Hex Appeal – Witches’ Brew

In 1949 Pamela Green joined Spielplatz Naturist Club in Bricket Wood, near St. Albans. Another famed member was Ross Nichols (1902-1975), founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Ross was a committed naturist and joined the utopian Spielplatz community in Hertfordshire in the 1930s. A neighbouring naturist club, The Fiveacres Country Club, was also home to a coven of witches.

Gerald Garner (1884 – 1964), who in the first half of the 20th century popularised the pagan religion of Wicca, had brought some land in Fiveacres in 1946. For Garner, a keen nudist, the naturist club was the ideal venue to be skyclad. He purchased and transplanted the Elizabethan witch’s cottage from the renowned Abbey Folk Park at New Barnet, which had been forced to close due to wartime bombing. The cottage became the centre of The Bricket Wood Coven’s rites and rituals. Many important and influential figures in Wicca were members of the coven, including the High Priestess Doreen Valiente, Jack Bracelin, and Eleanor Bone.

Gerald Garner  would often visit Ross Nichols at Spielplatz. Long evenings when they would talk late into the night was the norm. Ross Nichols ended up helping Gerald Garner with his first work of non-fiction, Witchcraft Today (1954). Witchcraft Today is one of the foundational texts for the religion of Wicca, along with Gardner’s second book on the subject, The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959) of which Pam had a first edition on her shelf, along with other books on the subject.

Continuing the witches theme, Pam named her cat Pyewacket. Pyewacket was one of the familiars detected by the witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins in Manningtree, Essex, in 1644. He is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 300 so-called witches, all women, between the years 1644 and 1646. In 1959 Pam and George Harrison Marks purchased a boat at the Earl’s Court Boat Show. They named her Pyewacket as well. She was kept in a boatyard in Maidenhead.

In 1967 44 Gerrard Street, opposite Pam and George’s place, became known as Happening 44 – an über-hip psychedelic club run by light show artist Jack Braceland, His company, Five Acre Lights, was named after Fiveacres nudist club where Pink Floyd played a gig on Guy Fawkes night in 1966.

Below is a publicity shot of Pamela Green from the 8mm striptease film Witches’ Brew (1960).

I wondered what happened to the witch’s cottage? Does anyone know? If you do drop me a line.

  1. Magpie’s avatar

    I don’t know if the cottage is still there, but on his death Gardner left the Fiveacres Club, including the cottage, to Jack Bracelin, who abandoned Wicca shortly after. He continued to run the club and allowed the Coven to continue using the cottage as long as they paid rent. In 1975 he tried to modify the agreement to require the Wiccans to pay for electricity for the nudist club as well as the rent on the cottage, so they told him to get stuffed and sold their shares in the club to another member and left for good.

    Sorry it’s not a lot of info, but hopefully it helps.

    Reply

    1. meisteryak’s avatar

      Thanks.. Every bit of info helps. I might just take a visit up there later in the year.

      Reply

  2. Sarah’s avatar

    The witches cottage that was originally built in the 1600s is intact, alive and well, and is still nestling within the grounds of Fiveacres Nudist Club.

    Reply

  3. Jennie Lee Cobban’s avatar

    I researched fully the history of the witch’s cottage for my 1997 book Geoffrey de Mandeville and London’s Camelot which is due to be reissued by Barnet Museum towards the end of this year – pretty full details of its history included. Incidentally the Folk Museum didn’t close because of bombing – it closed due to Ward and his Confraternity being prosecuted!

    Reply

    1. meisteryak’s avatar

      Sounds interesting. What was Ward being prosecuted for?

      Reply

      1. Jennie Lee Cobban’s avatar

        Ward and his wife were sued by a Barnet man for enticing his daughter into his Confraternity of Christ the King…

        Reply

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