The Bishop and the Witch

The Bishop and The Witch

AA Prideaux 2015

The story of ‘The Bishop and the Witch’ takes place between 1596 and 1608.

John Prideaux was born near Dartmoor in 1578 and eventually became Bishop of Worcester.  He spent most of his adult life at Exeter College, Oxford as Regius Professor and Vice Chancellor.

He was involved in many of the important events which took place in England during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I. When John Prideaux gave evidence in 1606 at the Star Chamber about Anne Gunter, he did so as a well-known and respected Oxford academic.

Anne Gunter was a young woman from North Moreton who was abused and mistreated by her squire father. She was also under the influence of her mother and her friends. Anne was haunted and pursued by local witches, who inflicted her with fits, demon possessions and brought her near to death.

At the 1604 Witch Trial at Abingdon her alleged tormentors, Elizabeth Gregory, Agnes and Mary Pepwell were ultimately found to be innocent. Anne was sent to stay with Henry Cotton, the Bishop of Salisbury until her father confronted the King and asked him to intervene in the bewitching case.

King James took a personal interest in Anne’s troubles and put her under the control of Richard Bancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Anne later confessed to King James that her symptoms were faked on the instructions of her father, Brian Gunter. He was arrested and faced his accusers at the Star Chamber in 1606.

Anne Gunter was given a dowry by King James and she disappeared from the history books. History does not tell us what happened to Anne Gunter, but A A Prideaux provides us with a potential solution.NPG D22907; John Prideaux by William Faithorne

A A Prideaux tells the story of the possible meeting of John Prideaux and Anne Gunter at a much earlier time and how that meeting could have had a bearing on the outcome of the trial. A witches’ coven, sex and drugs play their part in this horror tale set against the atmospheric backdrop of a developing Oxford and the surrounding villages. The plague, religious fervour and small town gossip accompany demons and ghosts on the journey. The witches influence spread across Oxfordshire and reached into many influential households. Anne Gunter and John Prideaux come together in a terrifying episode which neither of them predicted. . We discover who the real witches were and how John struggled with his faith and his sanity during his involvement with the Gunter family.

Most of the characters playing a part in this story actually lived.

This is an alternative tale of real life events based on historical facts and a lot of artistic license.

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