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Witches Beech

Witches Beech - photo by John MorrisThis ancient beech has a massive girth of 6.39 metres. Its size and striking appearance make this tree a well known landmark.  Its name suggests that there may be some folklore attached to the Witches Beech. 

Perhaps the Witches Beech has some connection to the infamous Dunstable Witch who lived nearby.The witch’s name was Elizabeth Pratt and she was accused of bewitching the two children of the landlord of the Nags Head, touching both on the head after visiting the pub for bread and ale. After her visit, the two children grew sick, with a strange distemper, and died, screaming that they had been murdered by the witch. 

Elizabeth was tried as a witch and burned at the stake. Her fate is now remembered in a poem called The Bottled Curse by Alfred Wire. At her death, she is said to have cursed the churchyard, leading the local people to avoid it, lest her magic attack them, and causing the church to fall into disrepair;

Witches Beech - photo by John Morris“Thus the churchyard goes to ruin
Graves and fences getting worse:
Everyone devoutly wishing
Not to free the bottled curse.”

Have you heard of any stories about the tree?  Have you got any photos?  If so, please get in touch.

Getting There

Park in Whipsnade Heath car park, walk to the seat in central glade then turn left and follow circular path, at northern corner, turn left to the tree

Location

Whipsnade

Grid Reference

TL015180

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