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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > Molly Leigh - the witch of Burslem

Tomb of Molly Leigh

Molly's tomb, as it is today

Molly Leigh - the witch of Burslem

Everybody who lives in the north part of Stoke on Trent knows the legend of Molly Leigh (not Lee!). Her strangely-shaped grave and tombstone can still be seen to this day. Sue Lightwood has written an account of Molly's life for us....

I researched this story some years ago and found the following information, though maybe down the years some legends have got mixed up with the facts!
Hopefully it will interest readers who may want to go on to find more info...

*****************

Margaret Leigh was born in Burslem, which is now one of the Six Towns of the Potteries, about 1685.
Sadly, Margaret, or Molly (sometimes Molly Lee) as she was known, was ugly.  Very ugly.  And in those days, this led to her being shunned, then alone, and then becoming notorious as the witch of Burslem.   She never married.

Poor Molly.

Witch?

There were allegations from the start about her strangeness.  it's said she had an adult mind and abilities from birth.  "Evidence" for this came from the story that she was able to eat a hard crust of bread just a few hours after being born; and that she refused her mother's milk, to suckle farm animals instead.

Ostracised because of her deformities, and possibly friendless too, she seemed to have developed a vicious temper as she grew older.  
And was it the need for a friend that also made her train a blackbird (though some say it was a jackdaw) ... which became her companion, being tame to her call....?
Or was she really a witch?

It's clear that the atmosphere of the time thus led created a sequence of events which would lead eventually to some bizarre happenings one midnight in Burslem churchyard.

Molly grows up

More difficulties came to her.

Her parents died when she was young, and she had to earn her living quickly - which she did by taking milk into the town and shouting out her wares. 
She became a well-known, if unliked figure - and she was constantly accused of watering down the milk.

Her cottage was some distance from the town, at Hamil Grange (then known as the Jack-field) in the middle of the forest then in that part of the area. 
So, shunned there by others, strange rumours  emerged.. especially of the hawthorn bush outside the cottage on which her pet blackbird was to be found - a bush they said, which never produced blossom!

But now Molly made a bad enemy.

Enemy

Parson Spencer, Rector of Saint John's Church in Burslem accused her of rarely attending church.  In those days, everyone went.
And he declared her - for her refusal - a witch.

And things now got out of hand.
The Rector was known to spend some time at The Turk's Head, and the blackbird appeared there one day.  Apparently, immediately the beer in the pub turned sour and gave all the customers rheumatism! 
In fury, Parson Spencer shot at the bird, which simply flew off - unhurt.   Poor Parson Spencer then claimed an attack of stomach pains - which kept him to his bed for the next few weeks.

It's not clear how things developed now.  Perhaps in such a small community, the strength of either side in this dispute was recognised , and a grudging stalemate came about.

Death and burial - and reburial

But the final irony came when Molly died in April 1748 (some say 1746).

It was the same Parson Spencer who laid her to rest in St John's churchyard.   But the good townsfolk had concerns - was this witch really dead?  Their concerns were even greater when the blackbird started to make a nuisance of itself in the town.

Apparently, with a little drink inside them, they paid a visit to Molly's cottage in the woods.  And what they saw astonished them.
Afterwards, witnesses swore blind (or blind drunk!) that Molly had been sitting there by the fire - knitting, with her bird - as in real life.
Unsurprisingly, they did not stop to talk to her.

The story now gets to its oddest part.

Parson Spencer decided that her spirit must be quieted, and chose a strange way to do it.   In the dead of night, the reverend returned to the churchyard with colleagues to perform the rite to silence her ghost.
This was done by opening up the grave, where the now-captured bird was placed in with her - still alive.
Then her body was moved.  Instead of lying in an east-west direction, normal for Christian burial, it was turned, into a north-south direction.
Some historians claim a stake was driven through her heart - but this is more likely to be a product of a modern writer influenced too much by horror films!

Questions remain

But questions remain.

Why did Parson Spencer turn her body?   The rite of laying-the-spirit should have been enough.  So why did he not trust his judgement?
It is very unusual to see a body turned like this in any other churchyard.

