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  • Writer's picturemysteriesofmercia

By Wicked Practise & Sorcery

Henry and Francis Manners, sons of the 6th Earl of Rutland, immortalised forever in alabaster in the church at the Leicestershire village of Bottesford. The skull Henry holds signifies that they died before their father - with witchcraft given as the official cause of death.

They stand at the side of an enormous memorial to their father that features an exhaustive list of the Earl's achievements, marriages and many official titles but one phrase stands out in particular. "...both dyed in their infancy by wicked practise and sorcerye." This then is the only written reference to witchcraft inside a church in Britain.

They lived and died at their father's seat of Belvoir Castle, with two accused "witches" going to the gallows while their mother choked to death on a consecrated piece of bread in an attempt to clear her name.

I tell the full tale of Joan, Margaret and Phillipa Flowers, the Belvoir witches, in my new book The Magic Of Mercia, available at

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