Read about this ‘witch’ or Bellarmine bottle, found at the Peacock Hotel.
The bottle, which has its handle missing, was found in 1955 under a floor of the Peacock Hotel and has been dated from around the 16th to 17th century. It is called Bellarmine because it got its name from a cardinal called ‘Robert Bellarmine’, who published a lot of anti-Protestant literature in Holland. He was a bitter opponent of the Dutch Reformed Church. The face on the bottle is his and it became common for Protestants who disliked him to smash the jugs and shout his name!
Bottles like this were also known as ‘witch bottles’. People believed that filling them with things like iron pins, urine, hair, or other charms and burying them would help protect against a curse. Some bottles and other charms have been found by doors and windows or beneath floors and it is thought this was to stop evil spirits entering buildings.
You can see the Bellarmine bottle, alongside another charm, in the Religion and Belief case of Harborough Museum.
The Peacock Hotel
The Peacock Inn, which opened in 1872, got its name from the peacock sculpture on the building’s chimney and was on the corner of St Mary’s Road with an archway at the side of it. When the original Peacock Inn was demolished, to enable St. Mary’s Road to be widened, the new inn was joined to the dwelling next to it and formed the Peacock Hotel. The archway beside it was pulled down and this is now the entrance to St Mary’s Place, a thriving pedestrian walkway full of shops and cafes.
Our thanks to Janet, one of our volunteers, for researching and writing this post!