In 1682, three impoverished women from Bideford in Devon were hanged, becoming the last people to be executed for witchcraft in England. The evidence against them was flimsy and their conviction was secured against a background of a baying mob mentality. Yet their story has endured, and their names were chanted as recently as the 1980s, as both inspiration and incantation, by women peace activists at Greenham Common.
In this edition of Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks to John Callow, whose new book The Last Witches of England demonstrates how the case of the Bideford witches sheds light upon the turbulent religious, political, class and social tensions of the 17th century.
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