Curious as to why Fetheray at The Witch Ball?
Posted on February 09 2020
Customers are often curious about the name of our shop. We've even been discreetly asked if we actually are witches....or sell witchy things!
The Witch Ball in Meeting House Lane, Brighton was first mentioned in Kelly's street directory of 1966 as an antique dealers, and the name has definitely stuck, as it has now been carried through three businesses. When, as a young woman, our Gina first opened her business here, she decided to keep the shop name, and was given a good luck charm by a neighbouring proprietor, the beautiful and rare antique hand blown silvered glass witch ball which still hangs in the shop.
Well, what is a witch ball you may ask? Originally made as display pieces by talented glass blowers, these hand blown balls would often be hung as decorations in the home. It is said the name is a corruption of 'watch ball' as one can see reflections all around in it's mirrored surface and it is this name which has lead to the belief of their magical and protective properties. Obviously, we're taking no chances and ours hangs safely in an alcove like a huge Christmas decoration its wonderful mercury glass lumination gently reflecting the shop. It measures 10 inches in diameter, apparently the largest size which was made.
You can read more about the history of witch balls here; https://innerlives.org/2018/06/11/spheres-of-influence-the-magical-history-of-the-witch-ball/
50 years pass by, until in 2018, we took over the lease, keeping the shop name and effectively becoming one shop within another. Fetheray, the name of the jewellery side of the business, comes from Fitherae, the ancient old Norse name of a small uninhabited island in the Firth of Forth, which story has it formed the basis of the map of Treasure Island in Robert Louis Stevenson's tale of the same name (Stevenson visited Fetheray as his father was a lighthouse engineer). Inhabited only by a large colony of puffins, it is believed that the name 'feather island' refers to the large number found on the island.
Now, the tenuous link is that for many years we worked together at the helm of a business which too had inherited it's name (the more common form of Fetheray) from a previous business and so we chose to adopt this older form of the name as continuity and to show a personal homage to where we had been fortunate enough to hone our craft. And so, one could say our names were chosen for reasons of tribute, heritance and maybe a little superstition.