Book Haunted Inns and Hotels in East Hertfordshire

The White Lion

31 High Street, Walkern, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

The last legal witchcraft trial in England took place in this village in 1712, with the judges and witch-hunters stayed at this inn. By this time, it was difficult to get convictions for witchcraft, with it finally ceased to be a crime in 1736, although left on the statute books. Jane Wenham of Walkern was the last witch to be prosecuted at Walkern and found guilty. The authorities sentenced her to be hanged. However, reprieved, with forced into hiding before she was lynched. Since the trial at Walkern, there have been reports of cowled men seen in the pub, with cries and wailings in the nearby street. However, it is not true it was the last trial under the Witchcraft Act. A woman, Helen Duncan, was tried under that act in 1944. She was a mystic and foreteller of the future and, during séances at Portsmouth, told of British battleships being lost at sea. No one, even in naval intelligence, knew anything about this. After her trial, she was jailed for two years since the government feared that she could act as a spy for the enemy. This act was finally repealed in 1951.