Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Museum is somewhere you've "got to visit"

We're really happy to share our feature in the next edition of Cornwall Living magazine.  We have a double page spread as part of their regular "Got to visit" feature. If you don't get the magazine, here is our page (with photo by Charlie MacKay).

Cecil Williamson design for a candlestick

We received an email from Wilmar Taal recently.  He has been researching the Richel and Elderman's Collection.  He said "This candleholder shaped like a swastika is attributed to Cecil Williamson in the notes by Eldermans."  This was of great interest to everyone here as Cecil Williamson founded the Museum and ran it until 1996.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fantastic website of folk art

If you like all things corn craft related, you have to look at this site.  Wonderful pieces!  The artist is from South Derbyshire and uses the farming year to create contemporary corn dollies and harvest spirits.!blank/q17v5

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's been going on at the Museum Part Four...

This blog is about the changes that have taken place at the Museum over the winter.

There is a new peep hole display for children (and adults) to enjoy in Images of Witchcraft and Magic - a gingerbread and sweet house inspired by the Hansel and Gretel story.

This is the original text card that went with the object as written by Cecil Williamson (the founder of the Museum).

If you look carefully in this old picture of the Museum, you can see the cauldron and painting to the right of the photo.

Friendly creature outside the Museum

We were sent this photo by a recent visitor.  They saw this creature while they were outside the Museum.  It seems to be some sort of vole (the Wildlife Trust suggests it is a wood mouse).  It crawled on his shoe and was happy to be stroked.  Just another example of the magical place that is Boscastle - there are so many witch's familiars about!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Candlelit Evenings 2016

We are happy to announce the dates for our Candlelit Evenings this year.

For those of you who haven’t attended before, the Museum is open between 8pm and 11pm at night and as the sun goes down visitors can experience this unique collection by candlelight.  It is a great way to see the objects and soak up the atmosphere of one of the world’s best museums…

This year, we will have even more candles in more rooms, as well as torches for visitors who want to read everything!  The dates are as follows:

Saturday 14th May (part of the Museums At Night Festival and the ‘The Web Unspun’ day of talks)
Saturday 4th June
Saturday 23rd July
Saturday 13th August
Saturday 27th August
Saturday 29th October (part of the Museum’s All Hallows Eve extravaganza!)

Start time is 8pm with last entry at around 10.30pm, closing at 11pm.  Normal admission charges apply, tickets to be bought on the door.

We recommend that you book a room in one of the many wonderful Boscastle hotels, YHA hostel, or B&B’s, and come down to the Museum after a meal and a drink in the village (see links below).

Hope to see you soon!

Pagan festivals more popular than ever

We had an incredibly busy year last year (really high visitor numbers, with so many people saying positive things about their visit and buying lots of books in the shop too) so it isn't a surprise to read that interest in Paganism is increasing but I'm sure you'll agree that it is good to hear!  This interesting article looks at the popularity of Pagan festivals such as Beltane and includes suggestions of places to go.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's been happening at the Museum Part Three

Part Three in our themed blogs on the recent works at the Museum focuses on The Richel Collection...

It all started back in the summer when Simon ordered a rather nice cabinet (photographed below after delivery).  It was massive though and took a lot of work to get upstairs!

Hedley, Steve and Peter finally got it upstairs in a somewhat demonlished state!

We took down the old Richel display.  Below: Hannah, Peter and Sarah at work.

All that was left was a rather unsightly white(ish) wall and lots of objects carefully stored in boxes.

Peter painted the area where the cabinet was to go. 
Then the cabinet was put in place, some sides were added, lights installed, Simon arranged the objects and made stands for them (photographed below), the pictures were put up and voila a new display which looks amazing and has attracted a lot of positive feedback.

Part Four coming soon.

Recent research on Richel Collection

One of the most intriguing collections the Museum has is the Richel Collection.  Wilmar Taal, a researcher from the Netherlands, recently spent several days here looking into the Collection.  His book on the subject is due to be published by Troy Books at some point in the next year or so.  You can find out more about his research and see him wearing a Museum T-shirt on his Facebook page.  Worth keeping an eye on for future developments.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New season, new shop stock

The Museum is open for the season again (hooray!)  We've had a very busy Easter period and shop sales have been particularly strong (hooray again!)  Joyce has been working hard to get all the new shop stock items entered onto our online shop.  So if you can't make it to the Museum for a while, you can buy some of our newest shop items via our website:

First of all, books.  We have a large selection of books and they sold really well this year.  We've introduced some new titles for this year here are some of the new titles.

Crowley a Beginner's Guide.  This seemed like an obvious choice as the Museum contains a display on Crowley and visitors are often very interested in him.

We have also stocked a book by the Chairperson of the Friends of the Museum of Witchcraft organisation, Julian Vayne, which is selling well.  It is a collection of essays.

The British Book of Spells and Charms by former Museum Director Graham King continues to prove popular and is also new for this year.

We have introduced some new posters such as the photos taken in February of collections of objects from the Museum collection.  These are now available from our online shop for £4.50 each.

The painting above was framed over winter and is now on display in the top gallery.  We have also made it available as a poster.  Cecil Williamson, the founder of the Museum said of this intriguing painting: 
'If you go down into the woods tonight you will be in for a big surprise. Naked, alone, high up in a tree deep in the heart of a wood at dark of night is quite something. For a start you have left mankind and its brash world behind. Now you are a stranger in the world of nature, the green growing world, where fear is the trigger that releases the spirit force. Like a snail without its shell you are at the mercy of the smallest gnat and then it happens. The spirit cloak of protection descends and enfolds one and you can feel the warmth and well being of the other world. Then it is that you become aware that there are indeed other places and other things. Some describe it as feeling the finger of god upon them, peace, perfect peace. The spirit eyes keep watch over you, you are utterly safe.'

