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Mermaid Inn

A53, Thorncliffe, Leek, Staffordshire

Mermaid Pool is about a mile from the inn. In the late 17th century, a local witch- hunter, Joshua Linnet, was responsible for seeking out and torturing suspect women in the area. One of the tests for witches was ‘Trial by Ordeal’, which included one by cold water. In this, the accused was tied at feet and hands and lowered into water by a rope. This rope was tied around the defendant's waist, with had a knot a particular distance from the torso. If both knot and accused dipped beneath the surface of the water, the accused was proven innocent. If the knot was dry, the defendant was guilty. This was proof they were in league with the Devil. In this type of ordeal, the water was symbolic of the flood of the Old Testament, washing sin from the face of the earth, allowing only the righteous minority to survive. On one occasion, after questioning at this pub, such a test led to a girl being drowned. Three days later, as Linnet was passing the pool, her ghost reached out and dragged him in with her to his death. They , people say, to continue their macabre dance of death as ghosts around this pub. It is claimed that this peat stained pool is bottomless, cattle refuse to drink here and birds never fly above it.
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