Second, even today, in St John's churchyard, Molly's grave can be seen, and it is easy to spot.  It's the large tomb (it's some four feet high) lying in the different axis to all the others.  But who paid for such an expensive tomb?   Molly herself would not have had money to speak of.
Interestingly, the Pagan Association offered to pay for a railing round the grave - an offer that the Church of England didn't know how to react to!

Thirdly, Sybil Leek, a self-declared witch and associate of the Satanist Aleister Crowley, once visited Burslem (possibly in the 1940s or 50s?), and walked round the town with a jackdaw on her shoulder, claiming descent from Molly Leigh.
But, though Sybil claimed to have born in Staffordshire, and therefore could have been a descendant,  it's been very hard to trace her birth records.  What is the truth?

Finally, the legend is that if, at Halloween, you dance around her grave and sing "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, you can't catch me" her apparition will appear.   But who would know?   Did someone actually see her after performing this incantation?
Is Molly still not at peace?

If you know the answer to any of these remaining questions or have any more material about Molly... please use the messageboard!

last updated: 28/10/2009 at 18:22
created: 03/03/2006

Have Your Say

Your thoughts about our story....?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

gemma and cassie
we think people treated her badly and because she was a bit different they made up stories about her. its a good thing people have learnt more in these days or there would be more silly stories made up and more dead people wouldnt be able to r.i.p just because they where different.....

bethany houghton
I thought if u say 'molly leigh molly leigh chase me round the apple tree' 3 times she chases u. But now it's the grave i think we should leave her alone and lave her in peace, like we all should be when we die. So leave her alone and stop making stories up about her and her life. margaret leigh

leonie paige gilbride
Well actually every 1 at my school Moorpark - they all believe she is in the bell tower.

paul
ive been to molly lieghs grave a few times and i think that people should leave her alone start showing some respect to her grave i think it should have the rails put back around it to protect her tomb its been vandalised and i think it is wrong people would be scared if they did see her or her image appear when they were doing this stupid chant

sammie
i think that the story is mixed up as i know the truth about molly liegh she was a very kind women and she was accused of being mean and evil and as for the people who had a fews drinks b4 going to the grave yard they are lucky to see her as molly had to be re buried at least 3 or 4 times as she kept on rising so they had to burie her the opposite way they had to burie her up side down so she would not rise agen so i think everyone should leave her in peace R.I.P

britt
i think that molly leigh might have been a nice woman i do not beleive that she was a witch and as i visit her grave every halloween i think that she should be able to rest in peace now. I think that people were cruel to her because of her looks but looks arent everything. RIP molly.

carol
molly leigh was actually a wealthy woman who died at the age of 28, it has been suggested that she had Down syndrome, hence.. her disfigured face, plus the age of 28. She made her money selling hay and straw for the roofs of the properties of the time, also growing herbs.She left money to the poor of burslem village more than what the "parson did" If she was a certified which she would not have gone in a christion grave yard. In the 16 hundreds people listened to the parsons plus being superstitious was and still is in the catholic faith a sin.. as before refermation it was a catholic church...So mr Parson you were a priest not a parson in todays time any way call yourself a man of god well may god forgive you and shame on you for leaving such a cruel lagacy on this lady....

Lourdes Kirby
do current self described witches place things at right angles to feel safe or feel ownership of that home?I am curious since I find drinking glasses, shoes & other articles placed at right angles throughout my friend's house. It is odd behaviour by his female friend.

wishcard
she may have been ugly and unfriendly due to mean people but shes the one thats remembered, i bet she had a good chuckle about that when she died and stood over her grave in spirit. Good on ye Mollie, RIPxXx

Christine Robbins.
I was born in Burslem and played around Molly's grave as a child. We thought that if we chanted "Molly Lee can't catch me for a monkey up a tree" whilst running around the grave that she would come out and hit us with her knitting needles so we ran like mad once we had said it.We were told that she was a witch and also a money-lender.

