The “Witch marks of Hoxne"

Witch marks

"Witch marks" at Yew Tree House

Introduction to the “Witch marks of Hoxne”

In August 2021 the Hoxne Heritage Group visited Thelnetham Windmill in Suffolk. Whilst there we noted circular marks, many daisy wheels or hexafoils on the timbers at the entrance to the mill. This triggered some interest and we noted that our village, Hoxne, contained a wide variety of these marks, and others. Curiously, they don’t seem to have been recorded before. I then decided to record as many buildings as possible in Hoxne and the surrounding area and try to make some sense of their occurrence.

  1. Belief in the supernatural in Suffolk
  2. Hoxne, like many villages in Medieval and later times contained a variety of beliefs in the supernatural. This article draws on text and experience of Francis Hutchinson who was a vicar in Hoxne from 1692-1706.

  3. Marian marks
  4. This link is a discussion on Marian marks in Hoxne.

  5. Burn marks
  6. This link is a discussion on Burn marks in Hoxne.

  7. Circles.
  8. Other marks.
  9. These links are a discussion on Circles and other marks in Hoxne.

  10. Dates of marks.
  11. Using dates from listings, the relationship of marks to each other, dateable parts of houses I have come up with some suggested dates to marks within Hoxne. The dates will become more refined as I do more surveys in Hoxne and the immediate environment.

  12. Surveys and reports.
  13. A number of surveys have been undertaken, as below, and are still to be done in Hoxne and the immediate area. As I do more surveys, I will add more reports and refine the section on the dates of marks seen in Hoxne.

Date Location
10.8.21 Thelnetham Windmill
29.10.21 White Cottage, Low Street
15.11.21 Downbridge Farm
17.11.21 23 Low Street
19.11.21 53 & 54 Low Street
19.11.21 53 & 54 Low Street additional information
19.11.21 Champfered edge of Bressummer at 54 Low Street
7.12.21 77 Low Street
7.12.21 Gissing Farmhouse
11.12.21 16 Cross Street
14.12.21 Locks Pyghtle, 1 & 2 Mill Road, Thorpe Abbotts
6.1.22 Beech Cottage, Low Street
18.1.22 The Swan
1.2.22 Abbey View, Cross Street
2.2.22 Pit Barn, Pit Lane
2.2.22 Aldersyde Cottage, Low Street
6.2.22 Abbey Farm, Cross Street
15.2.22 Yew Tree House, 37-39 Church Hill
16.2.22 6 Cross Street
18.3.22 St Peter & Paul with St Edmund, Hoxne
20.3.22 Bert’s Barn, Mendham
23.3.22 The Red House, Whitton’s Lane

Summary of bressummers

The bressummer (beam over the fire place) contains most marks. This link contains a summary of bressummers investigated to date.

Discussion on marks and findings.

In Low Street and Church Hill (near to the Church of St Peter and Paul with St Edmund) a full range of marks are found – lots of Marian marks and Burn marks amongst others.

As we move towards Cross Street there are fewer Marian marks but many more circles. This may represent variation in belief and influence of places of worship like the Parish Church. It is no coincidence that maybe 200 years after some marks were made in Cross Street the Baptist Chapel was built to cater for a section of the community who didn’t identify themselves with the established Church of England. There was also a Quaker presence in the village (persecuted by the 17th century Vicar Edward Willan who also was also known for persecuting witches. There was a Quaker Burial ground in the village but the location is not known. My guess would be somewhere in the vicinity of Cross Street well away from the Parish Church. Maybe the Marian symbols (at least in excess) were regarded as far too “Popish” for a more puritan belief system to tolerate in the more established non-conformist parts of the village such as Cross Street?

Houses of the same age, but differing parts of the village contain differing sets of marks as are recorded in the reports above. As more studies are made of houses in the village, no doubt the picture will become clearer or evolve.

“Witch marks” of Hoxne – contact me!

I would love to do a survey on your property. This is free, but helps me in my research. I will write a description of my findings for you. In return, I only ask that I can use your details to disseminate my findings.

Please contact me on:
Or phone: 01379 669 308
Thank you, Richard Giffin.