Green and tranquil, four miles south-west of Framlingham, you will find the little village of Brandeston, with its Hall School built in 1543 and now part of Framlingham College and the thirteenth century church of All Saints that overlooks the beautiful Deben Valley. Against such an idyllic backdrop, it is hard to believe that this village was part of the setting of ‘those unhappy times’ – the witch hunts of the seventeenth century. And yet Brandeston was one of the villages in which the Witchfinder General haunted the parishioners.
The eccentric and elderly vicar, John Lowes, was accused of being a wizard. Local author Miles Jebb writes how this was “one of the most horrible instances of seventeenth-century cruelty”. John Lowes confessed only after he had been “kept awake for several nights” and dragged backwards and forwards around a room until he was insensible to what he was saying. No clergyman was allowed to attend him before he was strung up on the gallows at Bury, so he had to read the Burial Service from the Prayer Book to himself.
Today, you can see the plaque at All Saints commemorating the wronged vicar.
Be sure to visit The Queens Head, serving Adnams beer and fine pub food, with a peaceful garden for those lovely long summer days in the Suffolk countryside and roaring log fires for the winters.
Visiting Brandeston? Stay nearby at Framlingham.
For more information on the witch hunts, see The Discovery of Witches and Witchcraft: The Writings of the Witchfinders and Miles Jebb’s Suffolk.