Real Historical Witches' Houses and Cottages

Updated on April 15, 2016
kittythedreamer profile image

Holding a complete fascination with the folkloric witch, Nicole has studied the history and folklore of witchcraft since she was a child.

Historic "Witch House" of Salem, MA
Historic "Witch House" of Salem, MA | Source

Fairy Tale Versus Reality

Often when a witch's house is depicted in a movie or book it looks a certain way. We either see small cottages made of candy or ramshackle cabins hidden deep in the woods surrounded by magical gardens. These depictions are elaborate and are there to tickle our fantasies and imagination. The reality is, historically speaking, houses that still stand today that are said to have been real witches' houses usually look much different than we might imagine. That being said, you might find reality is even more intriguing than fiction.

In this article, we will examine some of the houses today that are historically connected to accused or acclaimed witches from the past and present. Hold onto your heads and don't eat any of the candy.

Biddy Early's Cottage Remains
Biddy Early's Cottage Remains | Source

Biddy Early's Cottage

Biddy Early was a wise woman who lived in Ireland in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. While some accused her of being a "witch", most of the local townsfolk who knew her considered her to be benevolent or what they might have called a cunning woman or wise woman. She was said to have worked with the wee folk (fairies) in order to heal peoples' ailments or aid them in finding lost items. She also gave business and love advice to those who came seeking it. She was said to never have charged anyone money but took whatever they gave her in exchange for her services.

Her cottage still standing on Dromore Hill in Kilbarron today. In 2011, the owner of the property put it up for sale for seventy-five thousand pounds in hopes that someone would purchase it and renovate it specifically as a museum - to uphold the history of Biddy Early and her connection to Irish folklore. Unfortunately, the cottage has yet to be renovated and still remains in ruin. However, people still visit her cottage by a gorgeous path in the woods, and if you are to visit and go inside, there are little altars of offerings left for Biddy Early. Stones, crystals, pennies, and blue bottles (which are a part of Biddy's magical legacy).

To read more about Biddy Early, click here.

A Reconstructed Rose Hall in Jamaica, Home of the White Witch
A Reconstructed Rose Hall in Jamaica, Home of the White Witch | Source
Rose Hall before Renovation
Rose Hall before Renovation | Source
Tomb of the White Witch at Rose Hall
Tomb of the White Witch at Rose Hall | Source

Rose Hall, Jamaica

Legend has it that a woman named Annie Palmer lived at Rose Hall in Jamaica and that she was a witch. She was said to have been born in Haiti to parents from England and Ireland, but when they died she was adopted by her nanny and taught the ways of witchcraft. She moved to Rose Hall, Jamaica and married a man named John Palmer, but eventually she killed him along with other subsequent husbands. Annie Palmer, the White Witch of Rose Hall, was also said to have murdered her servants and used them in her diabolical magic.

Rose Hall is said to be haunted by the spirit of Annie Palmer, the White Witch; however, historians claim this story was made up many years ago and that no witch ever really existed at Rose Hall. Paranormal investigators say otherwise. I guess it all depends on what you choose to believe.

Boleskine House (older photo)
Boleskine House (older photo) | Source
Crowley in 1929
Crowley in 1929 | Source

Boleskine House

Aleister Crowley, called by some the most wicked man on earth, lived in the Boleskine House in Scotland in the early-mid twentieth century. Aleister was also a magician or sorcerer and established his own religion known as Thelema. He purchased Boleskine House in 1899 and said it was the perfect place in which to conduct a ritual from the Book of Abramelin. The ritual involved calling up and binding demons in order to summon one's guardian angel. Crowley stated the house had all the elements needed to be the place for the lengthy months-long ritual.

During and after Crowley's ritual at Boleskine House, people complained of many strange goings-on. One of the caretakers of Boleskine lost two of his children while working there. It was speculated that Crowley had summoned the demons for the ritual but was unable to bind or eradicate them from the property so they were able to torment those who came near the house. Many locals avoided going anywhere near the house for years saying it was haunted or cursed.

In the seventies, long after Crowley had sold the mansion, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame purchased the house. He believed it would be the perfect place to write music. Sources say Page spent a total of six weeks in the house. More recently Boleskine House suffered extensive damage from a fire.

While Crowley might not be called a "witch" per se, he was an occultist and a magician/sorcerer and so Boleskine House has been included here.

The supposed Pendle Witches' Cottage
The supposed Pendle Witches' Cottage | Source
Drawing of Nance Redferne and Chattox, Two Accused Pendle Witches
Drawing of Nance Redferne and Chattox, Two Accused Pendle Witches | Source

The Pendle Witches' Cottage

In the early seventeenth century in Lancashire, England the belief in witchcraft ran rampant. One particularly famous set of witch trials is referred to as the Pendle Witch Trials and involved the trying of twenty people. A little girl was involved in the trials of the Pendle Witches, and more than one of the accused witches "confessed" to having made pacts with the devil and using familiar spirits in exacting their evil wills upon others.

In 2011, while digging in the area of Pendle Hill, engineers unearthed a cottage they believed and claimed was a "witch's cottage". Apparently there were some cat remains found buried in a wall, so they jumped to conclusions and stated it must have been a witch's house. Possibly one of the famous Pendle Witch's houses. After the discovery of this "witch's cottage", many strange things happened to the people involved including sickness and strains of bad fortune.

