Dowles Graveyard – Bewdley, England - Atlas Obscura

Dowles Graveyard

Bewdley, England

The church is gone, but the graves and legends remain.  


Walking along the peaceful banks of the the River Severn, you’d never know what’s lurking in the woods. In the copse of trees is an eerie scene: ivy-covered, sunken graves, a few scattered ruins of a once-magnificent church. 

The site is reached from a winding corpse road across lush green meadows. It was a place of worship serving its local parishioners from its consecration in 1789 until its demolition in 1956, leaving behind only its derelict set of parish rooms.

The “resurrectionists” were a class of criminals who, for a price, aided surgeons across the country with fresh cadavers. Hidden within this burial ground is one of England’s rare examples of a mortsafe—a cage over a grave—which protected the dead from the living. The saddest aspect of this curiosity is its size, which indicates that the grave belonged to a child.

Such a site is obviously a magnet for rumors, legends, and ghost stories—in this case tales of devil worship and Susan Wowen, known as the Bewdley Witch, reputedly so evil that horns grew from her head. According to legend, she shed them ceremonially every few years, with one set reportedly being sent to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Anyone visiting should be respectful to all those who rest there, witches and otherwise. 

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June 29, 2020

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