Mistley Village Pond
The following extract is from an article by Emily Talbut entitled ‘The 14 most haunted places in Essex to visit this Hallowe’en’ which was published on 13 October 2014 in the Essex Chronicle. Referring to Manningtree, Emily writes: ‘Home to legendary 17th century ‘Witch Finder General’ Matthew Hopkins, it is thought he and his assistant ‘Witch Pricker, John Sterne’ sent up to 400 souls to their deaths – 19 of whom were hung.
The old, one-legged animal lover Elizabeth Clarke was his first victim, accused of nourishing five animals through having unnatural teats. Other methods Hopkins used included pricking – puncturing the skin of victims looking for areas that didn’t bleed, acting as the mark of the devil. The swimming method was also used where the individual was bound and thrown in a pond – if they did not sink they were a witch, though of course all tests resulted in the victims drowning.
Hopkins was buried at Mistley Heath and his spectre is said to appear at full moon by the village pond, a scene of many of his witch trials. He is also said to haunt Hopping Bridge, the Mistley Thorn Hotel, The White Hart Inn and The Red Lion.