becky
I think that this is a huge problem that cannot be solved! i mean what if this lady was just trying to live her life like all those other people. she proberly lived in the woods because of those people and she had a lonely life without her parents there. i mean again we all proberly know a 'wierdo' who lives by thereself andwonders around well i know one and she isnt very attractive and does wierd things but we dont call her a whitch! like the bird thing it could of just had a wierd disease or something and it spread. there's 99.9% explenation for these things. however it could be true !

crissybxx
Blessed Be, Molly Leigh x

leonie burton
wow that is weird because when me and my friend Chelsea went to St Johns church on Sunday we went and sat on Molly lees grave and we sang the song but nothing happened why don't people just leave her alone she was just a little old lady rip molly lee

Reine
Ive been researching about Stoke-on-Trent ghosts, and honestly, this is one of teh strangest. I doubt the saying is true, that you will see her apparition but it would be interesting to find out. Some of us are influenced by our decendants and their lagacies but there is no way to prove them wrong- or right. Personally, I dont think she was a 'witch' and I may visit her grave and give her flowers, she had a hard life. She deserves them.

tracy
i think the legand is fasinating i live near to burslem and av always been interested in the legand. i heard that she was a medicine women as well.

Angel
I think it is appaling that a Christian Parson could be so cruel to Molly and to the blackbird. If Molly Leigh was shunned because of her appearance then no wonder she developed a bad temper as a form of defence. She was kind to birds and presumably the cows she made her living from. If people thought she was evil why did they buy her milk? I think Molly may have been lonely or bitter and she would have a right to be. The people of Burslem should give her some respect and let her rest in peace. RIP Molly Leigh and RIP the poor blackbird.

Sarah
Just one little thing : Aleister Crowley wasn't a Satanist he was an occultist there's a big difference.

Josh
Well, the ghost is disturbed and so has a problem. The problem could be that she was accused of a witch. Another suggestion could be of that she was buried by the priest who accused her and wants to find him. The best option is that to stay away from graveyards at night unless you have a reason e.g. ghost hunting.

lauren
I personal think that she had a strange life and brought up on her own and she never married witch probley made it worse

lisa everton
I like "key" words. I took the ancient grave saying, which lies over Molly Leigh's grave. "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, Come play with me." The key word here is "play." A child reference. There is also a story which goes with the saying, that you should skip around the grave, as your reciting it. Key word "Skip" is another reference to children. It is my belief that Molly Leigh is taking children to this day. The beauty of the trap being, you have to stop children playing around this grave, and reciting this saying. This saying is well known, in the locality of the grave. I bet thousands of children have skipped around that grave, whispering this saying, over the years...I wonder what it is, that she is doing with these children? In short, this graveside saying, is an invitation for children, to play with the witch! Key words ROCK!

millie
Hey listen to this molly leigh is actully very famours people dont know what she looks like as shes famours i would think she would be ok by the way her house is actullymu school wich is moorpark junior school

Dawn
i feel so sad that people could not let this poor lady to rest and as for a priest to do such a thing to say he is meant to be the follower of christ its decusting thank god life has changedd that poor woman

strawbs
Brilliant, i love anything creepy like this and i had breifly heard of a witch in Burslem, although maybe in them days they classed her as a witch when really she was just a bit odd, there are alot of odd people in this world now! However a truly good read and maybe i might go and visit the grave one day but i have enough respect to not go jumping on any graves, i'l leave that to the stokey kids!

Amy Sheppard
so is she a witch... or is it all fake?... i hope shes never to be disturbed...

megan
do you know at all how she looked because one of my friends says she was tall slim and had black hair is this true???

Georgia
Did Molly Lee ever have a sister?

Emily hankey
Hiya i am 11 years old and i have none the story about molly leigh for at least 5 years now and i think that she wasnt a witch but that she was just a lovley lady that may of looked like a witch but wasnt n i feel sorry for her because no one loved her and she didnt have a family to help her along her dark n sad life . u shouldnt judge people for been a witch just because they look like one . xx

Dan
my dad told me the story and i didnt believe him untill one of my friends told me that wen he danced around the grave singing moll leigh molly leigh you cant catch me a really ugly woman appeared about 5 meters from the grave and did you know a band called grace wrote a song about it

Dom
Having researched this many times, and living in the stoke-on-trent area, i am lead to believe that parson spencer decided that a larger tomb laid and a different axis to the other would best keep the witch secure, his reasons being that the tomb laid at this angle meant the church would be able to keep watch on her, and the strong thick concrete of the tomb would hold her in, he blessed the tomb many times after the funeral, hoping that it would prevent her from escaping, the tomb was designed more as a prison than a resting place

emily-jane
i have been studying molly leigh for AS performance studies and i have found this information very helpful. Thank you.

kyra oaks
why did molly die ??

