Real, Historical Witches' Houses and Cottages

Updated on May 30, 2018

Where Do Witches Live?

When you think of a witch's home, what sort of images does your mind conjure? Is it something outlandish and surreal like a house made of gingerbread, or is it more like a dimly lit, stone-walled, chilly abode secluded in the countryside? Most "witch" houses were... regular ol' houses according to the times that they were alive, like Alice Kyteler's home, and were easy to get to. But then again, some witch dens are surrounded by lore and wonder, like Mother Shipton's Cave. Let's look at a few of the world's most famous witches and where they called home. We'll talk about:

  • Pendle Witches' Ruins (England)
  • Kyteler's Inn (Ireland)
  • Mother Shipton's Cave (England)
  • John Dee's House (England)
  • La Voisin's Villeneuve-sur-Gravois District (France)
  • 1020 St. Ann Street, New Orleans (America)

Source

Pendle Witches' Ruins

Where

Pendel Hill, Lancashire, England

Can You Visit?

Not the ruins themselves. They were reburied after examination. While you can't get to the ruins, you can take a 45-mile bus, bike, or car tour through the hamlets that were involved in the Pendle witch trials.

About the House

About seven years ago, a set of nearly intact stone ruins were found buried in the English countryside near Pendle. Inside the stone ruins were Victorian-era stove, 19th-century cookware, and a bed frame. Perhaps most notable—and most shocking—was an entombed and intact cat skeleton in the wall. The ruins might just be the destroyed remains Malkin Tower, the home of Elizabeth Demdike, one of the key Pendle witches.

About the Legend

The 1612 Pendle witch trials are some of England's most famous and well-documented trials. Twelve people were accused of using witchcraft to murder ten people. Of those twelve, eleven went to trial (nine women and two men). It appears as though many of the people accused did believe themselves to be witches in the very traditional sense. That is, they were rural healers and herbalists who exchanged their services and expertise for money—and this practice would have been common in rural 16th century England (and in many other rural places as well). Ten of the twelve accused were sentenced to death by hanging. Though the executions happened more than 400 years ago, Pendle continues to benefit from it's history; many tourists come to see the town where this historic debacle took place.

Christmas lights drape cheer upon the renovated home of accused witch Alice Kyteler.
Christmas lights drape cheer upon the renovated home of accused witch Alice Kyteler. | Source

Kyteler's Inn

Where

St Kieran's St, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland

Can You Visit?

Absolutely! You can stop by for a pint of local brew or some traditional Irish cuisine. Though it's called an "inn," they don't have rooms for you to stay in.

About the House

Kyteler's home stood in the middle of Kilkenny, Ireland. Her home was large and made of stone. In fact, it still stands today and operates as a pub and inn. The inn touts itself as one of the oldest inns in Ireland, claiming to be established in 1324.

About Alice

Alice Kyteler (c. 1263 – later than 1325) was a wealthy Irish noblewoman. She was born into a wealthy merchant family, and then later in life, she married her fortune to another wealthy merchant, William Outlaw. The circumstances of Outlaw's death have since been lost to the annuls of history; however, it does seem clear that Kyteler's neighbors and stepchildren were quite jealous of her vast fortunes—jealous to the point that they leveled accusations of witchcraft against her. The accusations were successful only in that they caused Kyteler to flee Ireland after she sensed public perception against her shifting and her powerful friends could no longer sway church officials in her favor. She evaporated into the wind and was never heard from again. History Ireland provides an in-depth and engaging investigation of the trial and its aftermath.

Mother Shipton's Cave
Mother Shipton's Cave | Source

Mother Shipton's Cave

Where

Prophecy Lodge, Harrogate Rd, High Bridge, Knaresborough HG5 8DD, UK

Can you visit?

Yes, the park is open from May - November. There are some timing restrictions, so definitely check the park's website before you head over there. The park is a nice woodland walk; unfortunately, the walk is not suitable for wheelchair-bound people.

About the Cave

Mother Shipton's Cave is a small cave located in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, in the northeast region of England. This cave is what's known as a "petrifying well." Petrifying wells are natural phenomena, although they were once believed to be a source of witchcraft. These wells have an abnormally high amount of mineral content in the water, so as water evaporates, anything left near the well will take on a stone-like appearance.

About the Legend

Pinning down hard facts about Mother Shipton (c. 1488–1561), also known as Ursula Southeil, is a herculean task. The first publication of Mother Shipton's prophecies appeared around 1641, which is about 80 years after her presumed death. In folklore, Mother Shipton is known for her appearance and for her prophesying and fortunetelling. She was born hideously deformed according to legend; she was also the daughter of Agatha Southeil, also a suspected witch herself. Although, Agatha was likely branded a witch for becoming pregnant out of wedlock at 16, which caused her to flee to the cave to have her child (Ursula) there.

Source

Dr. John Dee's House

Where

Mortlake High St, London SW14 8HW, UK

Can You Visit?
Yes. You can walk by where the house's location likely was. Its location is denoted by a small plaque. There is no museum to visit.

