Minister Church is the mother church of Boscastle and is dedicated to St Materiana and nestles among the trees of Minster Wood in the valley of the River Valency half-a-mile east of Boscastle.
Minster Church was damaged by the flood of August 2004 and in the following year archaeological work was done at the church to obtain a clearer idea of the history of the building. When the church was flooded it damaged the pews, the electric organ and a lot of the church.
Now days, alot of the graveyard is overgrown with only a small path that leads through the brambles to the woods.
On the boundary of church is a grave that belongs to Joan Wytte. Joan Wytte was a lady who put in jail for brawling and not for actually being a witch in 1813 in Bodmin Jail – She died at 38 years old of pneumonia.
She is locally known as the “fighting fairy” witch “Wytte Witch.”
She was well known throughout Cornwall as a clairvoyant, diviner and healer. As part of her healing routine- she used “clouties.”
As Joan got older, she became very ill-tempered as a result of an abscess tooth and was known to scream and act out in violence. She exhibited such unusual strength- it was suspected that she was in cahoots with the devil. She was eventually put in prison for brawling.
She was not buried right away- her bones were somehow taken and used for seances and pranks and later her skeleton remains hanged in the musuem for witchcraft in Boscastle for over 40 years.
The musuem started to encounter poltergeist activity and paranormal investigators advised the museum that they thought the activity was coming from where Joan’s skeleton was hanging. It was agreed that the musuem would pass Joan over to modern day witches for them to finally put her to rest. The decision was made that this would be completely private and would take place on Halloween. Where her grave would be was to remain a secret.
She was buried in 1998 – 185 years after her death with some tobacco, a clay pipe, a drop of brandy, special oils, and finally some magical herbs and incense. Joan had a peaceful burial on her journey to the Summerlands.
Obviously, over the years people have set out to find Joan’s Wyttes grave to pay their respects. As soon as I seen I was near the church I had to go to have a wander to see if I could find it.
Her gravestone reads ‘No longer Abused’ and she was abused in death and it is no wonder that the musuem recieved activity with countless visitors coming into the musuem probably insulting her and her way of life.
It is nice to see that she is finally in peace, in the beautiful woodlands just where she probably would have wanted to be.
16 thoughts on “A Witch Buried on Halloween – 185 years after her Death |Joan Wytte |Minister Church”
You FOUND it?! Wow. I am glad her skeleton was finally buried. I don’t think anyone’s bones should be used without their permission.
I did wasnt easy and my husband nearly sent for search and rescue but yes lol, me either and i am not surprised the museum had activity. Least she is now in peace x
hi – thanks for your adventurous tale! I’m curious about the portrait – do you have a source for it? thanks
I don’t know but if you Google her this picture comes up, you may be able to dig a little more then.
ah ok – thanks Charlene – that was fast! I saw it on another site – and my googling the image brought me to you – but I think the evidence for it being Joan Wytte is a google phenomena! Which is also a fascinating bit of witchery!
I have just tried to the same and yes it does I will source where I’ve seen it and let you know lol…its got me pondering now 🤣
hi – you might be interested in a talk I’m giving on Joan Wytte for the Malmesbury Witch Trial 350 (Wiltshire, UK) – it’s this Thursday
Yes I would I’m in Nottingham though is it a event or on Facebook? Many thanks
Ah – Joan Wytte is a trickster I think – will keep us on our toes!
Ah – it’s an event so a bit far! But I’m doing a similar talk on zoom for the Victor Wynd museum in October – here’s the link! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-story-of-a-cornish-witch-joan-wytte-by-helen-cornish-tickets-324365825917?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
hi – I wondered if I could email you outside of this chat about your research? If you are happy to do so could you contact me at email@example.com
hi – I can confirm the image used is not of Joan Wytte – but of an unknown Dutch woman painted by a follower of Rembrandt, probably mid 1600s. The original is in the Taft museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. The story of Joan is very powerful and has a lot of meaning for many people – regardless of the lack of material evidence, but it does seem misleading to illustrate with this painting. Really happy to discuss via email – see comment above. all the best!
Hiya, I have had someone else email regarding the picture before, when I wrote the article a few years ago it was a picture I had seen which referred to her but I can not find the link to this source any longer. The only thing I can do is to remove the picture if it is of someone else and try and illustrate her story in some other form. Many thanks Charlene
I think the other email was also me – I’ve not been very consistent with the name box! I agree it’s a good idea to take the picture down – you’ve got plenty of photos already! It’s a great story and you’ve got such an interesting website. All the best Helen
I have updated the blog with a reference that the picture is for illustration only and it is not her. Unable to remove it due to it somehow being the feature picture. Thank you for your input
What a good idea. But, how weird – obviously keen to stay in the limelight! 😉