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Mother Ludlam’s Cave – The place where the Devil stole a cauldron from the white witch

Mother Ludlam's cave
Mother Ludlam's cave

Near Farnham, Surrey, in England, there is a small cave in the sandstone cliff of the Wey Valley at Moor Park, known as Mother Ludlam’s Cave or Mother Ludlum’s Hole.

There are numerous stories about the origins of the cave. There was a monk named Symon who in 1218 described the cave as having a spring that supplied Waverley Abbey. Throughout the centuries there were a lot of different legends about the cave.

The cave in an engraving, published in 1785, showing how it looked at the time of Francis Grose's visit, as described by William Cobbett
The cave in an engraving, published in 1785, showing how it looked at the time of Francis Grose’s visit, as described by William Cobbett

One such story was recorded in the 17th century, about a friendly, old, white witch called Mother Ludlam who used to live in the cave. Mother Ludlam was known in the local village as someone who would lend the people whatever they needed only when under the condition that they would return it within two days.

The entrance to Mother Ludlam's Cave, photographed in 2005. Photo credit
The entrance to Mother Ludlam’s Cave photographed in 2005. Photo credit

Whenever a villager needed something, they would go to the cave where Mother Ludlam lived and ask her to give them what they needed, and they would find it as soon as they get back home, on their doorstep.

However, there was one man who once borrowed a cauldron from the witch and for unknown reasons he failed to return it in two days even though Mother Ludlam reminded him. The witch left her cave in a rage and went to the man to seek vengeance. Upon hearing that he was a wanted man, the borrower sought refuge in Frensham Church and this is where the cauldron remains to this day.

Mother Ludlam's Cauldron in Frensham church. Photo credit
Mother Ludlam’s Cauldron in Frensham Church. Photo credit

Another version of the story says that once the Devil asked Mother Ludlam to lend him a cauldron that she used for making potions. Recognizing the Devil’s hoofprints, the witch refused, and so he stole her cauldron. As he was running away from her, he made great leaps and whenever he touched the ground he was forming hills – these are the hills near Churt, known as the Devil’s Jumps. He finally dropped the cauldron (or kettle) on the last one which is today known as “Kettle Bury,” or “Kettlebury Hill”.

When Mother Ludlam got her cauldron back, she placed it in a safe place where the Devil wouldn’t seek for it – in the Frensham Church.

Long-eared Bat. Photo credit
Long-eared Bat. Photo credit


We have another wacko story for you:The Yungang Grottoes are the best preserved Buddhist cave art in China

Today, the cave is home to a variety of bat species – Natterer’s Bat, Daubenton’s Bat, and Long-eared Bat. Unfortunately, since 1976, the cave is not very approachable after parts of its roof collapsed, and the floor was covered with a large mound of sand. Sounds like the perfect place for Batman’s cave.

Tijana Radeska

Tijana Radeska is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News