Ron Bailey
"Finally, the legend is that if, at Halloween, you dance around her grave and sing "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, you can't catch me" her apparition will appear. But who would know? Did someone actually see her after performing this incantation?"I tried this as an 11 year old in 1953, but I remained alone in Burslem churchyard. There are or were some other fascinating graves in the churchyard.

Jess & Becky
Hi, we have just got back from visiting Molly Leigh's grave (about 40 minutes ago). There was an atmosphere there the whole time, we heard a creaking at the door directly behing her grave, like someone was trying to turn the handle. What's more, as we were leaing the churchyard, we felt a strange force pushing us out by the small of our backs. The other person we had with us happened to touch the grave, and about one minute after, we got a call from home telling us that all of the electricity had just cut off. We did a lot of filming whilst we were there, at one point we see a light flicker in the same doorway we heard the creaking. We think this legend may just be true!

A*
i hate molly leigh!! the work we do on her in gcse is hard ...

hol
we went to the tomb on halloween this year (2008)and there was a party in the church... my dad just wanted to show us... and a man came out of the church...very defensive about the burial and molly leighs so called.'rumour' of being a witch...he said that she paid alot of money to be buried the opposite way... and that she was very religious and left all of her money to the church...but if she was so religious why would she want for her grave to be turned the opposite way?

lauryn craig
when was the axact date her birth an death? did her parants death cause problems? did she make any freind's but the black bird? when the axact date of the patents death and birth? why did people call her a witch? do people still vist her house? is the house still staning ? how did you get the imfomaitoin and where can i get some infomatoin? why was it the law to go to chutch the bt not now?????????????????

K
My mother used to own the Mitre public house near the church yard and we were told that she had been dragged through the cellar along a passageway to the grave site. Whether this is true or not, that Cellar was always colder at one end and i heard some very strange noises down there as well as in the pub itself.

Richie Green
I have actually visited Molly's grave in Burslem cemetery. It is obvious that it faces a different direction from the other graves and is quite eerie. I didn't do the dance around and sing the song though; I didn't have the bottle!

abbie & holly (sisters who read this)
why can't you leave her alone so if she drank cows milk and made friends with a bird who cares shes just a girl and wanted to live her life as normal and her perants died when she was young

Buddha the Crab
Yawn, this old story again? You can go anywhere in the land and hear versions of the same silly story - maybe a different character name or a different location. Can't people spot a piece of 'playground' spookiness when they see it? Come on everyone - Let's grow up!

helen and annie
The story that i have just read is what i feel and believe to be true. I have also heard as being from burslem that mollie lee normal sits in the rocking chair in the graveyard at midnight until 12:15am everynight with a black cat on her lap, stroking the cat. This is because i feel that her spirt could not be laid to rest due to the fact that i have been told that she wanted to prove that she was not a witch, just a kindly old woman who wants the truth to be told. We have heard since we were small children that mollie lee was not a witch but a kindly old lady who took in cats, mainly black cats from off the streets and she was called a witch because she always cooked in a big black pot for her and all her cats. Mollie lee never come out of her grave unless at the times that i have heard to chase people away or if she comes out she sits there in her rocking chair laughing at the people that do this, all she wants is for her real story to be told and for people to remove her name as being prosicuted as being a witch. From old town tales Mollie lee never had children due to the fact that nobody would admit to being around her and she was never married and in them days, she would have been admitted to a mental hospital for getting pregant out of wed-lock. Also i have heard that Mollie lee would help all those that needed her, kinda like a doctor or herboligist in her day, but alot less expensive than doctors were back then and she was never acknolaged for this.

zoe
its so spooky ive been to her grave the odd thing is that her grave is the only one which faces the other way round where as the others all face vertically.

