Some think of it as the witch’s finger while others know it as her wooden leg.
Whatever you believe (or don’t believe) about the oak tree growing within St Mary’s Church in East Somerton, there is no doubt the ruins are the perfect setting for all sorts of tales.
I’d heard of the crumbling church in the woods before but I was reminded of it recently by a story in one of the newspapers I used to write for. This time it captured my imagination and I knew I needed to visit.
Dating from the 15th century, it is thought the grade II perpendicular-style church was in use up until the last part of the 17th century, although latterly as a private chapel for the inhabitants of nearby Burnley Hall.
Only the roofless nave and tower remain but it’s easy to imagine how impressive it once was. Nature is very much reclaiming it now, in a rather beautiful way, with the oak tree at its heart.
According to one, rather gruesome, version, a witch with a wooden leg was caught near the church and buried alive underneath the nave. From her leg, the mighty tree grew, destroying the church as retribution for her death.
It’s said if you walk around the tree times, her spirit is released. I wish I hadn’t told Mark that because, not one to believe in “such rubbish”, he just had to give it a go. Rather him than me.
There are other spooky tales attributed to the site, and it’s clear from graffiti carved into the stone that many people have come across it over the years, but as I wandered about I felt nothing but peace.
Surrounded by lush new spring growth, and with the sounds of gentle bird song (and the odd jackdaw) I’d go as far to say I felt serene. I certainly wasn’t in any hurry to leave.
Top tip: We were parked almost next to it and, despite its size, still didn’t spot it. Rather helpfully, there is a sign at the end of the road pointing you in the right direction.
* I’ve added this post to the wonderful #MySundayPhoto linky. Please click on the camera below to find out what other people have captured this week.