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Mary Smiths Flying Heart 16th Century

For Norfolk or Suffolk
                  Historic Houses - Click the What to do Link.In 1531 Henry VIII passed an act decreeing that prisoners condemned to death should be boiled alive. 

A local maid of Kings Lynn called mistress Mary Smith was accused of being a witch.

She was tried and found guilty and was condemned to die; the chosen method to be boiling.

On the  day of her execution the unfortunate girl was forced to watch as the fire was lit beneath a huge cauldron of water and had to stand waiting while the water reached boiling point.

Before being lowered into the water, Mary predicted that her heart would burst from her body and fly out and strike the house of the magistrate who had condemned her.

She was lowered into the boiling water from a gantry and was raised and lowered time and time again.

As her screams reached a crescendo it is said that her chest burst open, and her heart was propelled out of her body, and struck the wall of the magistrates house, on the far side of Tuesday Market Place.

The place where the heart is said to have landed is marked by a small diamond shaped brickwork insignia, (containing a heart design) just above the middle of an upstairs window overlooking Tuesday Market.

Henry’s son Edward VI abolished this gruesome method of execution when he succeeded his father as monarch.