Mysteries of the Museum filming
On Monday 28th September, the Museum was visited by a film crew from the Travel Channel. They had travelled all the way from America to film across Europe and they stopped in at Boscastle to visit the Museum.
Prior to visiting us, they had been to Italy and also Switzerland where they filmed at the Apothecaries Museum (which sounds amazing). They also went to the Imperial War Museum in London.
Each programme focuses on various Museums and focuses on one object and one story. Our show will air in the New Year and go out across America (and also in any country which has the Travel Channel which is a lot!) It should be great promotion for the Museum and its collection.
The TV crew filmed throughout the Museum in the morning. They also took some shots of the village and cliffs.
In the afternoon, they focused on shooting one object: the scold's bridle (Museum object number 162). The following text is taken from the Museum's online database: Original text by Cecil Williamson: 'A so-called scold's bridle, but in actual fact this bridle is reported to have come from Exeter castle where it was kept to clap on any female prisoner who gave way to shouting, swearing or screaming abuse during the night hours, it is highly uncomfortable to wear, for discomfort is the name of the game.'
Jane Wenham was put on trial in 1712 in Walkern, Hertfordshire. Jane was 70 years old, she had one daughter, she seems to have been very poor (she was accused of begging and stealing turnips), she may have been a Dissenter or Quaker. She was married twice. Her first husband died and this is when her reputation as a witch may have begun as the rumour was that she had killed her first husband. Her second husband abandoned her.
She was accused of many things: compelling people to do things against their will, cursing, conversing with the Devil in the form of a cat, killing sheep and children. Before being officially tried for witchcraft, she was scratched in the face by one of her accusers, her body was searched for a witch's mark and she was asked to recite the Lord's Prayer, Jane asked to undergo the swimming test to prove her innocence but this request was denied. The urine of one of her "victims" was boiled to try and break Jane's curse.
Jane's trial became a cause celebre and is sometimes cited as the last witch trial in England. It was notable for the amount of churchmen involved (three Anglican ministers accused her of witchcraft). The jury found Jane guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging but the judge put aside the verdict and appealed to Queen Anne for a pardon. Jane was able to live out her in peace and died aged 90. She was described in later life as a pious woman.
Her case was taken up by the learned elites of the time and it became part of a national debate on witchcraft accusations and the legitimacy of the Wicthcraft Act of 1604 (which was repealed in 1736). We have a book in the Museum which brings together two pamphlets from opposing sides in the debate: one written by a clergyman arguing that Jane was a witch and one by a skeptic who deconstructs the evidence to prove that Jane was falsely accused by "ignorant rustics".
The film crew seemed very happy with the shoot. We received an email from them which said: "Thank you so much for all of your fantastic time and help and expertise on Monday. We had such a lovely, stress-free day in Boscastle...it might be my best day of the whole shoot! Also - you (Judith) were a total rock star! Hope you had some fun!"
We look forward to seeing the finished article and hope that it brings the Museum to an even wider (worldwide) audience!