By Louise Ramsden.
'If a child is ill, split a sapling longitudinally, pass the baby through the cleft three times, and then seal up the tree.
The tree will absorb the child's illness and the child will remain well as long as the tree is sealed'.
So says the ancient Warwickshire custom of tree splitting.
There are still some trees in the county which show evidence of having been split in such a way.
A father who is worried about the health of his child happens upon the custom in a book he has borrowed from the library.
When conventional medicine fails him, he cuts a nearby tree and passes the child through it, and won't allow anyone near him or the tree until it is healed.