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Burley Witch Shop: Witchcraft & Smuggling in Burley Village

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In the heart of the New Forest lies a quiet unassuming English village with a spooky history.

Burley Village is awash with tales of witch shops, witchcraft, smuggling treasure and dragons, which is probably why it’s such an excellent place to go to for Halloween. 

The most famous Burley witch shop is called A Coven of Witches. If you’re wondering why it’s so famous then it’s all thanks to a woman called Sybil Leek who gave the shop its name.

Read on to find out more about this interesting witch shop and Sybil Leek. We’ll also share some other secrets and facts about Burley Village that you might not know yet.

After all, there is far more to Burley Village than just witch shops!

Burley Witch Shop: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…”

When walking through Burley Village today, you will quickly notice the number of occult and witch shops and “witchy” signs here. Why you ask?

This is inherently linked to “Britain’s most famous witch” who once lived here in the 1950’s: Sybil Leek.

Often seen walking around the village in a long, black cloak with her pet jackdaw on her shoulder, the locals were upset by her appearance; believing her to be an “evil” witch.

In 1951, the Witchcraft Act was finally repealed. Although very few witches dared to reveal their craft at this time, Sybil Leek did. This resulted in a media frenzy, which caused her to flee to America in order to escape it.

Before she did however, she named one of the shops in the village as “A Coven of Witches”.

Burley Witch Shop: A Coven of Witches Shop, Burley Village

It’s in this shop that you can find the following story displayed in the window…

Why is it so witchy in Burley?

“During the late 1950’s, Sybil Leek was a self-confessed White Witch and High Priestess living in this village.

She started one of the first covens in the Forest called the “Horsa” coven, which is still in existence today.

Sybil was often seen in the village with her pet Jackdaw (Mr. Hotfoot Jackson) on her shoulder.

White Witches choose to live close to nature being guided by the sun, moon and stars, mixing herbal potions, practicing healing and doing goodwill.

Besides being famous as a White Witch, Sybil was a television reporter and authoress, who wrote many books on many fascinating subjects including astrology and her life living with the gypsies in the Forest.

Unfortunately, her fame and lifestyle attracted a huge amount of interest and people began to besiege her home.

So she decided to move to America where she received a huge welcome and lived out her life there until 1982.

Before moving to the USA, Sybil named this shop: ‘A Coven of Witches’.”

Burley Witch Shop: A Coven of Witches Shop, Burley

There’s an excellent three-part YouTube series you can watch of an interview with Sybil before she passed away in 1982.

She discusses her life story, which is very interesting – it even includes her time spent living with Romany gypsies in the New Forest. Check out the interviews here.

Are you after more UK Halloween ideas? Check out the FEAR scream park in Bristol! >>

A Tale of Smuggling Treasure Through Burley

Aside from witches and witch shops, Burley Village is also fraught with tales of smugglers and hidden treasure.

Folklore dictates that the Queen’s Head pub was notorious for 16th Century smugglers.

And it’s believed that there used to be an old smuggler’s tunnel between the pub and The Burley Manor.

Found within a hidden cellar in the pub were pistols, bottles and coins… all other treasure has since vanished without a trace.

And actually today, you can follow ‘Smuggler’s Road’ and take a walk through history.

Discovering Legendary Dragons

Not only are witches and smugglers prevalent within Burley Village’s history, but so are dragons!

It’s believed that a dragon’s lair used to be at the top of Castle Hill Lane. The dragon used to terrorise local villagers before a courageous knight dressed in glass-coated armour slayed the dragon.

Today, you can still visit the supposed location of the lair… but there are no dragons to be seen anymore!

Burley Village Wood Carving

Did You Know?

1. Burley is surrounded by trees with some very interesting names!

Some ancient oaks at Burley Lodge are known as ‘The Twelve Apostles’, the Wilverley Oak used in 1759 for hanging highwaymen and smugglers is called ‘The Naked Man’ and the trees near the old Vicarage are called ‘Miracle Trees’ as they break into leaf only at Christmas.

2. Ponies and cattle roam freely throughout Burley Village.

So don’t be surprised to see animals meander past you whilst you do your shopping!

3. Burley is twinned with Beurlay in France.

If you haven’t heard of twin or sister towns before then all you need to know is that this is the idea of linking towns together. This is done to foster friendships between different cultures and former enemy towns to promote peace, reconciliation, trade and tourism.

4. Burley Village has its own working cider farm and orchard.

Which results in tasty cider called Snake-Catcher Scrumpy!

Celebrating Halloween in Burley Village

With so much spooky history surrounding Burley Village, could you be persuaded to spend Halloween in this intriguing place?

As mentioned, the village is in the middle of the New Forest in England. Here are the address details you need:

Burley Village
New Forest National Park
BH24 4AB

Burley Village is quite small so you’ll easily find A Coven of Witches and other witch shops there. But here are the address details anyway in case you need them:

A Coven of Witches
The Cross
BH24 4AA

If you can make it down to the village during a weekend close to Halloween, then you can expect things like:

  • ‘Spot the Witch’ competitions
  • Storytelling
  • Tarot card readings
  • Apple bobbing
  • Pumpkin carving competitions
  • Fancy dress competitions
  • Fancy dress parades

RELATED: Tall Trees Trail, New Forest – How To See Giant Sequoia Trees in the UK

Would you visit Burley Village for Halloween and to see the famous Burley witch shop? What else are you excited to see? Let us know in the comments below…

Want more UK Halloween inspiration? Check out our other posts:

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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