Ever wondered what real historical witches houses and cottages look like? Often we think of spooky Victorian houses, houses made of candy, and cabins on the hill as witches houses. But some witches lived in castles, caves, and old city buildings. Take a journey with me to England, Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S. to the scariest and most intriguing witches houses on the block.
Whether the accused were real “witches” or not, these are the closest places we have to real historical witches houses and cottages today:
Called a witch by some, a wise woman by most, Biddy Early once lived in a cottage in County Clare, Ireland. Biddy was known to be a healer and claimed to have a connection with the fairy folk who gave her advice on how to effectively use herbs. There’s a story about how Biddy Early looked into a bottle for the fairies’ advice. Her little cottage is in ruin but still stands in Feakle, County Clare. It’s covered in vines and was even up for sale a few years back with no buyers. People still visit it today and leave Biddy offerings of coins, shells, and stones in hopes she will grant their wishes on the other side.
While not a witch per se, Aleister Crowley’s name will go down in history as the “most wicked man on earth”. Crowley was a man with an unhealthy love for the occult. He began his journey into the world of magic by joining the Order of the Golden Dawn. After leaving the order, he eventually went on to establish his own religion called Thelema which still gains followers worldwide today. During the course of his life, Crowley purchased a home called the Boleskine Manor in Scotland. He chose this home as it was the perfect location for a certain ritual he wanted to perform.
People claim it’s still haunted and there have been numerous tragedies at the house since Crowley’s time there. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame bought the home in the 1970’s to write music there. He didn’t spend more than a few months at the house and had a friend keep up the place following his departure. The friend, a man named Dent, claims to have had numerous terrifying experiences with spirits in the house.
I’ve visited the Witch House in Salem, MA and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits there. The Witch House is called such because it is the last standing home in Salem with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, a witch didn’t live there but a judge named Jonathon Corwin did. Corwin was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials and it’s said he might have held secret Witch Trials within the home. Today when you visit this real historical witches house, you’ll see various real witchcraft and folk magic artifacts in the home, and you may even feel the presence of Corwin and the witches themselves.
John Dee was a famous occultist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I in sixteenth century England. He was a mathematician and philosopher whose earthly mission was to create unity of mankind through his means of angelic magic and divination. While not necessarily accused of witchcraft, Dee’s magical endeavors are well-known today and his magical tools are on display in the British Museum. John Dee lived at his mother’s home on Mortlake Street in London, which is also known to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth I. Today it is part of Mortlake Tapestry Works but a plaque on the wall commemorates John Dee’s magical residence some five hundred years ago.
Also in Salem, MA, you can visit a witch shop called Crow Haven Corner that is also a real witch’s house! Lorelei Stathopoulos is Salem’s resident “love witch” and expert who runs the shop Crow Haven Corner beneath her two-floor apartment. The shop was once ran by Laurie Cabot, the “Official Witch of Salem”, who sold it to Stathopoulos some years back. I had the pleasure of visiting Crow Haven Corner last year, and it was simply enchanting! The building is black and the shop’s ceiling is covered in witch’s balls (glass ornamental balls with magical ability of trapping negative energy). I purchased a spell candle for success from Salem’s love witch and listened briefly to a love reading being given at the back of the store. You can visit this real witches house (only the shop part is open to the public).
Ever heard of the legend of the Bell Witch? If you haven’t, it goes something like this – back in the early 1800’s, a man named John Bell moved into a home in what is now Adams, Tennessee. The Bell family began to be haunted by a ghost of a woman who claimed she was going to kill John Bell. The whole family experienced violence at the hands of an unseen specter who would come to be called the Bell Witch.
An old woman’s disembodied voice haunted the Bell family for years, confirmed by numerous people outside of the family including Andrew Jackson. A cave close to the Bell homestead came to be called the Bell Witch cave. Betsy Bell, John Bell’s daughter, claimed to have heard the Bell Witch’s voice in the cave and legend says the Bell Witch’s ghost resided in the cave when she wasn’t tormenting the Bell family. You can visit the Bell Witch cave today in the summer months and in October, but keep in mind it is privately owned and tours are given based on the owner’s discretion.
One of the most infamous witch trials in England is known as the Pendle Witch Trials. The ruins of a presumed witches cottage were found in 2011. Historians claimed the site was possibly a Pendle Witch’s house because of a cat skeleton they’d found sealed up in one of the home’s walls. This claim was never confirmed and eventually the Pendle Witches House was re-buried to preserve it from vandalism and tourism. While it’s possible the Pendle Witch ruins were the home of one of the accused Pendle witches, it’s also likely a weaver lived in the home instead. Perhaps we’ll never know if the ruins were truly a real historical witches house. Because it’s been re-buried, tourists can no longer visit the home.
Perhaps one of the most famous queens of England was Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII in the 1530’s. Henry VIII claimed he had been seduced by charms into marrying Anne Boleyn, and other accusations were made of the queen being promiscuous and performing black magic. While many scholars deny the accusations, Anne Boleyn was accused nonetheless and beheaded at the Tower of London in 1536. Her ghost is said to haunt various locations in England – one being her childhood home Hever Castle. Anne Boleyn’s ghost is seen at Hever Castle mostly around Christmas-time, haunting the tree where she and Henry were said to have courted. This real historical witches house can be visited today by purchasing tickets online or in person.
One of the most frightening movies is The Conjuring (IMO) was inspired by true events and a real historical witches house! In the 1970s, the Perron family moved into a large farmhouse in Rhode Island. They quickly realized it was haunted and the family was tortured by a spirit known as Bathsheba. After research was done, and the Warrens got involved, it was confirmed a woman named Bathsheba Sherman lived and died in the house in the eighteen hundreds, a hundred some years before the Perron family moved in.
Bathsheba Sherman was accused of witchcraft, including the murder of a neighbor’s infant who was in her care. Her ghost was said to haunt the property for years of which is denied by the current residents. The current residents ask to be left alone as they’ve suffered years of vandalism and threats due to the popularity of the movie. Visitation is NOT welcome.
Marie Laveau, known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, owned a small cottage on St. Ann Street in the late eighteen hundreds. The address is thought to be 1020 St. Ann Street, but keep in mind the house is private property and not open to the public. Marie Laveau was a woman of fame in New Orleans in the late eighteen hundreds. She was known to hold large Voodoo gatherings at Congo Square and was sought out by politicians and the wealthy for her magical “abilities”. Today, her ghost is seen haunting St. Ann Street, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, and other places throughout the city.
Probably one of my favorite witches from history is the infamous Dame Alice Kyteler. Kyteler was born in Kyteler’s House, which is now a public Inn and Bar (address above). As an adult, she married four times and had children through a few wealthy men. She quickly amassed wealth of her own. Her first son, her only recorded child, was to acquire her estate if she died. Sadly, the other children from her subsequent marriages wanted her estate and they accused her along with eleven others of devil worship, intercourse with demons, making poisonous ointments and having a familiar spirit. Today, you can visit this real historical witches house in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Today, folks question as to whether Annie Palmer was truly a witch. And whether she actually existed. Legend has it, Annie Palmer married John Palmer in the early eighteen hundreds. She was after his fortune – a huge estate and plantation known as Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They say she poisoned John and inherited the plantation for herself when she was in her early twenties. The rumors of Annie being a witch circulated the town. She had a tendency to take her slaves to bed with her…and they say she learned Voodoo from her lovers. A murderous woman with insatiable greed and an appetite for destruction, Annie was murdered by her slave lover, Takoo.
There’s something about the Autumn season that makes everyone feel cozy and magical…including the wildlife! …September 18, 2023