All at East End Tours agree that summer has barely left the building, but we are already so close to the big holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Oh yes. Halloween is coming (fast) and aside from being the one time of year where you can enjoy sweets for breakfast and scare everyone out of their wits on purpose, it is an incredibly fun time of year for children and adults alike.

Even if you’re too old to go Trick-or-Treating, Halloween is the perfect time to go ghost hunting, witch finding or simply to take a spooky tour of London and its deepest, darkest corners.

It might be that you go on a late night tour of the city’s alleys to retrace the gruesome footsteps of Jack the Ripper, or it might be that you hold a fun mini witch hunt for your little ones and their friends. Whatever way you choose to bring Halloween to life this October, we believe that you should always know your facts.

So, in honour of the spookiest time of year and the witches we have come to associate with it, we have compiled the below guide, explaining the top five traditional ways to hunt a witch. So read on and swot up on the weird and wonderful ways you can spot a wicked witch this Halloween (Note: Please don’t actually conduct any of these tests – they are for entertainment purposes only!).

  1.  Check for moles, birthmarks, scars and extra nipples – they are all marks of the Devil
  • The presence of any of these marks is an indicator of witchcraft, but picking at them with a knife is a ‘fool proof’ way to confirm. If it doesn’t hurt or bleed when scratched, cut or punctured, you have yourself a witch.
  • Rumour has it that some witch hunters in the famous Salem Witch Trials used retractable blades, to make it look like their test subjects had been punctured but failed to react. Needless to say, this is cheating and not a great way for you to discern real wicked witches from unfortunate individuals. Click here for East End ghost walks!
  1.  Take note of those talking to themselves
  • Whether this is considered part of a crazed witch’s personality or a conversation between her and her devilish master, someone seen talking to themselves should raise suspicions because they could well be a witch.
  • This was the case for Sarah Good in the Salem Witch Trials; she was often seen talking to herself, and so she was considered a witch. Of course, she claimed she was reciting the 10 Commandments and various psalms, but the witch hunters thought differently and deemed that Sarah Good – or anyone else muttering to themselves – must be a witch.
  1.  See if they have any familiars
  • The iconic Halloween image of a witch sat on a broomstick, with a pointed hat and black cat may seem stereotypical, but there is some truth to it. The general consensus for the last few centuries has been that witches – good, bad or ugly – have familiars. These familiars could be dogs, mice, birds, rats and most traditionally, cats (particularly black cats). Why? Because they need someone to do their bidding, whether that be spying on their next victim or gathering ingredients for a new spell. For more gruesome tales visit our website!
  • If a man or woman has a cat or other familiar-type pet, observe if they talk to them, confide in them or treat them in an unusual manner. If they do, it is likely that the creature is in cahoots with the suspected witch, and is likely to be just as dangerous.
  1.  Test whether or not they float
  • Perhaps one of the best known tests for witch-finding, the trial-by-water inspired swimming test would determine whether or not somebody was a witch, based on their swimming ability (or lack of).
  • The suspected witch would be stripped to their undergarments, bound and thrown into the nearest body of water. If they floated they were confirmed a witch and put to death as punishment. On the other hand, if they sunk they would be deemed innocent of witchcraft. Unfortunately, it was common for people to sink and accidentally drown before being retrieved and having their innocence restored.
  1.  Watch how their victims react
  • The first test that uses the victim as a witch-o-meter is the touch test, where the witch’s touch has the power to bring victim out from under their spell. The suspected witch is brought in to touch those afflicted by spells and fits, and if the possessed come out of their fit, the witch is identified. If, however, there is no reaction, the accused should be cleared.
  • The other test that uses the victims’ reactions is the incantation or ‘charging’ test, where the accused have to verbally demand the Devil to release the victim from their fit. If the possessed is freed, the accused is indeed a witch. This test was made famous by the trial of Alice Samuel and her family in the 16th century, who were all found guilty of witchcraft and hanged.

Now, these tests seem a little extreme – especially if all you’re after is some role-playing Halloween fun. But it is always interesting to know the history behind some of our most entertaining holidays and intriguing historical events.

Of course, if you don’t fancy going out and hunting for mole-covered, cat-loving people muttering to themselves on city streets, there’s plenty more to explore in London this Halloween. You can scare yourself silly learning more about a real life monster on a Jack the Ripper tour or simply learn more on a London tour from, which will teach you all about the city’s terrible tales and darkest secrets. Either way, make this Halloween a real occasion and spend it having lots of fun and even more frights!