Spectral dog named Dandy linked to Pendle Witches to be unveiled at Booths in Clitheroe

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A sculpture of a ‘spectral dog’ named Dandy and linked to the Pendle Witches is to be unveiled in Clitheroe.

This marks the end of a long journey which began with the artist’s idea to tell the story of the Pendle Witches in a new way, in Clitheroe town centre, through a piece of public art.

Its creator, Dutch-born, Lancashire based sculptor Marjan Wouda, was inspired by accounts such as the one made by young James Device during his trial in 1612, of “familiar spirits”. James confessed to having a familiar in the form of a black dog whom he named Dandy. In those days it was believed that witches were attended by a supernatural spirit; often said to assume the form of an animal.

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Dandy connects Clitheroe to its landscape, sitting as it does in the shadow of Pendle Hill. And Clitheroe Castle itself is very likely to have played a part in the story as a stop-over for those on their way to Lancaster Gaol. Margaret Pearson, one of the 12 accused in 1612, who is also referred to as the Padiham Witch, was sentenced for bewitching a horse and made to stand upon the pillory in Clitheroe on four successive market days.

Marjan Wouda with DandyMarjan Wouda with Dandy
Marjan Wouda with Dandy

Marjan said: “Our stories are a testament to those intertwined lives, and here in Lancashire we have many, from giant cows and cats to talking hares and dogs. The Dandy sculpture invites us to celebrate what makes this town, in this landscape setting, unique.”

Booths supermarket have supported the idea of a sculpture for Clitheroe from the outset by offering a location as well as funding towards its installation.

Edwin Booth, chairman of Booths, said: “My family has a history in Lancashire stretching back over 200 years and we value the heritage of our county. It is our hope that the story of Dandy will provide interest and enjoyment to local families and visitors to Clitheroe.”

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Clitheroe and Ribble Valley residents and businesses have brought Dandy to life through a crowdfunding campaign led by Clitheroe’s Chamber of Commerce.

The scheme has been coordinated by a group of local enthusiasts who attracted further funds from: Lancashire County Council, Clitheroe Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Clitheroe Town Council, Houldsworth Solicitors, Hargreaves Contracting, Anderton Bosonnet Estate Agents, Arts Council England, Ribble Valley Borough Council, Clitheroe Civic Society, and many other organisations and individuals.

Besides securing the sculpture for the town and covering all expenses related to the installation, the crowdfund has commissioned an education pack to be distributed to local schools, and publicity material to encourage tourists to seek it out.

The sculpture will be unveiled on Thursday May 16th on Station Road, up the steps from Booths’ Clitheroe store.

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Tour guide and local storyteller, Simon Entwistle, said: “To my knowledge, this is the only public sculpture representing a familiar. The belief that ‘cunning folk’ were assisted by a spiritual creature in the form of a man, or an animal, is key to the Pendle Witches’ story. Representing this in the form of a sculpture is a wholly original way of engaging people with it.”

A group from Ella Shaw’s Academy of Art will perform a poem on the night, especially written by local poet Alison McNulty to give “voice to the dog”.

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