Is nan still on the loose?

ABOUT a mile from Buxted is a sleepy locality known as Nan Tuck's Lane. It was Ms Tuck from Rotherfield about 200 years ago who allegedly poisoned her husband.

His murder was soon discovered and for days afterwards Nan evaded her pursuers by climbing over hedges and hiding in hay ricks.

Then, approaching the lane that bears her name, she remembered the medieval custom of sanctuary – that if one could reach a church and touch the altar, a fugitive might escape human punishment.

The thought gave her fresh courage and she ran along the lane towards Buxted Church, a distance of several miles.

However, she was too late. The officials of the law were in hot pursuit. Exhaustion overcame her and, with a last despairing effort, she plunged into a wood.

Her followers were now sure of her capture. But a strange thing happened. She had completely disappeared. For hours they combed the undergrowth for her. But she had vanished into thin air and no-one ever saw her again.

As a mortal that is: For her ghost is said to have since haunted several people in the area. And legend has it that where she met her unknown end in the wood there is a circular patch so unfertile that no vegetation will grow on it.

There was also a witch called Old Martha who lived in a hovel in Plumpton.

Marcus Woodward once wrote: 'During my boyhood I went in great awe of Martha. Outside the back of the Rectory is the steep Barracks Hill and once the old witch chased me down this hill, running backwards and brandishing a long knife.'

Sounds like fun.