Nestled within the harbour of the picturesque North Cornish village of Boscastle, is the world famous Museum of Witchcraft. This extraordinary museum houses the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia.
The museum's history is as fascinating as its collection. It was first founded on the Isle of Man By Cecil H. Williamson in 1951.
Cecil's lifelong interest in witchcraft and magic began with his first encounter with old West Country witchcraft as a child in the Devon village of North Bovey. He was befriended by the local witch, after defending the elderly woman from a group of thugs who suspected her of bewitching cattle. As an adult, he investigated the Craft of African Witchdoctors whilst working on a tobacco plantation in Rhodesia. He continued his fascination in Britain in the 1930's, mixing with leading experts of the day and even worked as an agent for MI6, collating the Occult interests of the Nazis.
In 1951 Cecil first opened the museum in the ‘Witches Mill’ on the Isle of Man. Gerald Gardner, who he had first met in 1946, was employed as ‘Resident Witch’. Having very different ideas from one another about Witchcraft, and the direction in which the museum and its collection should be taken, their working relationship and friendship broke down. In 1954, Williamson sold the building and some of the collection to Gardner, who continued to run the Witches Mill as a museum until it was bequeathed at his death in 1964 to Lady Olwen (Monique Wilson), who unfortunately sold the collection in 1973 to ‘Ripley's Believe It Or Not’ in America. Wonderfully, a small proportion of this collection has recently found its way home to The Museum of Witchcraft – read details here.
Following his parting of company with Gerald Gardner, Cecil moved his museum and its fascinating collection to Windsor, however Royal officials were not happy with the idea of a witchcraft museum in the area and suggested that perhaps it should be located somewhere else... So Cecil relocated again to the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, where local Christians subjected him to death threats, strung dead cats up in his garden trees and repeatedly fire-bombed his museum. The final relocation took Cecil and his museum to Cornwall and in 1960 to Boscastle where it remains today.