Founded by Gloucestershire band Inkubus Sukkubus* in 2016, the Tales of Witchcraft & Wonder events were established to celebrate the folklore and dark folk tales of Great Britain, more specifically Gloucestershire and the West Country.
The first event was held at Gloucester’s historic Blackfriars Priory in September 2016, comprising performances on pipe & tabor by Gwilym Davies, storytelling by local author and historian Kirsty Hartsiotis, and music from Inkubus Sukkubus, raising £2,284 for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. It also coincided with the launch of the first of Inkubus Sukkubus’ ToWW trilogy of albums, Barrow Wake.
The following year, 2017, saw the release of the second album in the trilogy – Belas Knap. To celebrate its release, Inkubus Sukkubus organised a weekend takeover of the entirety of St Briavels Castle in the Forest of Dean – Midsummer at the Castle – where for two days, music, talks, storytelling, ghost hunts and even a Pagan handfasting were enjoyed. Around 60 people – including the band – stayed within the ancient walls and managed to get two good nights' sleep, despite the resident ghosts.
In 2018, the band released the third album in the trilogy – Sabrina: The Goddess of the Severn – and organised two separate ToWW events in celebration. One was held at the historic Minsterworth Village Hall on the banks of the River Severn – featuring storytelling by Chloe of Midnight Storytellers, performance poetry by Peter Wyton, and dancing by Styx of Stroud – and the other in the ancient barn at National Trust-owned The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Worcestershire – also with Chloe storytelling, and all-female Morris side Boss Morris dancing in the evening sunshine.
2019 saw the band enlisting the help of the brilliant Exmouth Shanty Men as support and taking Tales of Witchcraft & Wonder to three venues in the South West: Exeter, Boscastle and Penzance. The acapella shanty men joined the band each night on singing the Inkubus Sukkubus song Lost to the Sea, vowing to record it together a some point (note to selves!). The band also returned to Minsterworth Village Hall, where they were joined by historian and archivist John Putley in his guise as ‘The Witchfynder’, and Border Morris dancers Styx of Stroud.
In 2020 and 2021, the Covid pandemic hit the world, and so Inkubus Sukkubus joined other performers globally in doing live streams, while aching to get back out there and meet living, breathing human beings again. It was a tough time for all, although Mother Nature was able to recharge while there were no cars on the road and no planes in the sky...
At the end of September in 2022, Tales of Witchcraft & Wonder was held as a two-day affair within the Tudor buildings and extended site of The Folk of Gloucester on the city’s historic Westgate Street. Throughout the buildings over the two days were a series of stalls, while The Secret Garden Café and courtyard bar helped raise funds to go towards preservation of the buildings. Performers over the weekend gave their time and creativity to the fund, and included the WITCH play by Devon-based Circle of Spears; a witchcraft talk by Kirstie Bingham of John Moore Museum in Tewkesbury; a presentation by author Keith Healing; ritualistic music and dance by Blackthorn (Herefordshire) and Boss Morris (Stroud); a selling exhibition by Decadent Drawing of Whitby; storytelling by authors Kirsty Hartsiotis and Anthony Nanson; dance from Merrie Morgana; and music from Davey Dodds, Bygonz, Ominous Folk of Hopeless Maine, Swing Rioters, Sproatly Smith and Inkubus Sukkubus.
The final figure raised from the September 2022 event at The Folk of Gloucester was a fantastic £3,300. The early-16th-century and mid-17th-century buildings have recently been put on Historic England's 'Heritage at Risk Register', and so this money will go some way in helping to protect the beautiful and historically-important buildings for future generations.
Visit thefolkofgloucester.co.uk to find out more.
The Folk of Gloucester
The Tales of Witchcraft & Wonder events were established in 2016 by Gloucestershire band Inkubus Sukkubus as a way of celebrating the dark folklore and customs of Great Britain.They have variously been held in specially-chosen historic venues – such as Blackfriars Priory; St Briavels Castle; The Barn at The Fleece, Bretforton; and The Folk of Gloucester.
In 2024, the band is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, and so they've chosen the magical surroundings of May Hill in the Forest of Dean to mark the occasion (the Gloucestershire 'witches' hill' with the distinctive clump of trees on top). Weekend tickets include camping in a private woodland clearing – featuring stone barn with wood-burning stove and kitchen, outside firepits, gas-fired showers and composting toilets – and run from Friday, April 26 to Monday, April 29, 2024.
Tickets also include entry to a special evening on Saturday, April 27 at May Hill Village Hall – just a few minutes' walk from the campsite. As ever, the band will be joined by their creative friends, so expect storytelling, Border Morris dancing, ghostly tales, music, magick, licensed bar and comradeship.
Weekend Ticket Link
‘One of our land’s most individual and interesting Gothic folk-rock bands now proves that it can deal as
effectively with prose as music, in a mixture of stories old and new, of horror, beauty and romance, that
capture perfectly the magical and mystical heritage of one of England’s most remarkable counties.’
Professor Ronald Hutton
A woman falls under the spell of a poisonous plant.
A young man discovers a mermaid, washed up on the shore.
A mysterious body is discovered hidden in the trunk of a tree.
An orphaned ape is raised as a child in a Cotswold village.
An old man’s body is discovered on a hill, mysteriously
pinned to the ground as though believed a witch.
These are some of the folkloric tales told in the songs of Inkubus Sukkubus in their trilogy of albums,
Tales of Witchcraft & Wonder. In this book, founder members and songwriters
Candia and Tony McKormack further research the stories, to explore the meaning behind the tales – the theories, the magic,
the romance, and the horror.
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UK Price £15 (plus £2.50 P&P)
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All albums and Book available signed from inkubussukkubus.org