Day 2 of my Cornwall tour saw me indulging in some old areas of fascination. As a teen I loved all things supernatural and enjoyed learning of the facts behind the fiction. So I could not resist when I heard of a Museum of Witchcraft in North Cornwall, and so close to the historic Tintagel that was high on my holiday hit list. Through my ride to the quiet villages of the day, I took in views of the rolling hills and rugged coastal cliffs that Cornwall is known for, before descending down the winding road to my first stop of Boscastle.
Boscastle is the hallmark of a peaceful Cornish hamlet. Nestled in a small valley between tall green hills, this pretty riverside village resides in an area of outstanding natural beauty and has something of a Cheddar gorge-esque feel to it. The houses and shops are of true Cornish build with a scattering of gift shops and tea rooms for visitors to enjoy. The village bakery is a great place for quick snacks of Cornish pasties and a treat of my childhood memory, homemade wagon wheels.
After exploring the village, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Museum was quite an attraction in Boscastle and it was with many others and an open mind that I entered the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. Located next to the Visitor centre, the Museum is an enchanting blend of information and artefacts, all brought together through the efforts of its original founder Cecil Williamson.
The Museum is home to a fantastic array of charms, books, statues and pictures that have been bought, borrowed and gifted to the collection which delves into every aspect of the craft. The roots of these practices date back centuries and it is fascinating to see how thoughts and history have changed our approach to followers over time, from the days of the poor tortured women accused of wrong-doings to the modern witches of today.
Did you know that the witches pointed hat actually originated as a sign of mockery? Rebels and prisoners who defied or disobeyed the church were made to wear pointed hats that were a symbol of a false bishop hat, meaning rebel of the church. Many of the early accused witches were forced to wear black pointed hats as a symbol of their dark ways. This was later adopted by the witches to show their bravery in choosing a different way of life from that of the church and remains a popular symbol of witchcraft today.
Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic is currently running until 31st October, providing an informative look at the use of items such as pentagrams, precious stones and wands throughout history with exhibits from the Museum’s collection.
Full of mystical knowledge, I skipped, (okay bounced) to the Visitor centre next door and bought a couple of the walking maps with the hope of taking a little hike. Unfortunately the weather was not behind me and the assistant warned me against the slippery paths. So this is my tip to you, please take notice of the Visitor centre staff and don’t try to trek the coastal paths in a) trainers or b) strong winds or rain.
If you are lucky enough to find the weather in your favour, the Pentargon walk (7 miles total) rewards with some stunning scenery including a waterfall. You can also hike the 5 miles between Boscastle to Arthurian Tintagel and it was here that I set my sights in seeing next.
Buses run through Boscastle every two hours in general with a gap around lunch. If you are reliant on buses, check the bus timetables as soon as you get there for your return trip.
Where would I go if I had more time?
Nectar waterfall park is found along the main road between Boscastle and Tintagel, where visitors can sip the crisp natural waters from the falls. As a helpful bus driver told me, “drink a cup of that love, and you’ll look 23 years old I promise you.” I’m only sad I didn’t get to go and investigate for myself!