Colchester Museums is thrilled! Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign undertaken with Art Happens, a platform run by Art Fund, Wicked Spirits? Witchcraft + Magic at Colchester Castle will open to the public on the 16 July 2022.
During the campaign, £15,396.75 was raised, with over 200 benefactors all giving generously to see the exhibition realised. The success of the campaign has reaffirmed that witchcraft and magic still prove a fascinating and compelling subject for many. Today, a wide variety of books, films, and TV programmes exist for those eager to soak up real-life stories, dramas and accounts of Britain’s historic past.
However, there are still many real-life stories to tell, and that is precisely what Wicked Spirits? Witchcraft + Magic at Colchester Castle will be doing.
Colchester Castle’s new exhibition, devised in collaboration with the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, will transport visitors back in time to the 16th and 17th centuries. They will be immersed in a time when a fear campaign was beginning to spread throughout Europe that saw hundreds of people accused of witchcraft and magic imprisoned across the country and locally in Colchester’s very own Castle.
During the reign of Charles I, in the 17th Century, Essex became infamous for its persecution of suspected witches in a world where witchcraft was made illegal, with suspected witches facing terror and even the death penalty.
For many years Colchester Castle has told the stories of those who hunted suspected witches – such as the notorious Witch Finder General, Matthew Hopkins – but now, Colchester Museums, along with the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, will be bringing the stories of those who suffered out into the open and telling their forgotten tales.
Councillor Pam Cox, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Heritage, said: “Colchester played a significant role in violent campaigns against witchcraft, and this exhibition allows us to remember those innocent individuals, most of them women, who sadly lost their lives during this period in our borough’s history. We cannot rewrite history, but we can share the stories of those that were persecuted with a new generation of visitors to our museum.”
Simon Costin, Director, Museum of Witchcraft and Magic said: “Wicked Spirits? Witchcraft and Magic is an exciting collaboration between the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic (MWM), based in Boscastle, Cornwall – the UK's only museum dedicated to the study of magical practice – and Colchester Castle.
“We have over 4,000 objects and this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of our collection to new audiences. This exhibition will focus on the untold stories of the innocent women who suffered under the witchcraft acts of the 17th century and beyond and is a timely reminder of the persecution of people for their beliefs.”