The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall is one of Britain’s most popular independent museums. Fiona Dodwell popped along to find out why.
Sometime ago I discovered Cornwall had its own little “home of the weird” hidden amongst the beautiful countryside of Boscastle. Advertised as one of Britain’s “most unique” museums (and few who visit would likely argue that claim) I found the venue and its myriad displays to be fascinating and, at times, unsettling.
With everything from pagan artefacts, occult spell books and even items said to once belong to the infamous Aleister Crowley, I knew I would be in for a treat.
I have, since childhood, held a quiet passion for all things paranormal, unusual and creepy. I have experienced first-hand paranormal phenomena (as detailed in my first article for Ghost Mag) as well as travelled to so-called haunted locations and taken part in investigations with teams of fellow enthusiasts.
I’ve spent countless hours reading books on witchcraft, mysteries, spirituality, watching documentaries and listening to podcasts. I’ve even purchased so-called haunted items in order to do experiments in my own home. I’ve wanted to try it all.
If there’s anything out there on the strange or paranormal, I am there. So a visit to Boscastle’s Witchcraft Museum was something I was excited about, and I was certainly not disappointed with my experience.
According to the official website of the museum, it was Cecil Williamson, who had a lifelong interest in witchcraft, who opened the venue in 1962. Over the years it grew and adapted and became a beacon for witches or those interested in witchcraft. In 1996, it was sold to its current owner, Graham King. King has worked diligently and passionately to make the museum what it is today. As it stands, the Witchcraft Museum is one of the highlights of the South West – for those interested in the stranger side of life.
When I visited, I knew little about what to expect other than a few titbits of information I’d seen online. Arriving there was an experience in itself, with the beauty of Cornwall surrounding me.
The Witchcraft Museum itself looks surprisingly small from the outside, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking there can’t be much to look at: inside are two floors packed to the rim containing shelves upon shelves of witchcraft related items, occult paraphernalia, creepy displays and original photos. The official website boasts “a collection that has grown to over 3000 objects and over 7000 books.” There is plenty to discover in this occult treasure trove of the South West.
Amongst the things you will see at the Witchcraft Museum are: witch trial equipment, talismans, ancient occult documents, folk magic displays, Freemasonry paraphernalia, a shrunken head, Death Masks, Ouija Boards, spirit bottles and many informative displays about the history of witchcraft. There is a large sculpture of the Horned God of Wicca which is beautifully crafted, and one of the artefacts behind glass is said to have once been used by Aleister Crowley. One small section of the museum is devoted to religious Satanism.
There is certainly enough to keep those who are interested in witchcraft, folklore and paganism inspired. Browsing through the 3,000 plus objects is an engaging experience, and at times slightly creepy when one reads the written exhibits next to each piece. For instance, staring at the death mask can feel quite unsettling. The museum has a small store at the front in which candles, pagan jewellery, Ouija boards and occult books can be purchased – the content for sale fitting perfectly with the style of the museum itself.
After I departed, I later realised that the venue regularly hosts regular special events and exhibitions, such as The Craft of Cursing, Objects of Ritual Magic and talks on Halloween. A diverse and magical experience, The Witchcraft Museum is without doubt one of the most unique and fascinating ways to spend an afternoon. It would be hard to come away disappointed.
Visiting the Museum of Witchcraft Cornwall
The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is open seven days a week, including Bank Holidays, from April 1st until October 31st.
You can find out more information on this wonderful location by visiting the official site at museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk