BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
HampshireHampshire

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Hampshire
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Hampshire

Dorset
Wiltshire

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

tiny
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002 16:24
Broomsticks in Burley
tiny
Shop sign
The witch shop sign in Burley
tiny Burley is one of the New Forest's most picturesque villages, but behind the postcard image, there lies a secret past - BBC Southampton's Simon Marks investigated ...
tiny
tiny
SEE ALSO
tiny
Faith index

Witchcraft today

Halloween history

Witch-chat

Quizzes index
tiny
tiny
PRINT THIS PAGE
tiny
View a printable version of this page.
tiny
Get in contact
tiny


The village of Burley has several gift shops specialising in witchcraft but why are they there?

In the 1950s a woman called Sybil Leek lived in Burley with her pet Jackdaw. She became a TV reporter but primarily claimed to be a witch.

Witch doll
A witch doll

Sybil had lived with gypsies and gained an excellent knowledge of the New Forest.

She was recognised as an expert on forest ways and wrote several books on the subject. She also named a witchcraft shop, "A Coven of Witches".


After her television success in Britain, Sybil went to live in America where her popularity continued. She died in 1982 but her son, Julian, is constructing a building in Florida to house her memorabilia and many of her students practice witchcraft to this day.

Sybil talking to BBC reporter Hugh Moran in a 1964 interview.
Sybil Leek




Sybil was by no means the only Forest witch. Gerald Gardner, a retired civil servant from Christchurch, claimed to have been initiated into a coven of New Forest witches in 1939 by Dorothy Clutterbuck, or "old Dorothy" as she was known.

Gardner wrote several books on modern witchcraft, or Wicca, and sparked a revival of "the old religion" which became known as Gardnerian Wicca.

As interest in witchcraft grew during the early 60s, Gardner became a respected spokesperson for Pagans. The press referred to him as "Britain's Chief Witch".


The exact practices of Gardner's coven were kept secret but they are reported to have attempted to prevent a German invasion during World War II by going down to the beach and sending out a "cone of power".

Whether the spell worked or not is debatable but the invasion never came! Gerald Gardner died in 1964.

Shopkeeper, Jenny Tucker owns and runs "A Coven of Witches"
Jenny Tucker - Shopkeeper

According to locals there are still white witches in the forest but they live quietly and prefer to detach themselves from the typical broomstick and pointed hat image.

Many like to adopt the term "Hedgewitch", meaning a witch who works alone rather than as part of a group, or coven.

The shop named by Sybil Leek has been owned by Jenny Tucker for the past 21 years. According to Jenny trade is good. Indeed several similar shops have opened in Burley:
"We sell quite a few books nowadays but our best seller is spells, which are made by Hedgewitches."

Among the many strange wares on her shelves are spells, which come in bottles and with
full instructions.


 
tiny
line
tiny
Top | New Forest Index | Home
tiny
tiny
tiny
Also in features
tiny

Also in New Forest
Tiny gif
New Forest history

Tiny gif
New Forest Show 2004
Tiny gif
Webguide
Tiny gif
Wildlife in the Forest
Tiny gif
E-cards
Tiny gif
New Forest quiz
Tiny gif
Forest Life art
Tiny gif
Forest witches

Tiny gif
Brusher Mills

Tiny gif
Commoners

Tiny gif
Forest folk

Tiny gif
Hunting debate

Tiny gif
Witch chat

tiny
What's on
tiny

Films
Latest Reviews

Film festival

Film Finder


Location South


tiny
Webcams
tiny
Contact Us
BBC Southampton Website
Broadcasting House,
Havelock Road,
Southampton
SO14 7PU
(+44) 023 80 374370/1/2
southampton@bbc.co.uk



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy