The Legend of Mother Ludlam, Surrey Witch
by Ben Johnson
This legend can be traced back to the 17th century, when it is said that a friendly old white witch called Mother Ludlam used to live in a local cave close to the village of Frensham in Surrey.
Being friendlier than most witches, Mother Ludlam developed quite an enviable reputation by lending local villagers anything they asked for, under the rather peculiar proviso that it should be returned within two days.
Would-be borrowers were required to stand on a boulder on the entrance to Mother Ludlam’s cave and clearly state what they required. Once they got home they would then find the object of their desire waiting for them on their doorstep… think of it like an olden day amazon.com, albeit with a mandatory two day returns policy!
One day, a local man visited the cave (now known as Mother Ludlam’s Hole) and asked to borrow the witch’s cauldron. Hesitant to grant his request as this was her personal property, Mother Ludlam reluctantly agreed but reminded the man that it must be returned within two days.
Perhaps the man was half way through slow cooking his Sunday lunch, but for whatever reason he failed to return the cauldron and Mother Ludlam – gripped by rage – left the confines of her cave to seek vengeance.
Upon hearing that he was a wanted man, the borrower sought refuge in Frensham Church and this is where the cauldron remains to this day.
Whether or not this legend holds any truth remains conjecture, but what we do know is that the cauldron was used for centuries by the priests of Frensham for the brewing of church ale. It was even used for catering at religious festivals, and was likely responsible for many a sore head in the morning!
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