The Fleece Inn is located in the small farming village of Bretforton in Worcestershire, England. The Inn was built early in the 15th century by a farmer named Byrd for his family’s living quarters. The building was rebuilt in the 17th century as a pub. The structure remained in the Byrd family for hundreds of years, until 1977 when descendant Ms. Lola Taplin bequeathed it to the National Trust upon her death at the age of 77.
The Fleece Inn was seriously damaged by fire in early 2004, but has now been completely restored. Interestingly, the “witch circles” on the floor in front of each hearth and the “witch marks” on the inside of the doors have also been restored according to the wishes of Ms. Taplin. They are there to prevent evil spirits or witches from entering through the chimneys and doors. I’m not sure what is used to prevent the spirits from entering through windows…perhaps they are never opened.
It was commonly believed that evil spirits or “black” witches could fly, and many symbols and patterns used for protection against these entities have been found engraved in wooden beams, floors, and in the ceiling of old buildings throughout Britain.
It is believed that the complex patterns caused confusion in the flying entities. Known as Apotropaic (evil averting) markings, the symbols were “carved into doors, windows and fireplaces where air, and therefore witches, could enter a building.” Interlocking circles often creating Daisy Wheels common throughout England and Wales, concentric circles, intersecting lines creating crosses, and the letters “M” and “V” for Virgin Mary were common markings used for protection from evil.
Other Apotropaios objects found hidden in the walls and under the floors of old buildings in England include “dried cats, horse skulls, old shoes, witch bottles, and written curses and charms.”
Ms. Lola Taplin had lived at Fleece Inn her entire life, and might still be worrying about evil witches entering the Inn because her spirit is said to still be there “throwing food, glasses and other objects at both the staff and visitors alike.” Some locals say she appears as an owl that watches over the inn from the roof of a thatched barn.
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