Above: Anna Massey prepares for Candlemas at Little Moreton Hall. ⓒ Alan Ingram / National Trust
To most of us, personal security means protecting ourselves against identity theft and cybercrime.
In Tudor times it was a bit different. Personal security centred on measures to keep out demons, witches and evil spirits. And February was a vital time in this battle against supernatural threats.
People took a candle to be blessed at a special ‘Candlemas’ service in their local church. Then, they used the ‘divine’ candle and its melted wax to safeguard themselves, their family and their homes.
This, and other efforts to combat evil influences, will be in sharp focus at Little Moreton Hall, the iconic Tudor home near Congleton, as the 2020 visitor season begins. Costumed Historical Interpreters will highlight how fear of supernatural forces played a major part in the lives of Tudor men and women, and explain how they dealt with this big issue.
Gill Kapadia, one of the hall’s costumed ‘gentlewomen’ explained, “Candlemas was generally a happy time. The worst of winter was coming to an end and people were looking forward to the end of bitter cold weather and food shortages. But the fear of demons and witches was very real and never went away. So, the blessing of the candle was vitally important. It would be a powerful weapon against evil in the year ahead.’
Anna Massey, Visitor Experience Officer at the hall, added, “This building provides a real insight into just how seriously the Tudors took supernatural influences. Burn marks on the timbers were one way of deterring witches. We have more than 270 of them. There are also daisywheels, concentric circles and tri-angular web marks; all designed to trap evil spirits. People of all ages find them fascinating. “
“Visitors will also be able to take one of our very popular guided tours of the Hall or simply explore this amazing Tudor home and its gardens for themselves. At weekends they can make a candle to take home. We’re certain our ‘Candlemas’ celebration will cast a new light on one corner of Tudor life.”
Little Moreton Hall opens for the 2020 season at 11am on Wed 12 February. Candlemas; Sat 15 February – Sun 23 February. From 26 February the Hall will be open Wed- Sun; 11am-5pm