Some witches curse and cackle. Some, like Meena in Curse of the Fae King, are the sassy, sexy sort.
Then there are the ones who send shivers down your spine.
Ursula Southeil, born in the reign of Henry the Eighth, didn’t have a beautiful bone in her body. Even as a baby, no one wanted to nurse her...maybe because odd things happened around her.
Once she and the wooden cradle she slept in vanished. Her family found her hours later, back where she should have been. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? If you add in that the cradle floated three feet above the ground, and it gets spooky. Sometimes plates flew off shelves and smashed when she was in the house. She can’t have been a comfortable companion, even as a child.
No one wants a wife so ugly their eyes hurt from looking at her. Perhaps tales of Ursula’s ugliness grew in the telling since she married Thomas Shipton a carpenter from York. After that, people called her Old Mother Shipton. She told fortunes and sold charms. Some say her hooked nose and long chin make her the basis of Mr. Punch in traditional seaside shows. Others suggest she was the model for a pantomime dame.
Old Mother Shipton supposedly predicted the mobile phone, the airplane, and the Crimean War. Just for good measure, she foretold the end of the world —but like Nostradamus some hundred years before her, her verses are obscure.
One prophesy fascinates me. Mother Shipton claimed that Cardinal Wolsey—the staunch Roman Catholic of King Henry Vlll's court—would see York but never visit it. He travelled there in November 1530 and stopped overnight in a small town not far from the city.
He climbed the highest tower and looked across at York.
The next day, King Henry’s soldiers arrested him and carted him back off to London. He died on the way back. The tower still stands today.
So was the prophecy fact or fiction? You decide.