The legend of Burslem "witch" Molly Leigh. Fact or fiction?
The paranormal is always something that has intrigued me. I'm open minded but view things with a rational and levelheaded approach. It's fair to say i'm yet to be convinced but i've certainly had experiences that i struggle to explain. This interest in the supernatural has led me to write this hub. Hope you enjoy.
Every place has it's local legends and Stoke-on-trent is no different. The most famous of these spooky stories is the tale of alleged witch Margaret Leigh (or Molly as she was known) Molly was not what you would call a nice looking person, in fact she was ridiculed by locals for being extremely ugly. This led to Molly being shunned by the people of her hometown Burslem and left isolated with her only companion a pet blackbird.
Molly was born in 1685. Rumours began to circulate not long after her birth of strange behaviour that made people believe she had certain 'capabilities' She was rumoured to be able to eat a whole crust of bread just hours after she was born and that she refused her mother's milk, instead preferring the milk of animals.
Molly suffered tradegy at a young age with the death of her parents which perhaps had a part to play in the vile temper she developed. Leigh lived in a cottage just outside Burslem and tried to make money by selling milk in the town but was often accused of watering it down.
Local parson Reverand Spencer accused Molly of witchcraft. According to Rev Spencer Molly reacted to this by sending her blackbird over to the turk's head pub (where he was at the time) The story goes that when the bird landed on the window ledge all the beer in the pub turned sour and the people inside began to suffer from rheumatism. The reverand responded by shooting at the blackbird with no success.
It is thought that Margaret Leigh died in 1748 although some believe it was two years earlier. After her death the townsfolk descended on Molly's cottage. Some say it was to loot the property and some say it was to kill the blackbird who was causing a nuisance around the town. When they got there it is said that they were met by a figure of Molly knitting by the fire in a rocking chair. Some say she was muttering the words “Weight and measure sold I never, Milk and water sold I never”.
The terrified locals took drastic action. They excavated Molly's grave and buried her trusty blackbird (still alive) with her. Some reports suggest they drove a stake through her heart to make sure she was dead. After the excavation Molly's body was positioned differently to the other surrounding ones. Instead of facing in the usual east-west direction which is the norm for a Christian burial she was turned to face North-South. The tomb stands in the same place today. It's easy to spot as it's the only tomb in the whole cemetary that is facing a different way.
The size of Molly's tomb often creates debate. The expense of such a thing could not have been met by herself so the question is "Who paid for it and why?" Today kids dare each other to run around Molly's grave chanting "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, you can't catch me" although there are different versions of it such as "chase me around the apple tree" or "chase me into all the holes i see" It is said that if you do this three times then the spirit of Molly will appear.
So that's the legend of Molly Leigh. Now i'm certain some things have been lost in translation over the years but there is still enough visual evidence to question whether this legend is in fact true. Do you believe in local legends? Do you have any of you own to tell me? Or have you ever experienced anything paranormal? It would be great to hear from you. Thanks for reading.
Why not check out my other hubs if you have the time?
Do you believe there is any truth to the legend of Molly Leigh?
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