England’s oldest visitor attraction is a cave with a genuine petrifying well inside. The well turns every day objects into stone by an entirely natural phenomenon caused by the high mineral content of the water. In Mother Shipton’s lifetime the well was seen as supernatural.
There are many legends about the prophecies of Mother Shipton, who was born and lived in the cave. She is said to have foretold the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the death of Cardinal Wolsey and the end of the world. Even when threatened with burning Mother Shipton refused to change her prophecies.
Ursula Southill was born during a violent thunder storm. Her mother was an unmarried fifteen year old girl. The young mother must have been in a desperate situation because she gave birth inside the cave which is situated in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
The Abbott of Beverley took pity on the single mother and her child. He found a local family to take in the little girl, aged two and her mother was taken to a nunnery.
Local legend says that little Ursula was an extremely ugly child who was mocked and teased by the villagers for her looks. She hid in the cave until she was twenty-four. Then she married Tobias Shipton who was a carpenter from the city of York. Tobias died before they had any children.
Ursula told fortunes and predicted future events to make a living. She predicted that Cardinal Wolsey who was the Archbishop of York from 1514 to 1530, ‘would see York, but never go to it.’
Wolsey was livid and sent his henchmen to make her change her prophesy or be burnt. Shipton refused to retract her statement and defiantly told his men that Wolsey ‘would die on the pavements of York.’
Local legend says that in 1530, Cardinal Wolsey was travelling to York and that he climbed to the top of a tower and saw the city in the distance. Then a messenger from King Henry VIII arrived ordering him to return to London, to be tried of treason. Wolsey died on the way to London before reaching the Tower.
Mother Shipton died in 1561, aged 73. She left many oral prophecies. The prophesies are interesting but they have possibly been embellished over the centuries. One reads:
Carriages without horses shall go, And accidents fill the world with woe. Around the world thoughts shall fly In the twinkling of an eye…. Under water men shall walk, Shall ride, shall sleep and talk; In the air men shall be seen, In white, in black and in green…. Iron in the water shall float, As easy as a wooden boat.
Another much more reassuring prophesy says:
The world to an end shall come
In eighteen hundred and eighty one
A link to the cave for tourists and the shop: http://www.mothershipton.co.uk
How accurate are the prophecies? link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Shipton
Links to the Prophecies: https://starrynews.wordpress.com/othrpred/mother-shiptons-prophecies and https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_shipton01.htm