Burley, a pretty little village in the New Forest, southern England, is famous for its witches. This began during the 1950s, when witch Sybil Leek moved to the area and opened a shop called A Coven of Witches at the Cross, Burley, Ringwood, Hampshire.
Sybil claimed to come from a family of hereditary witches dating back to the 16th Century. She also published several books on witchcraft, including Moon Signs and Cast Your Own Spell, and did much to raise people's awareness of the craft by talking about it to the press.
Although Sybil moved to America, where she died in 1982, her shop in Burley is still flourishing. Burley's witchcraft heritage certainly seems to have helped it prosper. As well as A Coven of Witches, other shops including Witchcraft and The Sorcerer's Apprentice have become well established selling occult paraphernalia and gifts with a magical theme.
The village also contains a cider farm, some excellent restaurants and a tea shop called The Black Cat. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Sybil Leek was not the first witch to be associated with The New Forest. Gerald Gardner, who founded Gardnerian Wicca, the best known tradition of witchcraft in the UK today, claimed he had been initiated to the craft by New Forest witch Dorothy Clutterbuck.
Nowadays, some people believe that these modern witches' claims to direct initiatory descent from an ancient witchcraft tradition might be a little exaggerated. However, they have certainly been extremely influential in promoting the craft as it is known today and have also left their own fascinating heritage in the lovely village of Burley, in England's New Forest.
Cast Your Own Spell