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Barrowford to mark the anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials

PUBLISHED: 15:09 12 April 2012 | UPDATED: 12:18 10 June 2016

Barrowford to mark the anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials

Barrowford to mark the anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials

A creative spell will be cast on this pretty Lancashire village to mark the anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials. Emma Mayoh reports PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Year two pupils at Barrowford School in their role play area during a reading activity about clownsYear two pupils at Barrowford School in their role play area during a reading activity about clowns

All eyes will be focused on Barrowford this year as the area marks the 400th anniversary of the famous Pendle Witch Trials. People from across the globe will be spellbound with the diary of events planned in and around this pretty corner of Lancashire.

Talented craftspeople, artists and creatives in Barrowford are casting their own spell to bring people to the village by conjuring up an exciting programme of events.

Artist Anita Burrows, who has a studio in Higherford Mill, has taken on the ambitious task of launching the Pendle International Print Biennial. The event, the first of its kind in the area, is being held to coincide with the 2012 anniversary. The former teaching assistant has already organised a special exhibition showing a series of etchings by internationally renowned artist Paula Rego’s as well as appearances by a handful of European artists.

The exhibitions will take place in nearby Colne Library between August and November but the home of the festival, which takes place on September 1st and 2nd, will be at Higherford Mill, a creative hub with 25 studios located on the edge of the village. Anita, who has been in the mill for ten years, has spent more than a year planning the festival and is expecting print makers from across the world to come and show their work.

Nicola Ashworth at Ashworth and Tennant Jewellers in their workshop areaNicola Ashworth at Ashworth and Tennant Jewellers in their workshop area

She said: ‘I thought it was important to mark the anniversary and when I discovered Paula Rego’s collection on the witches I knew it was an excellent opportunity to bring the works to Lancashire.

‘There will be lots of workshops with events leading up for the week before the festival. It has been a lot of work and I’m sure there will be a lot more but I’m excited about it happening here in Barrowford. There is nothing like it in this area. There are plenty of creative people here in the village so it is also an opportunity for them to showcase their skills.’

Anita, whose artistic talents include printmaking, painting, drawing, photography, video and sound, also hosts workshops around Lancashire. Local history plays a big part in her work which is one of the reasons marking the anniversary appealed to her. She is hoping that as well as marking the important milestone, the festival will also attract more visitors to the mill.

She said: ‘There are a lot of exciting, innovative things happening but people don’t realise we’re here. There are people who live in the village who don’t know about us and I would really like that to change. People are becoming more aware, partly because we open up to coincide with the monthly farmers’ markets. Barrowford is definitely getting better known for its artists and I’m hopeful the festival will make it even better.’

Anita Burrows working on a print mangle in her studioAnita Burrows working on a print mangle in her studio

Fellow Higherford Mill artist Joe Hesketh is also producing a body of works to mark the anniversary. She walked and camped the route followed by the Pendle Witches and has produced a series of paintings, drawings and a video diary of her experiences. The exhibition will tour around different venues near that same route including at the Pendle Heritage Centre in August. The mill will also host a handful of witch themed open studios events looking at alternative therapies they may have used.

They are also getting crafty at the Pendle Heritage Centre. Visitor services advisor Sue Unwin has been putting her talents as a former pattern cutter to good use and is busy making dozens of witch figures for
visitors to buy in the centre’s shop.

A busy time is expected for all of the staff at the centre who have been inundated with calls from enthusiasts, historians and authors keen to know more about the Pendle Witches. People have always travelled across the globe to visit Barrowford. But this year’s important milestone is already bringing even more people.

Pauline Andrews, visitor services assistant, said: ‘There has always been a fascination with the witches’ story. I’ve even had a lecturer from Hawaii come over here just to find out more.

Kathleen Pilling, Mary Laycock and Zoe Fallows attending a beginner’s sampler class with Lesley Johnson in the workshop area at Patchwork ChicksKathleen Pilling, Mary Laycock and Zoe Fallows attending a beginner’s sampler class with Lesley Johnson in the workshop area at Patchwork Chicks

‘Already we’ve noticed just how much interest there is. It’s going to be a good year and we’re excited about being able to mark this anniversary properly.’

Creativity and traditional skills stretch beyond those planning celebrations for the milestone and form an important part of the Barrowford community. Ashworth and Tennant Jewellers, run by Nicola Ashworth and Steve Tennant, has a traditional workshop where jewellery is made from scratch using specialist and increasingly rare techniques.

One group also retaining traditional skills are the team at Patchwork Chicks, owned by Karen Blackburn. Workshops are regularly held to teach everything from the basics of patchwork to more advanced skills. The shop is holding an exhibition at Pendle Heritage Centre on April 21st and 22nd to showcase the skills of patchwork enthusiasts from around Lancashire while raising money for The Christie Hospital.

Karen’s sister, Lindsay Harper, who works in the shop, said: ‘People come from miles around to see us because what we do is so specialist. The exhibition is always something we really enjoy and people from all over make patchwork items.

Pauline Andrews and Susan Unwin in the Pendle Arts Gallery area at Pendle Heritage CentrePauline Andrews and Susan Unwin in the Pendle Arts Gallery area at Pendle Heritage Centre

‘Barrowford is a fantastic place for us to be. As well as it being a lovely place for people to visit, it’s also got a great community feel with lots of friendly people.’

Where is it? Barrowford is located in Pendle, between Nelson and Colne. Type BB9 6JQ in your sat nav to get you there.

Where can I park?
There is some on-street parking as well as a handful of car parks including at the Pendle Heritage Centre.

What can I do? Barrowford has a fantastic reputation for shopping with many specialist boutiques, designer stores and specialist stores. Discover the local history at the Pendle Heritage Centre, browse works from local artists at Higherford Mill, or grab some local produce at the farmers’ markets held on the second Sunday of the month. Barrowford is also a great starting point for lovely countryside walks

Pendle WaterPendle Water



The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012  issue of Lancashire Life 
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