For hundreds of years the area round Enfield was notorious for witchcraft, the most famous being Winchmore Hill’s Elizabeth Sawyer, the so called Witch of Edmonton. Sawyer was accused of murdering by mysterious means a neighbour who had stuck her pig, and was hanged at Tyburn.
It wasn’t the first incident. A few years earlier, a group of men were accused of performing rituals in the woods in an area close to present day Hounsden Road. Closer to home, there have been sightings of black dogs reported down the ages, including at Palmers Green’s Deadman’s Bridge where cartsman Gibby Haynes is said to have drowned after his horse was startled by a black creature.
There were woodlands all around Palmers Green before the coming of the diggers inhabited by peasants and country folk, and not a few vagabonds. A document discovered in the Town Hall last week seems to show that the fear of witchcraft was very real in the fields and homesteads of what became Palmers Green.
While there has been no formal investigation as yet, the document is a stunning find which could reframe our whole history. It is believed to have been found in a box when workmen took down a partition wall, and may predate anything we previously knew about the Palmers Green area.
Photos of the script show a barely legible script, part of which, unsettlingly, seems to relate to instructions for an annual ritual to keep the Broomfield area safe from witchcraft. Enfield’s Local Studies and Archive are currently working on a full transcript.