SHEZZRRR
Ive lived in stoke all my life about 3miles away from burslem cemetary. Nothing too spooky about Mollys grave in the cold light of day, even so i would never push my luck. My english teacher told us the story of Molly Leigh at primary school and i still remember the chant to this day. Not quite as predictable as some other versions, and is to be chanted at midnight in the cemetary, "Follow me, Molly Leigh, into all the holes i see". Holes refers to the other graves in the cemetary.

Chris
I just called my sister to wish her merry Christmas and started talking about what we'd both been doing. Since I live in the USA and she lives in the UK we don't talk much.I'm big into the paranormal because of something that happened to me when I was 8 years old and I told her that I had been to Waverly Hills Sanitorium, and the Bell Witch Cave. She then asked if I was aware we were related to Margaret Lee or Molly Leigh. Apparently, her cousin married a wedgewood which we are descended from.I want to research this further, because it is a story which intregues me.

Nicola Bentley
Daughter of William Enoch Bentley below and therefore also a descendant of Molly Leigh. I also have the mark of the horns of the goat as do my son and daughter, but to a lesser degree. My sisters and I were taken to Molly's grave site as children and danced round the grave reciting the rhyme. My younger sister adding, "...you'd have to come a long way, we live in London!"My own interests lie in Computers so in Molly's time I might be called a "witch" conjuring images from the aether.

Rebecca Leigh
William Enoch Bentley, if your mother was a Leigh then there's a good chance that she could be related to my father, who is also a Leigh. Just out of curiosity, how are you related to her? I mean, do you know exactly how you are related to her? And if so, how did you find out? Burselm Parish? A long-dated family tree? Or just word of mouth? I need answers, because I wish to find out whether I am related to her or not. If you read this, then please reply as soon as possible.

William Enoch Bentley
I am a direct descenant of eMolly Leigh. My mother was a Leigh, and all of our family have the mark of the horns of the Goat. The forefingers of both hands veer away at the first joint when placed together, making the shape of the horns of a goat. Incidentally the rhyme as recorded here is wrong. The children would dance around her grave at all times of the year, and call out "Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, three times round I've circled thee. Now get up and frighten me" My mother and uncles did this often and , of course, she never appeared.It is fortunate that she lived in the Age of the Enlightment when witches were not persecuted with the same religuous zeal as in the previous century.Do I believe Molly Leigh was a witch? The man is a fool who is not prepared to beieve in anything, but he is a bigger fool who would believe in everything

Tony.
Margaret(Molly)Leighs family were yeoman farmers and people of means.Molly had a smallholding in the Jackfield area an which she kept cattle whos milk she sold in Burslem after its is said adding water a common practice in those days.She was an accomplished herbalist and with the money she made from the milk and medicines pluse the rent from other land she owned she lived fairly comfotably but she never married as she was apparantly rather ugly and had a deformity of some sort.It seems that her cottage stood on land that is now houses and the moorpark school when Hamil road was just a cart track and she got branded a witch after refusing to attend the church services of Thomas Spencer who saw this as an insult and started a hate campaign against her although people may have thought her a witch because of her deformity and skill at herbalism as the rest of the story seems pretty well known i will not bore you with it but to my mind Molly was what is known as a wise woman or one of the cunning folk and would today be known as a white or hedge witch.The trough in front of her grave is from another site and was put there at a later date.and she died of naural causes not by hanging or burning as some seem to think.

Alex (stoke-on-trent)
Im just up the road from Burslem,i dont beleive that molly leigh was a witch-She does have some connection with the Leopard Inn in Burslem! On most haunted they were looking at The leopard inn for the halloween special- she would of been i nthe hotel part of the leopard which was upstairs. My mums mum used to run the leopard, so when my mum was younger she looked around and felt some kind of presence! On most haunted they said that molly would have been walking through little pathways in the walls of the leopard, but they are sealed up now!xx tra xx

Rebecca Leigh
What samie said is a bunch of lies! Being a possible descendant of Molly Leigh, I have researched her life as much as I possibly can, and found out enough information to know how she died. She was not hung in Burslem town hall. Everyone knows that, and just because she is dead doesn't believe that her memory isn't! Most people and most definately history will agree with me that she died naturally. Possibly a disease or old age took her life, but it was definately not an execution. Just making sure that you get your facts right!

