"They would have burned me. They had their fire ready out there in that yard, but I showed them my powers!"
Lucinda Jessup
Witching Time
Series Hammer House of Horror
Season 1, Episode 1
Hammer House of Horror 1x01 001.jpg
Air date April 12th, 1980
Writers Anthony Read
Director Don Leaver
Producers Brian Lawrence
David Reid
Roy Skeggs
Starring Jon Finch; Patricia Quinn; Prunella Gee; Ian McCulloch
Episode guide
"The Thirteenth Reunion"

"Witching Time" is the premiere episode of Hammer House of Horror, a one-hour television series that aired in the United Kingdom from April to December of 1980. The plot of "Witching Time" centers around David Winter who finds an unexpected house guest in the form of a three-hundred-year-old witch named Lucinda Jessup. Lucinda decides to take control of David and use him as an instrument to do away with his wife, Mary -- the only one who stands between David and Lucinda.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

David Winter is a film score composer who lives at the ancient Woodstock Farm estate in rural England. His wife, Mary, is an actress in a thriller and is currently in London on a film shoot. What David doesn't know however, is that Mary is cheating on him with his personal physician, Doctor Charles Henderson. Mary calls David to tell him that she will need to stay in the city for another night. David is agitated with her, already suspecting that she might be unfaithful.

After he hangs up the telephone, a terrible thunderstorm erupts overhead, temporarily knocking out the power. David goes out to the stables to check on Mary's horse, Muffin, to make sure that the storm didn't spook the animal into breaking through the stall. The horse is fine, but what David finds is a young woman wearing a black robe lying in the hay. He rouses her, and the woman appears to be consumed with excitement. She introduces herself as Lucinda Jessup, and claims to be a witch who was born right here at Woodstock Farm in the year 1627. She used her powers to escape from the witch finders, and propel herself through time to the year 1980. David doesn't really believe her story, but offers her shelter inside the main house.

He brings Lucinda inside and introduces her to several modern conventions such as electricity and running water. At first, she is terrified by such things, but eventually calms down. Fearing that she might be mad, David locks her away inside an old nursery. He then telephones Doctor Charles Henderson and asks him to come by the house. When Henderson arrives, David tells him about the strange woman and takes him upstairs. When he unlocks the nursery however, Lucinda is nowhere to be found. Charles feels that David is overworked and has been drinking too much, so he gives him a sedative to calm him down.

After Henderson leaves, Lucinda reappears. She proves to David that she is truly a witch and uses her powers to seduce him. As they make love, Lucinda rakes her fingernails across David's back, branding him with her mark.

Mary Winter returns home the following morning. David tries to explain to her what happened the previous evening, but like Doctor Henderson, she feels that David is hallucinating. Leaving David alone, she consults with Henderson.

She goes back inside the house and goes to her room. What she finds there is a twitching black bird covered in blood lying on her bed. She screams out for David who runs upstairs. She blames him for leaving the bird there, but he denies it. He calms Mary down and tells her he will dispose of the dying animal. While David busies himself with this unpleasant duty, Mary goes out riding on her horse. David digs a hole and tosses the dead bird inside of it. He then strikes the head of the animal with his shovel, but it is Mary, who ends up bearing the scar from the shovel blade upon her face. David looks down into the hole and momentarily sees his wife in place of the dead bird. Consumed by this illusion, he cradles the bloody corpse to his face. Lucinda's maniacal laughter can be heard echoing all around him.

Mary returns to the house and goes into the bathroom to dress her wound. As she turns towards the bath tub, she sees that it is filled with blood. She screams and runs out of the room. As she descends the staircase, a statue from above falls off its pedestal and nearly hits her. When she finds David, she accuses him of trying to kill her. David insists that it is the work of the witch, but Mary doesn't believe him. Inside their bedroom, they find out just how powerful Lucinda's magic truly is. Lucinda generates a tremendous whirlwind that tosses books, clothing and furniture all across the room. Mary begins to believe David's claims.

The next day, Mary consults with a priest. She describes the recent events and the priest believes that it might be the work of a poltergeist or someone gifted with the power of telekinesis. She asks the man if he could perform a rite of exorcism over the house, but he doesn't feel this would satisfy her witch problems.

Later on, Mary goes out riding again. Operating from behind the scenes, Lucinda puts a hex on Mary, forcing her to fall from her horse. She is taken to the hospital and spends three days healing from her injuries. During this time, Lucinda cements her hold over David. She torments him at length and forces him to bed with her.

When Mary returns home, she finds her bedroom in total shambles. The walls and mirror are covered in red and the word "strumpet" is painted across the door. She also finds a small voodoo doll fashioned in her image and deduces that this is how Lucinda was able to harm her.

David, now completely under Lucinda's power, finds Mary and drags her downstairs whereupon he locks her in the cellar. He then follows Lucinda out to the old barn where he begins preparing a bonfire. Mary eventually finds a way to get free and David chases her back to the barn. She gets the upper hand though and manages to lock him inside. Lucinda Jessup finally appears fully before Mary Winter. Mary still has the voodoo doll and tries to remold it so that it looks like Lucinda and not her. Lucinda knocks the doll out of her hand and the two grapple with one another. Mary tries to push Lucinda towards the blazing bonfire, but Lucinda laughs at her, citing that "Fire is my element". Instead, Mary picks up a bucket of water and throws it on the witch, who recoils in fear. Realizing that Lucinda is afraid of drowning, she grabs her and pushes her into a horse trough and drowns her. Lucinda's body disappears. Afterward, she frees David from the barn and the two begin to walk away. Mary picks up the voodoo doll and tosses it into the bonfire. Lucinda's ghostly cries of anguish can be heard all around.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Premiere episode of the series.
  • Actor Jon Finch was originally cast to play the part of Kane in Alien, but had to drop out on the first day of filming because of a severe attack of diabetes. [1]
  • Mary's efforts to re-sculpt the voodoo doll into the likeness of Lucinda Jessup is ultimately fruitless. Lucinda manages to knock the thing out of her hand before she has the opportunity to use it. Also, the tactic would have failed anyway. To have a voodoo doll assigned to a specific target, some element of the individual must be included in the doll's construction, such as a lock of hair. Mary had none of Lucinda's personal effects to fuse with the doll and as such, it would have proven useless anyway.

Bloopers[edit | edit source]

  • During the power outage, David attempts to light a candelabra, but only succeeds in lighting two of the three candles.

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Keywords[edit | edit source]

1627; 17th century; 1980s; Actress; Birds; Charles Henderson; Clergy; Composer; David Winter; Dead animals; Doctor; Drowning; England; Female topless nudity; Horses; Lucinda Jessup; Mary Winter; Nun; Rector; Voodoo; Witches

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