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THE MUSEUM OF WITCHCRAFT
 

 

 

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.

 
 

Cecil was very much interested in the Craft of the West Country "wayside witch". He was fascinated by the Old ways of rural village witchcraft, and disapproved of Gardner’s Craft of Wicca. He was very private about his own beliefs, but he was certainly a magical practitioner, witch and cunning-man himself, who would take on magical work; often of a ‘dark’ nature, on behalf of clients as was traditional.

The Museum's vast collection has a strong bias toward artefacts relating to traditional West Country witchcraft, and holds a huge collection of charms and magical items. It is of extreme value and definitely a "must visit" for anyone interested the ways of old West Country witchcraft and folk magic. There is also an extensive and fascinating collection of artefacts relating to modern witchcraft and the museum houses artefacts belonging to many of the 'big names' of Wicca.

The museum is owned and run today by Graham King, who purchased the Museum from Williamson at midnight on Halloween 1996. Cecil Williamson died at the age of 90 in 1999.

The museum, and its precious collection, survived after being devastated by the worst floods in modern British history, which hit the little village of Boscastle on the 16th of August 2004. After the enormous efforts of the museum team and volunteers, the museum and its collection were restored and bounced back better than ever with the reopening on the 25th of March 2005.

 
 

Visit the museum’s web-site:
www.museumofwitchcraft.com

The Museum of Witchcraft is supported by Friends of the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft:
www.museumofwitchcraftfriends.blogspot.co.uk/

 
 

The Museum of Witchcraft A Magical History-paperback
£18.00
The paperback copy of this popular book is now available for purchase.

Many well known friends of the Museum, including Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University, Patricia Crowther, Damh the Bard, Mike Howard and Marian Green of Quest magazine, share their many experiences and fond memories. The book is generously illustrated with artefacts, tableaux and displays from the past and present, including the devastating flood of 2004. UKpostage is included in the online price. A significant donation to Friends of the Museum ofWitchcraft will be made from the sale of this book.

CLICK HERE
To purchase this book directly from The Occult Art Company;
the preferred retailer of the Museum of Witchcraft.

 
Above photos by Jane Cox
 
 
MUSEUM of WITCHCRAFT FILMS
 
The Museum of Witchcraft in the 1960s
 
 

This fascinating footage shows the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle as it was under the ownership of Cecil Williamson in the late 1960's. It is amazing to see some of the very familiar exhibits along with the way this wonderful museum that has developed and changed over the years.

Thanks to 'Lost935' for posting this footage.

 
The Museum of Witchcraft 2010
 
 
The Museum of Witchcraft Boscastle in 2010
Film made by Tom Chick & Florence Kennard with Tom Bailey, Music from 'Chanting' and 'Chanting II' from the Museum of Witchcraft aditional chanting by Patricia Crowther and music by Neil Smith.
 
 
 
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