Arbella Stuart & Divination

In Tudor times, divination and astrology were common practices and the casting of #horoscopes was taken very seriously. In a letter to her grandmother, Arbella Stuart (1575-1615), a claimant to Elizabeth I’s throne, mentions that she has enclosed her hair, which was cut on the “sixth day of the Moon”. This lunar precision was necessary as the hair was going to be used astrologically to cast a horoscope to foretell Arbella’s chances of becoming Queen of England.

Home Protection Sacrifice

Our ancestors left behind numerous clues in the buildings we continue to live in today of how they attempted to protect their homes and families over the last 500yrs. Like the human body, a house was believed to have vulnerable points where witches 🧙🏻‍♀️ faeries 🧚🏻‍♀️ and evil spirits 👹 could enter more easily. In Scandinavia and the Alps 🗻 venomous adders 🐍 were buried alive under thresholds to ward off unwelcome visitors, such as witches & thieves. Poor snakes!

Merry Maidens of Cornwall

1804 postcard of the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall—legend has it that these stones were once a group of young girls who, while walking in the fields on a Sunday, began to dance to the music of two pipers— who were of course evil spirits in disguise 😈—and the young dancing girls were turned to stone in a flash of lightning.⚡This stone circle is one of many examples of a common theme of revellers being turned to stone for having fun on a Sunday when they should be at church!

Horseshoes

Today, people hang horseshoes for  good luck without realising that a century or more a go they were considered powerful  apotropaics—or ‘warding away’ objects against witches. Here we have a representation of two separate traditions: because iron weapons aided the Iron Age Celts to vanquish the bronze-using peoples who proceeded them, the belief arose that iron was a powerful protection against earlier inhabitants & their gods, which in time became represented by faeries, goblins, witches ect.—therefore iron was a protection against witches. 🧙🏻‍♀️ The second tradition is connected with the  moon goddess—the horseshoe resembles a  crescent moon so a house with this talisman was under the protection of the moon goddess. 🌚🍀🤞

Moonlight Lore

In some parts of Northern England it was thought that sleeping in moonlight could make you blind, cause birth defects or alter mental health. Many thatched cottages have extra thatch extensions projecting over upstairs windows to protect moonshine from falling on sleeping inhabitants. 🌚🌜

Hag-ridden

In previous centuries nightmares were believed by some to be caused by supernatural beings. The medical condition sleep paralysis was blamed on witches It was described as being witch-ridden or hagridden – a term referenced by J.K. Rowling for the beloved character Hagrid in Harry Potter The experience is accompanied by a feeling of weight on the chest and hallucinations, which gave rise to the notion of pressing demons such as the incubus and succubus.

Audio Walk: ‘They Walked in Moonlight

They Walked in Moonlight is an audio walking experience through St George’s Gardens in London, next to the Foundling Museum, taking a journey around the gardens and graves, listening to tales of the moon as told through folklore, legends, and nursery rhymes. The narrative of the walk explores how myth and oral tradition help us process difficult themes in an accessible way. The focus is on the moon, in particular, as representative of the feminine and as a light through personal moments of darkness.

Abney Park gets crucial Heritage Lottery Fund backing!

Abney Park has been awarded a development grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery for the Abney Park Restoration Project. This initial grant, of £315,000 will see the project developed further and a second bid will be made in June next year. If successful at this second round, the project will see nearly £5 million in lottery funding dedicated to the restoration of Abney Park.

Continue reading Abney Park gets crucial Heritage Lottery Fund backing!

Abney Rambles in ‘A Small Guide to Stoke Newington’

By Andrea Gambaro

Located in the north-west corner of Hackney, Stoke Newington has been recently dragged into the rapidly expanding makeover of the East End. Nevertheless, gentrification hasn’t erased the village-like character which distinguishes “Stokey” – as it is known locally – from the typical London urban landscape.

Such character is particularly evident along Church Street, where the original hamlet developed. At its east end, the Neo-Egyptian gates mark the main entrance to Abney Park, home to one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ London cemeteries. Past the gates, the inscriptions of ancient gravestones accompany the visitor through wide avenues and narrow paths, alongside memorials, monuments and, in the middle of the park, the Gothic chapel.

Read more on Travel Mag here.

All Hallows’ Evening String Quartet in Abney Park Cemetery

‘All Hallows’ Evening String Quartet’
31st October – 8pm to 9pm (gates open 7:30pm for prompt 8pm start)

Tickets available here.

Abney Park Trust are excited to announce that The Winter Quartet will be playing a All Hallows’ Eve concert at Abney Park within the chapel. They’ll be performing some wonderful, spirited, and atmospherically thematic tunes that will be familiar to the listener, by well-known classical composers, brought to life in this performance recital. They will take you on a musical journey, exploring our fear of the unknown and our own personal demons through fantasy. Stories of mountain kings, castles, dances of marionettes, and spirits emerge as the melodies becoming more regal and majestic. The mood lightening as the dances take on a major key for a celebration before our final moment of clarity and salvation.

Continue reading All Hallows’ Evening String Quartet in Abney Park Cemetery

Folklore, legends, myths, and lost histories from the British Isles – collected by Dr Romany Reagan

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