Boscastle Spell Binding Village | Daily News

Boscastle Spell Binding Village

Juliet Coombe finds herself learning how to fly on a broom stick, read tarot in the UK, which has the only witch museum in the world.

Sri Lanka may be the home to mysticism and spells, and yet it is strangely England that celebrates the witch with their very own museum. My little boys, mini Harry Potters in the making, obsessed by Merlin the wizard and with an unhealthy interest in casting spells wanted to find out more so off we headed in search of Boscastle Witch Museum.

History of wickery

Boscastle is not a place that instantly jumps into ones mind, even though its spitting distance from Tintagel and its origins go back to Stone Age man developing life along the steep side of the Valley of the River named after the Bottreaux Castle that sits looking down at the hauntingly beautiful medieval village with amazing dips in their roofs indicating just how old and historic the area is. The air is full of magic and so where could be better to place Europe’s only witch museum, but Boscastle, three miles from Tintagel. A place well known for extraordinary acts of nature such as the 2004 flooding that sent everything out to sea including the museum curators car, which mysteriously returned the next day and it’s number plate is proudly exhibited on the second floor of the museum. Cornwall being a centre of mysticism and this village having a bewitching air about it is probably the reason that the witch museum was finally moved here in the 1960s. Like the witches themselves it has had its own trials and tribulations with people trying to burn it down, hex it and finally the devastating flood that damaged many of its exhibits. Proving the witch-hunts still go on and the fear that this place inspires candle lit at night proves that even in the technical cyborg age the power of magic is hard to destroy both good and bad. But who and what is a witch as you soon discover is heavily debated as they come in all forms young and old, beautiful and plain and contrary to what I thought men can also be witches and called cunning, according to the museum.

On a misty, cold day nothing could be more fun than a visit to this old cottage style museum set in the valley of craggy rocks. A place that forms a pinnacle at the harbour mouth with dramatic sheer drops, that would make the perfect launch pad for any trainee witch on a broomstick rider. Watch out for your fellow visitors, many who had witch like features making it hard at times to differentiate between the exhibits and reality. Naughty children cost extra and you may find them disappearing as they are sent by the witch like attendant on a search for the random little secret door hatches dotted around the museum. The entrance to this magical world is heavily guarded by a young woman reading a book on how to become a witch and she certainly knew how to make a fortune from the shop that sold costly witches heads made out of chocolate and biscuits that she said are so fresh they literally fly off the shelf. Once a month they have a vigil of candles in every room and open the museum from 8 pm until midnight for the very brave this is a scary way to learn about the history of wickery, which included the extensive use of herbs and moving through the centuries turned into something that society both feared and revered as pills, potions and especially homemade brews.

Unearthly creatures

You will learn how some symbols pre-dated Nazi Germany usage like the swastika, which was inverted and was originally meant as a good luck charm that came to symbolise a monstrous regime. The SS were the Gestapo and Hitler’s secret police and this symbol was a very good example of good turned on its head. The dark mirror downstairs provides a more ideal opportunity to produce a mystic selfie, which was a medusa like effect changing ones view of identity and even ones face into a werewolf like features.

Nothing escapes the witchy spells and advertisers as a result used iconographic images of sexy witches to sell stuff, after all everyone wants to add a bit of magic to their humdrum lives. Interestingly the popular Italian drink Strega means witch and is brewed in Bienvenuto, incorporating some 70 different ingredients and a secret magical recipe that has everyone who tries it hooked.

My favourite exhibit was the doll made to look like the village gossip to stop anymore rumour spreading they stuck a knife straight through the mouth and from that day onwards she no longer spread another malicious word about anyone. The shrine to the dead towards the end of the two extensive floor displays was brought to life by a gothic looking ‘cunning’ kneeling before it as before an altar lighting candles for the underworld. It was a scary way to finish a tour of unearthly creatures; totems and potent magic memorabilia including the dunking seats use to kill witches in medieval times.

Finished the day off at the Napoleon a 16th Century pub at the top of the village due to being kid friendly with some seriously bewitching food and views of this spell binding area. Famed for centuries for its tucker and colourful nightlife, you just have to be careful in the big pub gardens as the day turns into night not to be carried away into trying out shots of Strega or another Boscastle witchy brew. Otherwise you may find yourself moving from Sri Lanka over night for no particular reason than to be closer to the furies and local characters with pointy hats and even more pointed conversation.


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