Who Was The Witchfinder Geordie?
Finally, the screening of the horror classic Witchfinder General took place at the Castle Keep. And what an amazing night it turned out to be!
On arrival at the Keep (walk up the steep stone staircase at your own peril folks!), everything was being made ready for the enthusiastic crowd. I also had the chance to meet two people with whom I hope to work more with in the future – Kris Atkinson, the founder of Screenage Kicks and organiser of the event, and writer Stephen Laws, my fellow panellist. Both men are huge fans of the movie and that alone was enough for a great discussion afterwards.
To start the event, several volunteers, dressed in 17th Century costume, re-enacted a witch trial. Needless to say some members of the audience were accused of sorcery!
Kris did a brief talk prior to the eventual screening, and for the next couple of hours we all sat back and watched an amazing movie that hasn’t lost its power to shock.
Prior to the Q&A with me, Kris, Stephen and local historian Jo Bath the audience were given a guided tour of the dungeon, where many witches spent their last days before going to the gallows. According to Jo, witches in England were only hung, never burnt at the stake; that only applied to women who murdered their husbands!
The Q&A began with some set questions from Kris with further questions from the audience. Stephen and I discussed the film in great detail and I think we complimented each other well. It was the first time I have done something like this, and I feel both grateful and privileged to take part and learn from the experience. I’m also grateful for Stephen’s support.
What I found fascinating were the stories Jo told about witch craft in the North East. Not only did the area have the worst record for torturing and executing witches, we actually had our own witch hunter, whose gruesome antics equalled the work of Matthew Hopkins. Although Jo spoke a great deal about this man’s antics, his name remains unknown to this day – not so much Witchfinder General as Witchfinder Geordie!
So who is this mysterious figure who stalked the region? Perhaps his ghost should make an appearance!