The restless witch of Arborfield

Bull Inn, Aborfield

In the Swallowfield road in Arborfield, Berkshire there stand two old farms that face each other – White’s Farm and Bartlett’s Farm. In the early 18th century, residing at White’s farm were a farmer and his wife. The farmer’s wife was scorned by the villagers believing that she regularly cheated customers, often watering down the milk and penny-pinching on the weight of butter and cheese. Some of the locals went further, accusing her of being a witch with arcane magical powers.

After she had been dead a few months, several people reported seeing a spectre haunting that lonely stretch of road – a phantom figure, wringing its hands and moaning in a hollow voice: “Weight and measure gave I never; Milk and water sold I ever!” Then, with a final shriek it sank silently into a deep pond by the road-side near to the local tavern, the Bull Inn.

Arborfield, Berkshire

This went on for some time until the entire population of the village became terrified, and were compelled to take drastic action. Seven priests came out from Reading; and they brought with them a party of men who led a cart on which was laid a huge flat stone. When the spectre appeared, the priests began chanting incantations: the ancient words that would lay a ghost. Then, after the apparition had descended into the pond, the stone was lifted over the shadowy depths and lowered into the water.

No more sightings of the witch’s ghost were reported until about a hundred years later, when a party of workmen was sent to clean out the pond. After excavating it out to the bottom, they came upon the flat stone, and were about to raise it when the manager of the site approached them and pleaded for them to not to touch it, telling them that his father had been one of the men present when the ghost was put down, and if they touched the stone, the spectre would escape and renew its nocturnal wanderings. How much truth there is in the whole thing no one knows, but to this day no one in the village would dare allow the stone to be raised!

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26 thoughts on “The restless witch of Arborfield

    • Do you know I haven’t thought about Rawhead Rex for years! I must admit I haven’t read it but I did see the film. I watched it in the 80s when my friend and I formed the ‘Really Bad Video Club’ to which our remit was to search for video titles wrapped in the most sensationalist of covers. I think that’s why we chose RR one day. I remember us both saying that it fell into the category ‘so bad it’s bloody brilliant!’ 😉

      • Rawhead Rex is a classic monster movie! His eyes are crossed and in some scenes (esp. when running) it looks like his head is going to fall off. Finally able to locate it on dvd this year and was thrilled when I got it.

    • Do you know I hadn’t quite seen it in this light. But, come to think of it, it certainly does tie together several strands of dealing with these irritants that I can recall from films and prose. Great stuff!

    • Actually, I just stumbled upon it on the way to Wokingham and decided to stop and investigate. I went to the church, the memorial Cross and the Bull Inn and discovered segments of the tale which I subsequently wove together. Worth a visit!

  1. Pingback: The Curious Case of the Inspiring Blogger « The Consortium of the Curious

    • Hi Graeme,

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