Dating in the dark wallpaper

They can be found in many old houses, usually near the fire because people believed witches came down chimneys.

But our door had originally hung in a small barn that I now use as a garage.

Some experts call the hexafoil by the modern name ‘Daisy Wheel’ or ‘Marigold’ — Mary’s gold, implying flowers, femininity and an association with the Virgin Mary.

This would tie in with the large ‘M’ markings inscribed on posts in our barn.

Our door was covered with them, plus a symbol for averting the evil eye.

These ‘apotropaic’, or evil-averting, markings were intended to ward off domestic misfortune, harm or the malevolent influences of witches in past centuries.

Timothy Easton is one of the world’s leading experts on the marks and symbols used in early times to ward off the powers of darkness.

He lives near us, and first explained the marks on our door, showing me that one of the circular patterns imitated a ‘consecration’ cross blessed by a bishop. In the door’s centre is a small hexafoil with a larger one below, and two incomplete ones above.

If they floated, it proved they were witches and they were killed.

Such was their paranoia that the people of Stowmarket were happy to hand over £23 to Hopkins to be witch-free, while Aldeburgh got away with £6.

The Witchfinder General, immortalised by American actor Vincent Price in the 1968 British horror film, presided over the killing of 300 women he condemned as witches.

Because of its rarity, the door is going to star in an exhibition next year at the world-famous Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

It is staging an exhibition provisionally titled ‘Spellbound: Thinking Magically, Past and Present’.


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