1612 – 2012 400 years since Lancashire witch trials and Lancashire hot pot.


Lancashire has a long tradition of matriarchs – Lancashire women take a no-nonsense attitude to life and are strong characters. This attitude may have been seen as a threat in past times and it’s maybe unsurprising that Lancashire was the scene of witch trials in the early sixteen hundreds, where 10 people (including two men incidentally) were hanged as a result of accusations and a guilty verdict of being witches. This weekend a commemoration of the events four hundred years ago took place around Pendle Hill, Lancashire. My husbands thoughts on this was that it shouldn’t be a celebration, “what’s to celebrate?” he remonstrated, these people were killed. My view is, it’s important that the date is remembered, I was heartened to read that Arthur Studdard a retired barrister, felt that these women should have been pardoned, but this has not happened mainly because of the length of time since it happened and the quality of evidence to review. He felt strong enough to request the Queens support. This weekend’s event did make me think about how far women have come in terms of equality, we have come some considerable way since 1600 I feel, but have some way to go yet perhaps. Another ‘event’ earlier on in the year was the discovery of a cats skeleton bricked up in a wall of a derelict house, found under a mound during a construction project in the area around Pendle Hill. This area is certainly dramatic, bleak and atmospheric, a climb up the hill on the anniversary in the cloud and mist certainly made you feel that there was something in the stories told of these women. The picture below is of a ‘snow witch’ on the side of Pendle hill (a strange coincidence – spooky ;-))

Lancashire hot-pot.

400g Neck or middle neck of lamb

250g Stewing lamb

Potato (waxy potatoes are best such as King Edwards)

2 Carrots

500 mls of water

2 Teaspoons of cornflour mixed in some water

Salt and pepper

Spray oil


Peel carrots and potatoes, add lamb to a strong casserole dish.

Add water, cornflour and sliced carrots to the dish, add salt & pepper.

Slice potatoes to 3-4 mm thick slices and place on the top of the stew, spray with oil,

It is better to use a casserole dish with a well sealed lid if you have one – if not check the dish is not too dry, you may need to add more water during cooking.

Cook for at least 3-4 hours at gas mark 5 (traditionally this hot-pot was left to cook all day.)