Cradley in 1848 had its own local witch, casting spells over butchers and boilers
On Wednesday 26 July 1848, the Wolverhampton Chronicle printed the following report:
There is now living at Cradley, near Stourbridge, a woman who professes to have the power of witchcraft. A short time ago she greatly terrified a neighbouring butcher by declaring that within a given time he would fall from his horse and break his neck, and such was his credulity that he gave her two shillings and sixpence to induce her to change or remove the spell that hung over him. At the latter end of last week the wretch threw the whole neighbourhood into the greatest consternation by asserting that a large steam engine boiler would burst at the British Company's Ironworks, Corngreaves, the result of which was that numbers of people residing in the vicinity of the works left the neighbourhood, in order to avoid the destruction which would have resulted from such a catastrophe, and on the same account several persons engaged in the works were induced to absent themselves during the day.
The Cradley Witch, or 'Ode Magic', is said to have lived in a stone cottage near the old Manor House in Blue Ball Lane, not far from a place called Dungeon Head, or "Dungel Yed" as Cradley folk would say, in the High Street (now Colley Lane).
There stood a dungeon and the village stocks, both demolished in about 1850, and also an upping stone used by horse riders to mount their horses. This stone is believed to be the one from which John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached when he visited Cradley in 1770, and which is now in the High Town Ragged School.
According to handed-down stories, the old woman used to stand by the stone, pestering and threatening passing horsemen, some of whom gave her silver to protect them on their journey. Others refused to give her money, and were threatened with disaster.
Many local people must have been in awe or fear of the Cradley Witch. Even after the Corngreaves episode reported in the newspaper clipping here, in the following year she used the same empty threat on the iron workers of Cradley Forge. Apparently, she threatened that during the coming week she would cause the bursting of the works boilers and only those who crossed her palm with silver would be safe. Many workers gave her their hard earned money, but the works were nevertheless closed for a full week in case the worst should happen.
The Cradley Witch by Wilfred Williams, Black Country Bugle No. 64, July 12, 1977
Wolverhampton Chronicle, Wednesday 26 July 1848
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