Below are two more posters which are based on paintings in the Museum's collection.

Other new items include wonderful Ram's Skull boxes made by local artist Paul Atlas-Saunders (inspired by the ram's skull in the collection from a witch's shrine on Bodmin Moor).

We have some new cards and prints.  This image appeared in last year's Jos Smith exhibition and can now be purchased as an art card.  A reproduction of this wonderful image can be seen in the new Goddess display.

Another Jos Smith image can now be bought as a card or high quality art print.  It is the Witches in eggshells painting which Jos donated to the Museum and is now part of our Sea Witchcraft display.

The image below is available as an art card or print and was inspired by the Mother Shipton poppet in the Protection display (which was found in a chimney).

Our charm bracelets always sell well and we have two new designs for this year.  One is a Cornish lucky charm bracelet (complete with piskey) and the other is called the Charms of Egypt.  We also have a new jewellery featuring ouija board and fortune telling motifs.

There is lots more and more to come (we have a tea towel, a new bag and a new T-shirt on its way soon!)  We will keep you posted!

Museum of British Folklore exhibitions

Lots of exciting stuff happening with the Museum of British Folklore this year - these exhibitions look great! In case you weren't aware, Simon Costin is Director of the Museum of British Folklore and the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic so if you like what you see at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic then these exhibitions will probably be for you too.

Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival
Beach London x The Museum of British Folklore running from 21st April to 2nd May at Somerset House.

Following on from a collaborative exhibition earlier in the year, Beach London have teamed up with The Museum of British Folklore once again to champion the unusual cultural traditions that continue to be practiced across the British Isles. Work from Heresy, Rob Flowers, Alex May Hughes and Maria Ines Gul will feature alongside the items that inspired the pieces including May Day offerings, traditional outfits and dolls belonging to Morris teams from the museum’s collection.
Excerpt taken from 

For more information see:

Morris Folk at the Weald & Downland Museum
29th April - 12th June 2016
Open Daily 10.30am – 6.00pm

Two years ago the museum began an ongoing project to document the hundreds of Morris sides currently active in Britain by getting the teams to replicate their distinctive costumes in miniature. To make the process easier and to allow the characteristics of the costumes to be highlighted, a plain cloth doll was commissioned. The doll has no features, allowing makers the freedom to embellish it as they see fit. Enabling contributors to have complete artistic expression ensures that the project is truly collaborative, with the resulting dolls being an accurate representation of their respective sides.

The completed dolls have exceeded all expectations - the immense time and care that has been taken to recreate the costumes as faithfully as possible is evident in the finished articles. They have been made with amazing attention to detail: from the inclusion of human hair, to miniature buttons and accessories.

As well as being a more generic document, the dolls sometimes reflect a point in time in a Morris side’s existence. For example, Bakanalia Morris’ captain - or ‘squire’ in Morris parlance - had a broken leg whilst the side’s doll was being created. Consequently, the finished doll is replete with miniature leg splint. This kind of feature is typical of the spirit in which people have contributed to the project.

The Museum of British Folklore will also be taking part in the Caught by the Thames Festival.

For more information on the Museum of British Folklore see:

Friday, April 22, 2016

What's been happening at the Museum Part Two...

Continuing our look at changes to the Museum this winter and continuing upstairs with some minor alterations (before we look at the major ones!).  We re-displayed the Magic in Wartime display and brought out some charms from the Museum store.

We also had a move around in the Curses display to make space for the two headed pig which has returned from its period on loan to the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth.  We also got a couple more items from the store out and put them on display here.

We put a copy of Jos Smith's Maiden/Crone painting next to the blasting rod in cursing as the witch figure in this painting is carrying a similar object.

We also redisplayed the staircase area to have a "Sacred Sites" theme.  This includes: large photos of stone circles, photos of rituals at sacred sites (courtesy of John Hooper) and a fogou model with effects created for the Museum by Dave Lee (who generously donated his time, skill and some bits of technical kit).

Below: The fogou model at the top of the stairs (watch it for a few seconds and something will appear!)  It is accompanied by this text:
Fogou is Cornish for cave and they are ancient man made entrances to the earth.  They were created between 500BC and 500AD.  Fogous are usually one long curve passage.  Some researchers claim they were places of ritual and ceremony.  Nearly all the structures are aligned to the midsummer solstice sunrise.  In Cornish lore, they are places of connection with the world of the spirits.  A place to think about the sacredness of the Earth and the ancestors.
Text inspired by Cheryl Straffon, The Earth Goddess (1997).

Above: fantastic green man carving by Eddie Greywolk Marine is also now displayed on the stairs.

Another wonderful addition to this part of the Museum is "The Witch's House" or the "Mandrake Wizard at Home".  This was originally made for the Museum in the 1990s and was on display for many years (can you remember where)?  Last year, it was removed due to refurbishments and we racked our brains to find somewhere to put it to do it justice.  Now it has a new home and has be re-fashioned and upgraded (it now has lights!) and is on display on the stairs.  Thanks so much to Steve Patterson for all the love and effort that went into this wonderful display - it is a perfect miniature witch's den.  You really have to see it to take in its full charm but here are some photos in case you can't make it down here for a while (above without flash, below with flash!)

 Part Three coming soon...