In 2015, the Persecution display was refurbished and extended. It now includes a timeline overview of "Witchcraft, Magic and the Law" from the ancient world to the present day (almost - 2008!), a display on the power of print and significant texts on witchcraft, a look at the Pendle Case in detail and an exploration of trials (including the weighing chair).
The focal point of the display is the mannequin, the faceless, nameless victim of persecution. It is a woman (although many cases involved men) but represents all those who were victimised and silenced (she is wearing a scold's bridle).
For a long time, the Museum has displayed a list of those who died. Not a comprehensive list (so many names and cases are unknown) but a significant number of names, places and dates associated with persecution. We wanted to retain this (and it is still on display) but we also wanted to extend it to include more detail of some cases when that detail is known.
We wanted this to feel like a memorial, we imagined this mannequin representing these people when they were incarcerated, writing graffiti on their cell wall about their case. The figure would no longer be nameless but the visitor could use them to project different stories onto. What led them to being chained in this way? These accounts give us some idea. We wanted the display to feel personal, to include women and men, to span as wide a period as possible and to include information from accusations and confessions.
At our recent May Event, attendees were asked if they would write a memorial based on research done by the Museum team. Many people took us up on this offer and contributed their time, energy and love to making this memorial. The handwritten texts convey the individuality of each person accused and also the individuality and perspective of the person who wrote it. It is a symbolic link between witchcraft in the past and the present.
We think it is visually striking, interesting and thought provoking and we value it all the more for having the help of people who care about the Museum and feel passionately about the treatment of those accused of witchcraft in the past.