Pendle witch descendant will join Pendleside Hospice world record attempt for largest gathering of people dressed as witches

A family of possible descendants of one of the Pendle Witches will be taking part in the Pendleside Hospice Witch Festival, which is hoping to break a Guinness world record.

Launching the family-fun Witch Festival on Saturday, September 17th, will be a circular sponsored walk from the park to either Barley or Roughlee.

Stewart Nutter and his family of around 20, who originally come from the Roughlee area – the same as Alice Nutter, one of the 10 people hanged in 1612 for witchcraft – are hoping to be there.

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And during the festival it is hoped that visitors will break the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as witches – the target being 2,022 to coincide with the year.

Pendleside staff Leah Hooper, Karen Charlton and Elaine Middleton put their best feet forward for the sponsored Witch Festival walk

The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history. The twelve accused lived in the area surrounding Pendle Hill. Of the eleven who went to trial – nine women and two men – ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.

The walks set off from Barrowford at 11am and will be marshalled and signposted along the way with QR codes positioned to give historical facts about the locations en route. Colne theatre group Stage Door are performing along the way.

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Sammi Graham, Pendleside’s head of events and marketing, said: “We are urging as many people as possible to take part in the walk and support it like the Pendle pub walk in the summer.

“The walk involves countryside paths as well as the road so good footwear is essential and unfortunately some of the route won’t be accessible to wheelchairs or prams.”

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Stewart, who lives in Burnley, said: “We hope families will support the festival as we are doing. My son James should have celebrated his 30th during the Covid lockdown.

“His 32nd birthday is on the day before the festival so we thought it would be perfect for the family to join together at the festival to celebrate. Some are travelling from as far as London and Scotland so it will be a wonderful day.”

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Stewart, who is a member of the hospice lottery and regularly donates items to the Pendleside shops, hasn’t traced his family tree as far back as Alice Nutter. But he knows that his grandparents farmed land at Noggarth years ago and that his father Alan lived from being a baby in Thorneyholme Square close to Roughlee.

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The actual festival opens its doors at 1pm and there will be live bands and DJs on stage from then up to 8pm. There will also be refreshment areas, a beer tent and a gin bar, as well as a children’s area with rides.

Samantha Giles, who plays Bernice Blackstock in Emmerdale, and is taking part in the world record, will be signing copies of her children’s book Rosemary and the Pendle Witches.

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Tickets for the festival cost £15 for adults, £10 for children and concessions. There are also family tickets for £35 (two adults and two children, with £5 for extra children). Ticket prices include a witch’s hat, cloak and broomstick, entry to the festival and interactive walk and a medal for taking part.

Sponsor forms for the walk are also available. Please visit www.pendleside.org.uk/pendleside-witch-festival