Sorsha
is the rumour true that if you go to her grave on halloween and sing 'molly leigh, molly leigh, chese me around the apple tree' he grave turns around

B
The story is very much like I have always been told.My parents live in Leigh Street in Burslem and that is named after Molly Leigh as her house was suppose to be in the same area. I know that the houses must have been built on the fields as there until a few years ago a very old majastic sycamore tree standing there.

emma
Hi, a lot of people have been asking where about in Burslem Molly's cottage was. I have been told that it was on the same site as where Port Vale's football pitch is today, so hope that helps the people who were wondering where it was. I have a question too, can anyone tell me what that unusual concrete coffin like thing is supposed to be, its near Molly's grave in the churchyard. Thanks!

Bret
Looking at these comments Molly must have cursed the townsfolk to have illiterate offspring for ten generations.As for the story... Molly may have just been a woman subjected to social torture and the small minded crimes that all people inflict on those that are different. The reverend was likely a foul man who attacked her for political reasons rather than any fear of witchcraft, but this isnt the first or last time the christian church ruined someone's life.

sam
For one the chant is rong. It's Molly Leigh, Molly leigh, chase us into every hole i see. And for a matter of fact she was not a witch. She was young and naive and just wanted every one to understand her that she ment know harm to any body. And the only reson why people where saying they where suffering with illnesses was just because they had nothing else better to so they decided to call her a witch and say she tried to poison them. so in spite of what they where saying, she did poison them because she was fed up and had enough of been bullyed. And if she was a witch she wouldnt be dead.

Ian
The story of Molly Leigh is a very interesting local legend. I've heard the story about the ritual of dancing round her grave, now I'm not entirely convinced about the existence of ghosts and witchcraft but this is one thing I wouldn't like to do! I'm sure it is just a myth but I wouldn't want to tempt fate and have a witch cursing me for the rest of my life! Stoke-on-Trent contains some unusual graves, there is one in Wolstanton cemetery still visible today with a very strange epitaph which reads (along the lines of): "It was G.S.B.W that brought me to my end but dear parents mourn not for me as God wyll stand my fryend. With half a pynt of Poyson he came to visit me. Wryte thys on my grave so that all that read it may see" Sinister or what?

gemma
my thoughts is that this is proposterous because i am doing this in history and that the reverin spencer called her a witch just because she called him a drunk. this is stupid anyway there is no such thing as ghosts, gouls or witchcraft. i hope that someday i will hear the real story about molly-leigh and that i hope to visit her grave someday just to see what it would be like to see something historical of what i am learning at school!!

carol
i went to jackfield scholl as a child,as kids we were told that there was a house that she lived in,right opposite the school entrance,and we used to chant molly leigh chace us round the apple tree,

jodie
hi i think this story was very good.I am interested in witchcraft and to know we have a local witch is great.Molly Leigh's cottage used to also be at the top of my road.

Beckie
I have been given the task to write a speech about molly leigh, and then go on to perform a dance/drama/music related piece about molly leigh and other people buried around her gravestone!I found this sight very helpful and insightful, thank you!xx

Rachel
I think because people didn't know much in those days, they didn't think that Molly Leigh looked ugly just because she may of had an illness. I dont't think she was a witch, but there's something about her and the bird that's is strange, could they talk to eachother???

Carol
As a child I lived in Anna St, now Anna Walk. We used to run aroun Molly's grave chanting Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, chase me round the apple tree, you can't cath me, . We only ran around it twice, because we were told if we ran around it three times, Molly would 'come and get us'. I think that typically in those days, if you were different, you were feared or labelled a witch.

Stawny
I think on whole judging by a lot of comments here and with modern day technology allowing us to understand real history it's not Molly who was strange in anyway here but our ever so do gooding Parson.. Another example of the great caring christianity towards those who do not follow the herd.

