The Witch of Getliffe Yard.
There is an area in the centre of the town of Leek located in the Staffordshire Moorlands which is known as Getliffe’s Yard. In this day and age it has been converted into a small shopping arcade, however if you look carefully you can still see many original features which date back to a bygone age.
Although I cannot be sure of the exact date of the following story I would place it around the 1830s. The story regarding the Witch of Getliffe’s yard is as follows: Many years ago there lived in Getliffe’s yard, Derby street, two well known woman, who were never on the most friendly of terms. One made a living by baking and selling oatcakes and was industrious and respectable. The other made a living by practising as a fortune teller and a black and white witch. Like all reputed witches she had a black cat, which, from superstitious reasons, was by no means a favourite with the people who lived in the yard, as some evil spirit was supposed to inhabit its body.
The oatcake baker dreaded the cat more than her neighbours, as everything went wrong when the cat was in her house. For instance, she had noticed that whenever the cat was in the room that the cakes broke in turning and were otherwise spoiled, which she attributed to the evil spirit in the cat. On one occasion when her temper had been tried beyond measure, and a cake was baked on one side and very hot on the other, by means of the cake spriddle she threw the hot leaven on the cat’s back. Scalded and mewing the cat ran into the house of its owner – the reputed witch. The oatcake baker was delighted with her success so far, but to rid herself of the unwelcome visits of the cat in the future she determined to give the witch a bit of her mind, but to her astonishment when she went round to confront the witch the cat was not there, however the witch was in the act of combing the leaven out of her own hair. The story was at once told to the neighbours who all agreed that the witch had transformed herself into a cat to work evil, then re-transformed into her own person.