woman" Joan Wytte was born in Bodmin c1775. During her lifetime she earnt a reputation as a clairvoyant and healer with many people seeking her help. In times of very limited medical services on offer [and for those you would have had to pay dearly] the local "wisewoman" would have been known to many locally and played an important role in the community. Joan suffered from extreme pain from a tooth abscess in later life which made her cantankerous and violent. She was known to brawl and at such times displayed such levels of strength that some whispered she must be possessed by the devil. It was her fighting which landed her in Bodmin jail where she died from bronchial pneumonia aged only 38 in 1813.

In death she was not allowed to rest in peace. Her skeleton ended up as a medical specimen until it was passed onto the founder of the Museum of Witchcraft, Cecil Williamson, in the 1960s. It continued to be displayed as a curio until 1996 when the new owner took her bones down and placed them in a coffin. In 1998 the decision was taken to show her remains the respect they deserved and late into the night at the dark moon on 20th October she was interred in a cradle made of hazel and fleece in unconsecrated ground just beyond the churchyard perimeter near Minster church. Having read about her story in the museum in Boscastle we decided to pay our respects at her grave as have many before us. The slate gravestone is very diminutive and reads " Joan Wytte. Born 1775. Died 1813 in Bodmin Jail. Buried 1998. No longer abused."

A very moving tribute.

Arilx
 

8 comments:

  1. Sad that she was an 'exhibit' for so long before the right thing was done

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    1. People had sadly stopped looking at her as a fellow human being. Arilx

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  2. Ack. 'No longer abused.' That poor woman.

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  3. That tribute is very moving. Aren't we fortunate to have been born when we were? x

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    1. Indeed. There is still much to be done and some who drag their knuckles along the ground and would like to turn back the clock, but at least diversity and equality is being spoken about now. Arilx

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  4. That is indeed a very moving tribute. And it follows a tale so oft repeated of women blamed or carrying the burden for the ills of the world

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    1. Yes....we are the scapegoat for the ills of the world. Arilx

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