Claire Trotter
hi there, i think your story is great!spot on to all the research i've done. i must addmit though, it's been vertually impossible to find any information on molly! considering she's such a legend, not many people know the facts, or not many facts are printed!! it seems to be all hearsay, which is a shame. the one thing i've always wanted to know, and have never been able to find out, is the exact location of molly leigh's cottage? i would love to visit the spot. it's such a shame that the cottage has been demolished, what a piece of history to destroy! i've heard several story's about the whereabouts of mollys cottage. e.g port vale grounds, firestation etc. but i cant find any evidence to back either of these storys. if you come across anything, it would be much appricated if you could let me know. thanks

jessica
me again i heard a story that 1 boy said the famous rhyme got tapped on the shoulder ran off got stuck in the gate and had a panic attack and died is this true??

Lucy
Interestingly when I was a tot in the early 70s there was a jackdaw that followed my mum everywhere... does this make her a witch? I think not. Narrow minded people have always caused ridicule towards the more unusual folks - it still goes on today, but thankfully not quite so intensely.

jeff lewis
i used to play around molly's grave when i was a kid,on dark nights we run through the grave like greyhounds when taking a short cut from church street to whats now anna walk,does anyone remember the grave stone by the other door on the norman tower im sure it had an inscryption on it in verse about a man name brown who went up town,got shot through the head and fell down dead????????there was also a tunnel from the church to the mytre pub in pit street an escape route for the priest i believe,i would like to hear some comments on this,regards jeff (burslem born and bred.)

Dumb and Dumber
My mum told me that you ran round her grave chanting "molly leigh, molly leigh, chase me round the cemetry" three times and her spirit apears.

Diva_PVFC
Being a potteries girl born and bred, it seems to me like Molly was just a lass who had a bit of bad luck. Or even if she wasn't, she's not causing anybody any problems. It just seems quite sad that a dusty old tomb in the corner of St. Johns is still the subject of scorn and speculation, beibg labelled a "magical place" and such. In the 1600s, any person who didn't conform to normal standards was automatically a "witch" or a "heathen". And even if she was a witch... so what? Witch or no, She still came from the Mother Town, and therefore, she's ours. She should be acknowledged and respected as a true patron of the Mother Town...which perhaps is the most magical place of all.

Greycat
Poor woman.

Kirst
ive seen the grave as i live in burslem and its very strange. i have a book on staffordshire mysteries and it says that sometimes if you go down to the grave yard you will see blackbirds sitting on her tomb....ive seen them flying above it but not on it!

jeanette meir
my son and i visited molly's grave a few months ago . he is only 12 yrs old but knows all about molly ,which i think is great . legends are a great way to get kids interested in local history .

Stacey
I thought that the story didn't have enough information on Molly Leigh. The Info on her was very short and not specific enough. I Also thought that calling Molly Very Ugly would have been an insult to her and her decendent Sybil Leek. And personally I think calling someone ugly is very rude.

Andrew Duncan
Im really interested in all this you said - some people say though, which i believe, that she herself not her spirit tried to break out of the tomb thats why the crack is there as well and she did make a curse befor she died saying "that the candle is dead but it is still burning" in other words she is dead but her life will still remains. She can actually add another 1000 yrs on to her life and whatever hits her she will stay alive and thats why i believe she be still alive now. Plus when she was buried she actually got buried at her house with her words "where ever im buried ill be at my stay" so she might be buried at the grave but she is buried at her house as well thats why people might be able to see her at her house. You might just have to look into that, please mention all this, and get in touch with me please cause i love the history between molly lee. Sorry about my blabbering... im 15 and i love to blabber about the history of molly lee, please get back to me Andrew.

Clare Sanderson
as a child my mother would take my sister and I to the grave to dance around and say the chant, suprise suprise I was never able to finish it !!!!!!!!

Vicky Van Nistelrooy
I think that Syril Leek is related to Molly Leigh because my friend is related to Molly Leigh. Oh by the way it's "Molly Leigh Molly Leigh chaise me round the apple tree" and I know this because my friend got chased by the ghost of Molly Leigh after saying that.

