Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions No.12: Black Bowers

This house, which can be found in a street not far removed from Northwich High Road, is marked by one of the increasingly rare Black Bowers which, a few decades ago, were a more common sight within the Horsingdon Triangle. Typically, A Black Bower would be erected by many households outside their front door on All Hallow's Eve, symbolising a doorway between worlds - 'marking a welcome to 'Those Who Wait'' as a local resident once explained the custom to me. Apparently this was less a genuine invitation than a propitiation of whatever visitant might come calling if were the offer of a welcome not made - especially on that night of the year when the skein separating the world from the Outside becomes porous.

Less commonly, other inhabitants of the region would display a Black Bower permanently outside their abodes, marking their status as what were once called cunning folk - but of a more disreputable demeanour. These were the people you'd go to if something long-lost needed finding, or if a maiden needed wooing, or a rival needed hexing - or if you wanted to speak with the dead. These were the folk who were seen to have a singular attachment to 'Those Who Wait': folk of uncertain ancestry, rumoured to be the product of unnameable couplings, and who ghosted along the margins of things; never trusted and always feared, they were nonetheless seen as a necessary part of the order of things - and thus grudgingly respected; folk who never saw the full span of their days, whose lives never ended well, and who invariably departed this world under a pall of suspicion and under circumstances both uncanny and violent.

This house is one I shall take pains to avoid in the future.

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