Black Annis – ‘The Bogey Women of Leicester’

So last week I was tagged in a drawing that had been purchased by Red Ridge x paranormal. They had researched a legend within the midlands area and purchased a drawing to represent the legend.

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Here is a article they wrote on it.

https://redridgex.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/the-art-of-lore-item-4-black-annis/

Red ridge x asked me to look into the legend further so I decided to research and visit the area to see what I could find.

The Folklore!

The Black Annis also known as ‘The Bogey Women of Leicester’, black Anna, Cat Anna and Black Agnes.

In folklore describes The black Annis has a old blue faced women with one eye with iron claws.

Legend has it that a lady had lived in a cave on Dane Hills Located in Leicester and that her cave had a tunnel attached which stretched out to Leicester castle. The ghost is said to haunt the cave, the tunnel, Leicester castle and Church of St. Mary de and is even has been reported in nearby parks.

Stories of the Black Annis tell that she would roam the woods bloodthirsty, looking for children. Once captured she would drink their blood, eat their flesh and dry their skins on the branches of a oak tree that was situated outside the cave. It was said that once the skins had dried out, she would make clothes and use it to decorate her cave.

It was said that Black Annis would only roam at night, if she dared to enter the sunlight during the day she would turn to stone.

The history

Nobody really knows where the legend of Black Annis came from but from a source I found there is indeed a cave and a oak tree located in a back garden of a house located on Danes Hill, and it was even marked on the first ever Ordnance Survey map of Leicester.
Local historian, William Kelly, who remembered the area well stated:

“On my last visit to the Bower Close, now several years ago, the trunk of the old tree was then standing, but I know not if it still remains. At that time, and long previously, the mouth of the cave was closed, but in my school-boy days it was open, and, with two or three companions, I recollect on one occasion snatching a fearful joy, by crawling on our hands and knees into the interior, which was some seven or eight feet long by about four or five feet wide, and having a ledge of rock, for a seat, running along each side.”

A local writor of ThisWasLeics, dug deep to see if the cave did indeed still exist, he looked at IOS maps of the area and pinpointed which back garden he thought it may be, he wrote a letter to ask if this was true and to his excitement the owner replied stating that yes he was correct and had pinpointed the correct house and stated that the deeds of the house which includes the cave, state that the land is named ‘Black Anna’a Bower Close.

There are many theories where the legend of Black Annis and where the tale could have come from.

One being that it originates from Agnes Scott, a Dominican nun who wore black and ran a colony to help the sick and the homeless, following her death in 1455, the legend of Anges Scott took a sinister turn to stop child from misbehaving.

Some people believe that the tale of Black Annis originates from Agnes Scott, a Dominican nun who wore a black habit and ran a colony to help the sick and homeless.

Another link to the legend is to a poet named John Heyrick. Heyrick wrote a poem describing Black Annis and pointed out if looked in to the accuracy of the history in the poem it would indeed prove to be true. But even before Heyrick had wrote his poem there was links to legend dating back further but the point to mention here is that Heyrick could have learnt the true identity of Black Annis from the circles he may have been within.

His description of Black Annis is as follows:

Tis said the soul of mortal man recoil’d,

To view Black Annis’ eye, so fierce and wild;

Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew

In place of hands, and features livid blue

Glar’d in her visage; while the obscene waist

Warm skins of human victims close embraced.

He then goes on to say in detail where Black Annis lived

Where down the plain the winding pathway falls,

From Glenfield Vill to Lester’s ancient walls,

Nature or Art with imitative power,

Far in the glenn has placed Black Annis’ Bower.

An oak, the pride of all the mossy dell,

Spread its broad arms above the stony cell;

And many a bush, with hostile thorns arrayed,

Forbids the secret cavern to invade;

Whilst delving vales each way meander round,

And violet banks with redolence abound.

The location where Heyrick Mentions was indeed true!

Heyrick also mentions that only the entrance of the cave now remains, but once there would have been large rooms. Excavations of Black Annis Bower have never taken place so it is hard to say if the tunnel from the cave to the castle is there or not!

Another proposed origin of the myth is as a pagan goddess who commanded the entire world to obey her. She would sacrifice others if her demands were not met by seeking revenge through any means. The interesting thing is Black Annis Bower was used an pagan site, Leicester town records talk of ancient paganistic ritual being held annually at the site on Easter Monday.

Another rumour is that she was actually a witch who accurately predicted Richard III’s death.

Paranormal EXPLORE

So after researching that I couldn’t actually go and see the cave without seeking permission from the home owner, my options on where I could visit was quite limited.

Leicester castle is now a college and parts of it is now new and not explore able, but there is still some of it remaining features left in parts and these can be seen from the castle gardens.

Church of St. Mary de, another place she is said to roam, is literally situated at the side of Leicester castle. I decided to venture in the church to have a look around and was took round by the lovely priest who shown me all the features the church had to offer.

I took a wonder outside and just decided to have a wonder and look around and didn’t attempt to communicate as I thought it may have appeared disrespectful to the priest’s beliefs who had beenso lovely to guide me around.

Video of my explore of the graveyard is here ….

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1822422824733532&id=1724463721196110

(Some info sourced from thiswasleicestershire and bbc.co.uk/Leicester)

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