Kevin Bailey
When I was younger 1965 age 9 the story was if you ran around her grave at midnight, shouting Molly Leigh.Molly Leigh come out and catch me, she would apear to catch you, I was never that brave

psychomajik
i love this story. ive seen and walked past her grave many a time... it fasinates me so glad ive been able to find out some more of the truths about molly.....

Tracy Adams
Fantastic. I knew about the grave facing a different way as Molly was a witch but I knew none of the other stories. I grew up just up the road from this church and we used to dare each other every Halloween to chant around the grave(although we were told that it was 'Molly Lee, Molly Lee, chase me round the apple tree'. That said none of us dared to utter any of the words just in case!!!!!!!!

John
My mum, who used to live in wolstanton once told me the story and says that she did herself run around her grave chanting but she never experienced any kind of supernatural phenomona. she said that you had to run around the grave anticlockwise 3 times and sing- "molly leigh, molly leigh, chase me around the apple tree" but she didnt remember where she knew this from.

Pauline Salt
Its an excellent story one I'v heard many times, its typical of a time of ignorance when a poor woman was judged on her appearance and because of that her desire to live alone making friends with things that dont judge her(some how that has a vaguely familar ring to todays views on women), but then dont we still react badly to something we dont understand

Sandra
I was thrilled to find something on the web about Molly Lee, the Burslem witch. I used to walk past her grave on the way to my sister's house in Burslem and always got a creepy feeling. My Grandmother told me that Molly used to be a milk-maid, and that she had watered down the milk and some of the kids got sick. I heard that Molly has 3 graves....one a tomb, one lying in the opposite direction to the others, and the other grave is supposed to be a pig-trough, there is a grave there that resembles a pig-trough, so is there any truth in this? I would love to hear more about Molly's history if anyone out there knows anything.
I have also had ghostly experiences at an old farm in Flat's Road in Norton, where I used to keep my horses, there's a story there!!!

winnie
we used to say 'molly lee, molly lee chase me round the apple tree'.

sarah
i have just been to try and find the grave of molly lee. which grave yard is it in?? any one help me??

keith twamley
as a former landlord of the MITRE PUBLIC HOUSE which was right next door to st johns church , we used to leave the pub just before midnight on halloween night to walk around the grave of MOLLY LEE. she was buried at the back of the church. it was really spooky going to bed that night at the pub !

Laurie Sims
I come orginally from Burslem and now live in bradeley and as a teenager i have spent many halloween nights at St Johns Church around Molly Leigh's grave. I am now 32 and still the old story of Molly Leigh gives me the creeps.

Katy
i got a book out from the stone libary called ghosts of staffordshire or something like that. anyway, the first story in there is molly leighs and its very interesting. i suggest anyone looking to research molly should look at that book. it has a drawing of her grave on the front but i cant remember the exact title but it was something like haunted or ghosts of stafford/staffordshire. after reading it i went too see mollys grave and its really spooky even in daylight, its got some cracks in it now but i didnt want to stand too close to it incase i saw something inside lol! i wish her house was still there but it was knocked down after she died because weird things happened there, wish i knew the exact place where it stood i just know it was on hamil road.

Issy
There's a tree in the middle of Checkey churchyard, and apparenly when you dance around it three times chanting "Mary Lee, Mary Lee, come and catch me" the ghost of Mary Lee does indeed chase you...

hannah and rachel
we'v been reading wat people have said and to those that believe in the supernatral and the story of molly lee i don't really know weather she was a witch but i do know that she exsited. i think that she was just an old woman that didn't speak to anybody and that she got on better with animals because humans can be right idiots and are always streotypical.

nathan parsons
i think she is real but i just want to know what happend to her and if people are telling the truth

witchwhich
The way the British have treated such folks should be made aware of! its so sad that people are so scared of any one different !
I loved this story and many people still in the around the world and in the uk are scared of witches and folks with different views ,and why i ask myself? most witches i know are kind loving healers who know about the spirit more than most men of the church in my eyes ! and to be different is not wrong !
i am not a big supporter of Alister Crowley but i do find some of his art interesting ! i feel that we all need some pure magic in our lives, more so the magic of our hearts !

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