About the Property

Dr. John Dee's (c. 1507 - 1608) house was located on the north side of Mortlake High Street, near the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Dee expanded the house quite a bit, building additional rooms, a laboratory, an observatory, and a library. Since his passing, the building has lived many lives. It's been a tapestry production warehouse, a girls' school, and an inn. It's suspected that nothing of the original structure remains.

About the Person
John Dee served as a notable advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He was renown for his work with math, astronomy, astrology, and occult philosophy. Dee devoted himself to divination and horoscopes, which landed him in trouble with the law—hence the "witch" label. He exonerated himself each time he was accused of spurious or heretical behavior. He was an avid preserver of knowledge, manuscripts, and books, having one of the largest (if not the largest) library in London.

La Voisin's Villeneuve-sur-Gravois District

Where

Known as Quartier de Bonne-Nouvelle today (Previously Villeneuve-sur-Gravois)

Can You Visit?

You can visit the district, but there doesn't appear to be any museum, monument, or socialist site that you can visit.

About the House

According to "The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV," Catherine Monvoisin (or Montvoisin, née Deshayes, and also known as "La Voisin") resided in Villeneuve-sur-Gravois, a small district of Paris, France.

About the Woman

Monvoisin (c. 1640 – February 22, 1680) was colloquially known as "La Voisin," or "the neighbor." She was a Swiss army knife of insidious trades. She dealt in poison, murder, and black magic rituals. Monvoison forged ahead when her husband's jewelry-making career failed to pan out. She began offering abortions, and making and selling all sort of magical ephemera (like potions, poisons, and aphrodisiacs). A few other prominent women were arrested for poisoning people, tried, and executed. It was on the heels of these executions that the French government came for Monvoisin. They arrested her in March of 1679, found her guilty of witchcraft, and executed her about a year later in 1680. Unlike many accused witches, Monvoison was spared torture, likely because her main clients were Parisian elite. If she started naming names, many of the elite would have to be executed as well.

1020 St. Ann Street, New Orleans

Where

1020 St. Ann Street (formerly 152 Rue St. Ann), New Orleans, Louisiana, America

Can You Visit?

Yes, you can walk by the home. According to some sources, you used to be able to rent the home for a brief stay. That option doesn't seem to be available any longer. If you want information about Marie, you can check out the near-by New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. And if you're looking for a place to stay, the Inn on St. Anne is a brief jaunt from Laveau's home.

The Home

Marie Laveau (1801– 1881) allegedly lived at 1020 St. Ann Street in New Orleans' French Quarter. The original home was demolished in 1903, but the new home was built on the original foundation. The location is registered as a historical landmark.

The Legend

Can you talk about witchcraft without talking about Marie Laveau? Obviously not, because here we are! Laveau was known as the Voodoo queen of New Orleans. Voodoo was typically used in the white magic sense, to put it in a European context. So, Voodoo was used to encourage healing, to protect people, and to divine information. More practically, however, Laveau ran a brothel, connecting wealthy white patrons with Creole sex workers. Laveau also seemed adept at acquiring and leveraging information against her wealthy patrons.

Though Marie Laveau the former passed away more than 135 years ago, she is still a captivating enigma. Records surrounding her life are few and far between, making facts difficult to pin down. It's also historically difficult to differentiate between Marie Laveau and her daughter Marie Laveau II. And on top of all that, there has been a great deal of creative licensing with her personage—take American Horror Story's characterization of her, for example.

Why Are These the Houses That Are Still Around?

Three reasons stand out to me as to why these structures are still standing: the practitioner's social influence, the house's material, and the practitioner's wealth.

The Practitioner's Social Influence

Of the alleged witches mentioned in this article, four of the six traveled in the upper tiers of society. Alice Kyteler was a rich merchant who had strong ties to the upper echelons of society. John Dee was a consultant to the queen of England. La Voison served the King's mistress on several occasions (and the Parisian elite on many others). Marie Laveau traded in secrets and scandals with New Orleans' upper crust. These connections helped these people escape prosecution entirely (such as Kyteler) or made their prison stays abnormally congenial (as with La Voison). When you take care of the upper crust, they tend not to want you spilling their secrets during a trial.

The House's Material

With the exception of Mother Shipton's Cave, all the houses are man-made structures. Practically speaking, stone simply lasts longer. So, if you had the money to build your house out of stone, your house was going to last longer. Many accused witches were poor. Their homes were likely made out of wood. Wood degrades easier than stone. And if you lack the social influence to protect you, why would the people accusing you want to preserve your home?

The Practioner's Wealth

Wealth goes hand-in-hand with social influence in this article. Wealth afforded Kyteler a means to escape into the annuls of history. Wealth allowed John Dee to amass England's largest library at the time (books were not cheap back then). Wealth also undoubtedly played a role in who these alleged practitioners came in contact with and how much sway they had.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kent Adams profile image

      Nicholas Weissman 

      5 months ago from Washington, DC

      This is such a unique topic and I love it! I will remember these places if I ever visit any of the locations.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)