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The Witches and the Grinnygog

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Wikipedia article

'The Witches and the Grinnygog' is a children's novel by the writer Dorothy Edwards, published in 1981 and shortlisted for that year's Whitbread Prize for a children's book.

'The Witches and the Grinnygog' is a story of pre-Christian traditions, considered in the middle ages to be witchcraft, surviving into the modern world, and deals with various themes related to English folklore, ghosts and time slips.

Plot summary

When an ancient English church is moved to a new site, one stone a strange statue, the Grinnygog of the title is found to be missing. Its accidental rediscovery (by a woman who, not realising its significance, gives it to her elderly father as a pseudo garden gnome) coincides with the arrival in the same town of three eccentric old women who seem to be looking for something lost or hidden many years before, and a nervous, "other-worldly" child. The townsfolk find themselves looking into their collective past but it takes a group of children to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make amends for an ancient injustice.

The story is notable in modern popular culture for its portrayal of witches as something other than evil old hags.


The story was adapted as a six-episode television miniseries produced by Television South in the UK in 1983 and subsequently broadcast in the US, Canada New Zealand and Israel.

The TV series featured Patricia Hayes as Miss Bendybones, Adam Woodyatt and Anna Wing and was filmed in and around Titchfield and Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire. It was adapted by Roy Russell and directed by Diarmuid Lawrence, with music by James Harpham. It was shown on Nickelodeon in the United States as part of the anthology series The Third Eye.

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