A CAMPAIGN has been launched to remember the victims of the infamous witch hunts in Manningtree with a new memorial in the town.

Residents say there should be recognition of the atrocity and a memorial is a missing part of the town's history.

More than 300 women are believed to have been executed for witchcraft between 1644 and 1646, many at the hands of Mistley’s infamous self-proclaimed witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins.

He is thought to have lived at what is now the Mistley Thorn and held preliminary examinations of those accused of witchcraft at the White Hart, in Manningtree.

Grace Carter, director of her own business We Are Aphra, said: "When we knew we would be moving to Lawford in January this year, I started to research the history of the area.

"Despite having grown up in Ipswich and studying the Early Modern period at university, I didn’t fully understand just how connected Manningtree was with the witch trials.

"I was immediately struck by the injustice that the many women had faced, but also surprised to learn that there wasn’t a memorial in the town, despite it being the home of the Witch Hunter General – and the place where so many women were vilified for being witches.

“Although I know some memorials are currently being planned, including one at Colchester Castle where many women were taken to be condemned, I feel we should have something more local to reflect the women in Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley who died during the witch trials."

Grace has researched Matthew Hopkins, thought to have lived at the Thorn Inn in Mistley and a house that once stood next to the Red Lion Pub.

She added: "There’s also hearsay that he used the lake near the Mistley Farm Park for “swimming” the women i.e. dunking them in water to see who drowned and who survived.

“Although the history behind the witch hunts is fascinating to learn about – as well as horrifying to discover – my motivation is not to celebrate Matthew, who was a bully and a murderer, but instead to have a memorial in the town dedicated to all of Matthew’s victims, of which there are many.

"Everyone knows the name of the Witch Hunter General. However, a lot of people locally only know the women as being 'the witches'.

"Yet each of them was a person with their own identity, and I feel they should be remembered as such.

"I do also think more information being available to visitors about what happened all those years ago could be beneficial.”

"We have the Shakespeare plaque and the memorial for the soldiers who fought in the wars – the memorial for the women accused of being witches seems like a missing piece of the town's history.”