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Meg Shelton the Fylde Witch

Meg Shelton (Mag Shelton or Margery Hilton) the Fylde Witch (Fylde Hag) who died in 1705 is said to be buried beneath a large boulder in the grounds of St Anne's Church, Woodplumpton. She was buried in a vertical position, head first with the boulder placed on top to prevent her from digging herself out of the grave, which apparently she had done twice previously.

By all accounts Meg was mischievous and used her occult powers to steal from the local community. One of the many stories of Meg had her stealing milk from cows in a field, but disguising her jug as a goose. The farmer did not pay much attention to Meg and her goose until her saw milk dripping from the animal’s bill. He approached the goose then gave it a good kick, at which point it transformed back into a jug and shattered, spilling all the milk that Meg had stolen. Infuriated with being caught, Meg flew away.

Meg was said to walk with a pronounced limp which was an injury she obtained whilst transformed into a rabbit. One story relating to this is incident is that she made a bet with her landlord that she could turn into a rabbit and race his dogs from Wesham to the cottage she rented in Catforth. Meg did insist that the landlord not release a large fierce black dog that he owned though as it was too dangerous. The prize for winning the race would be the cottage itself. The landlord of course set his black dog after Meg and it bit into her hind leg just as she got through the cottage door. Another version of this story has Meg as a rabbit in a field, when a farmer releases a black dog that chases her to the cottage, biting her leg. Note that some stories about Meg have her living in Singleton.

One story had a young girl outwitting Meg whilst the witch was sat in a chair in front of a fire. The girl trapped her in the chair somehow by sticking a bodkin, crossed with two weaver’s healds on her dress

On another occasion she transformed herself into a sack of corn in a farmer’s barn in order to steal food from him. The farmer however was shrewd and seeing he had one sack too many decided to stab each one with a pitchfork, just to be sure they filled with corn. Meg let out a scream, returned to her usual appearance and fled.

According to tradition she usually ate boiled groats mixed with thyme or parsley.

Meg died by being crushed to death between a barrel and a wall. Of course there were then the two attempts to dig herself from her grave, which the locals foiled by burying her head first and capping the grave with the large rock.

There is an account from the1920’s I believe about a boy who encountered a strange looking woman in the churchyard who scared him away and it was thought to be Meg’s ghost.

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