Monday, August 25, 2014

A week (and a bit) in the life of an intern by Chloe Francis...

Working at the museum, even for such a short amount of time, has been one of the most eye opening and fantastic experiences I've ever had. When I emailed Judith in April, just after Simon took over as director, I was incredibly dubious as to whether or not the prospect of an intern would be welcomed. I remember in the days from sending the first email to getting the reply from Judith, I was sat on the decking back home in Matlock with my mum saying "oh god, what if I've made a huge mistake? What if nothing comes of this email" but, ever the wise one, she said "well you're not going to lose anything just by asking them!" And that enquiry was one of the best decisions of my life. This place has captivated me and intrigued me since I was 12/13 and found the museum by complete chance looking for a logo to sew onto a bag in textiles class! Hard to believe that was seven years ago now! (Unfortunately the teacher didn't let me use the iconic black witch on a broomstick silhouette which sits proudly on one of the doors. It was eye opening enough learning that the iconic door was not the entrance!)

Sadly, due to the season, I wasn't able to spend as much time in the museum as I would have liked to, but thankfully enough time to get to know the museum, have a taste of what it's like to work in a museum and, I hope, make some very good friends in Judith, Pete and Joyce. In fact Joyce has completely opened my eyes to things I wouldn't have seen before such as the Pendle Witch Trials and I've had many a long conversation sat in the booth about Witchcraft, writing books, making jokes about really ridiculous things, all in between serving customers and munching on the massive pasties from the bakers!

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have been an incredibly LUCKY intern this year. I've been allowed to handle artefacts, leaf through original documents, assist in the day to day jobs around a museum, catalogue some of the books which were bequeathed to the library and assist in finding a document someone was using for research. Oh, and was allowed to attend a book launch (see photos) which ended up with some of the Friends, Joyce, the author and me sat in the pub with various drinks! Possibly one of the more surreal nights of my life so far as we covered everything from Theology, Celtic History, the Vikings, Witchcraft (as you'd expect) and the history of Christianity in the British Isles. The book launch itself was fascinating as I had never heard of Cecil Williamson before coming here, yet I was standing at the back of the top gallery, taking pictures on a bad quality iPhone camera, listening to this guy talking about the life of a man who, I've now come to understand, was a complete character and who did some amazing things, a view which was reinforced by looking through the archive of his letters, positively laughing loudly, gasping at some of the things he was saying and plenty of exclamations of "oh my god!"

Judith, Pete and Joyce have moved heaven and earth to accommodate me at the museum for such a short space of time, something for which I am so incredibly thankful for as it wouldn't have been the same if it hadn't have been for them. The people of Boscastle have been so friendly and welcoming, with several interesting conversations in lunch breaks and wandering around prior to the door being unlocked for us to go in and clean the place up before it opens each day. The museum is a hidden gem and Boscastle provides the perfect backdrop to the quirky, unconventional, and incredibly relaxed museum. I cannot think of a better place to have spent two of the absolute best weeks of my life then the Museum of Witchcraft!

To Joyce, Judith and Pete, thank you ever so much for making me feel so welcome here!  Special shout out the Hannah who I didn't see very much but who is, I know, an essential and valued member of the Museum team.  

And thanks to Chloe from all at the Museum!  You can see her legacy in action by buying her leaflet on Magic in the North from the Museum shop or by looking at her temporary exhibition on the Flood in the upstairs gallery.  

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