According to a 19th-century prophecy by the infamous mystic James Murell, the Essex village of Canewdon, would be populated with Witches “forever”. Indeed, the village and the surrounding area have been steeped in Witch lore since at least 1580, when a woman named Rose Pye was accused of witchcraft, tried and acquitted. Legend has it that every time a stone falls from the tower of St. Nicholas Church one Witch will die and another will take her place. At midnight a headless Witch sometimes materializes near the church and floats down to the river. Anyone who encounters her is lifted into the air and let down in the nearest ditch.
The village of Canewdon is reputed to be haunted by witches and their familiars (the reputation of Canewdon’s witches is worldwide and draws so many occultists to the village every Halloween that the police frequently erect roadblocks, preventing all but the villagers from entering). The grounds of the 12th century Church of St. Nicholas, which stands upon a hill overlooking the village, are said to be haunted by a ‘grey lady’, who wanders the graveyard on moonless nights. The apparition of a young girl (possibly the same ‘lady’) has been seen waiting at the end of the vicarage driveway, beside the graveyard entrance.
The Domesday Book survey shows that the land in Canewdon belonged to Sweyne. The village of Canewdon was built on a hill 128ft above the Crouch marshes. The name means ‘The hill of Cana’a people’.