EMILY'S WOOD WEETING

The wood lies to the east of the village facing the Brandon, Mundford road. It is an ancient woodland, having something of a romantic and mysterious air. Its origins go to back to a time out of mind, when most of area was open heath land and the rabbit was the main inhabitant. It was certainly well established when the Priory of Bromehill was built nearby in about 1220, as the Augustinian canons used the timber for their fires and trapped birds among the trees for food.

Why it is called Emily's Wood is a mystery; local folk law refers to a white witch named Emily who lived in the wood and for a few pence would prepare potions to ward off evil spirits, cure sickness and get rid of warts by charming them; her speciality was a potion to improve male virility. It could not have been very effective as the village population remained static for many generations!

A white witch should not be confused with a black witch. A white witch is a power for good, a practitioner of herbal medicine; poor country people were unable to afford qualified doctors, so sort remedies for their ills from where they could find them, usually a so-called White witch. Black witches cast spells and curses, were agents of the Devil and were hunted down in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridegshire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the notorious witch-hunters Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne. There is no evidence to show when Emily practiced her craft in Weeting, but it was probably during the1700's.

Another possibility for the naming of Emily's Wood is that when John Julius Angerstein bought the Weeting Estate in 1808 one of his first actions was to embark on a tree planting programme amounting to some 1,500 acres of trees; two wooded areas were named after friends of his, Nelson's Plantation and Wellington's Plantation. The only mature woodland on the estate that could be enjoyed by the family was on the Brandon, Mundford road, and it is suggested that Angerstein named this Emily's Wood, after his favourite relation Emilia Boucherette.

Whatever it's origins Emily's Wood remains a delightful area, open to the public to enjoy a walk any day of the year and when the light is fading and the traffic noise is indiscernible, it is possible to imagine oneself seeking out the white witch of Weeting for a potion to cure your sickness or do wonders for your love life.

Gerry Moore 2004

Access

Emily's Wood is managed by the Forestry Commision and is normally open at all times. Restrictions to access may be in place during forestry operations