No real evidence to back up these claims has ever been presented to the public, so this is all mere speculation and "jumping to conclusions". It was more popular than some might think for people in the seventeenth century to practice some form of folk magic, including the burial of skeletons within one's home.

The actual place that should be called the Pendle Witches' house is the Malkin Tower, the site of the alleged witches' meetings. Unfortunately, the Malkin Tower has been gone for many years and the location is unknown. The only sources we have claim it was located somewhere in the "Pendle Forest".

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The Witch House of Salem
The Witch House of Salem | Source
Corwin was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials who resigned after Bridget Bishop's execution.
Corwin was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials who resigned after Bridget Bishop's execution. | Source

The "Witch House" in Salem

If you ever visit Salem, MA, you might be inclined to visit the famous Witch House. As it is named the Witch House, you might think a witch or multiple witches once lived here. In fact, that is incorrect. It acquired its name because the judge of the infamous Salem Witch Trials by the name of Jonathan Corwin lived there in the sixteen hundreds. Some claim the legal proceedings were heard in this house, and this is why it is so named. However, historians deny this and say no trials or proceedings were ever carried out in Corwin's house during the Witch Trials.

Interestingly, Corwin resigned after the execution of Bridget Bishop, and soon afterward his own mother-in-law was accused of witchcraft. She was never charged, however her accuser (her servant Mercy Short) confessed to witchcraft and served some time behind bars.

Today the Witch House of Salem is a museum and is visited by thousands of tourists each year. It is the one surviving link to the Salem Witch Trials still standing.

Watch the Documentary on the Pendle Witch Trials

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Nicole Canfield


    Submit a Comment

    • Fayleen profile image

      Fayleen 6 weeks ago

      I will do it will take a long time to organise but I will do. It would be great to visit it around Halloween. My mother is in the USA with her partner so I could combine the two. I like flying as well but I get a bit nervous I have to drink a lot of booze before I get on a plane and when I get on the plane.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 weeks ago from the Ether

      Fayleen - You should! I've been to the Salem Witch House and loved it.

    • Fayleen profile image

      Fayleen 7 weeks ago

      The Salem witch house and biddy early a house I like these two the best as they are quaint and like proper witchy houses. I remember the story of the Salem witch trials as we studied the play "the crucible" in drama. Maybe one day I could visit these houses. I need to add it to my things to do list.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 months ago from the Ether

      Karen - Yes, it was my FAVORITE place in Salem!

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 5 months ago from New England

      Enjoyed reading this article. I've been to Witch House in Salem. Their presentation of the Witch Trials has been updated since the 1990's, and is very haunting. Very effective.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 months ago from the Ether

      Hi Thalia, I've been to the witch house in Salem...but I'd love to see the rest!

    • Thalia Jasmin profile image

      Thalia Jasmin 5 months ago from Italy

      Interesting! I'd like to visit them all, but I'd like the Biddy Early's cottage in particular. Have you ever visited them?

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Lipnancy - Unfortunately that's just the way they are portrayed throughout time. Some of us know better ;)

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 2 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      How come our history always assumes that the witch is bad or up to no good? But we love visiting these places.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      You never fail to find interesting subjects to write about. This is another good one.

    • Nicole Young 07 profile image

      Nicole Young 07 2 years ago from Chicago Illinois

      I have read about the salem witch trial and about the Malleus Maleficarum, all of which has something to do with hunting and trials of witch. Some punishment were indeed inhumane :(

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Nell - Thank you for reading this one. Have you ever visited Pendle Witch Hill?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Fascinating read kitty, yes I do know about the Pendle witches, but not the others, its a strange time in history, so many women just wanting to help others being accused of witchcraft, nell

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Interesting houses and article. I'm glad you posted the photos. It really isn't funny how so many innocent people were accused of witchcraft. It kind of reminds me of how people are accused of sexual crimes today when someone wants to get back at them.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Eldeberry Arts - Thank you! Glad you liked it.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      tebo - Thanks so much!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Great hub, a really interesting read.

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting Kittythedreamer. I enjoyed reading about all these characters from history. You always come up with topics that interest me.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Sparrowlet - Can I ask who she was? I'm obsessed with witch trials. :) Thanks!

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Wow, very unusual and well written hub! Enjoyed every word. I have an ancestor who was an accused witch in Salem, MA. Not sure where her house was, though! Great hub.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Seafarer Mama - Thanks Ma'am!

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 2 years ago from New England

      Very interesting and intriguing article, Kitty. ~:0)

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      heidi - Glad you enjoyed this one. :) Spring Blessings to you!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Always fascinating stuff, Nicole/Kitty! I love the way you always present the facts and the myths. Spring Blessings!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      purl3agony - I agree, I was shocked when I first learned Biddy Early's cottage was still standing...I've been fascinated with her story for years now. Thanks for reading!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      cmoneyspinner1tf - Very good point! I like that idea. :)

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Fascinating read. It's amazing to me that Biddy Early's cottage still exists, in any state. Wish I had the money to buy it. I think it would make a wonderful museum, not only of folklore but of the building practices at that time. Thanks for sharing these interesting places and their histories!

    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 2 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Fascinating read. If I was Jimmy Page I would have bought Rose Hall in Jamaica. If the house gave me the creeps, I'd just go for a walk on the beach! :)