The Witches Boat

The Witches Boat

We are delighted to announce the purchase of ‘The Witches Boat’, a pen and water colour painting by Richard. E. Clarke (1878-1954). Richard studied, and later taught, at the renowned Art School in Scarborough founded by artist, yacht designer, sailor and writer Albert Strange in the early 1900s. He gained recognition as a watercolourist and engraver, and exhibited at London galleries and at the Royal Academy, and at the Yorkshire Art Exhibition. He was also an art teacher at Scarborough Boys’ High School, and in 1937 became the first ever president of Scarborough Art Society, which still flourishes today.
Clarke was the younger brother of William James Clarke (1871-1945), the renowned naturalist and folklorist whose extensive collection of charms and amulets formed the basis of the popular Scarborough Art Gallery exhibition Fears, Foes and Faeries in 2012. Clarke’s tiny objects collected between 1913 and 1945 are not only fascinating in themselves but are also key to many tales of folklore and local superstition, some of which are on the verge of being lost to time and others that still survive in some form today.
The painting isn’t dated but seems to be circa 1920’s/30’s

The Museum is now closed

We will be opening for several days around Christmas and New Year and these will be announced at the end of November.

We thank all our visitors for coming to see us this year and supporting the museum. It has been a fantastic year for us and we are all now going to have a well earned rest!


BANNED BOOKS WEEK – 28th September

BANNED BOOKS WEEK – 28th September


> Play Webcast > The Banned Lecture : Becoming Bluebeard

Gilles de Rais was framed, as far as Aleister Crowley, writing in 1930, was concerned; and we think so too. Crowley’s  Banned Lecture was published immediately after the Catholic Chaplain of Oxford University forbade the presentation to the Oxford University Poetry Society. In essence an attack on the mediaeval establishment and an explanation of how the Orthodoxy had always suppressed free thinkers, the lecture posits that Gilles De Rais was as a result of his homosexuality and individualisim attacked, imprisoned and convicted firstly for that and secondly as an occultist. It seems absurd to us that he could have concealed the physical evidence of murders of upwards of 500 children; and we suggest that his confessions (obtained under torture) were in fact given partly as a mercy to those he would have potentially indicted by maintaining his innocence on the latter charge. Contemporary historians in France now begin to suggest that he was wrongfully executed. Joyce’s discussion connects to the theme of the success of the controlled narrative, an observation which runs through our Banned Books Week programming. Alternative discourses present a threat to this hegemonic privilege. Crowley’s lecture also did this in 1930, and does now today. 


* 27th September : LÀ-BAS – JORIS-KARL HUYSMANS – Simon Costin reads from the novel, with a short commentary

> Play Webcast > Là Bas – Huysmans

Possibly the most *don’t* listen with mother of our titles! The Damned ( Là-Bas ) is a novel by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, first published in 1891. It deals with the subject of Satanism in 19th C France. The novel created outrage on its first publication, and was banned throughout Paris from being sold in public, at train stations or on the Metro. Durtal, the protagonist, is researching the life of Gilles de Rais, the alleged child-killer who was in addition the producer of an extraordinary pageant on the subject of the Siege of Orléans, and as he proceeds with his research becomes more and more embroiled himself in the demi-monde of fin-de-siècle Paris. Gilles de Rais was incidentally the subject of Aleister Crowley’s Banned Lecture.   Simon Costin reads from Huysman’s novel the outrageous finale, which describes a satanic black mass in a church in Paris, with the all the lurid embellishments of the grand-guignol… 


* 26th September : JOHN DEE – CONVERSATIONS WITH THE ANGEL GALVAR – Hannah Fox, Steve Simmonds, Introduced by Simon Costin

> Play Webcast > The Angel Galvar

14th June 1583 – Trithenius is put in his place by the female angel Galvar… who takes the form of a far from ‘weak or feeble woman’, unlike the Queen described herself. John Dee explained that the angel takes male or female form depending on the gender which best serves its purpose. Galvar is quite clear that women and men are indeed equal. Trithenius claimed that angels could never take female form, because of their inherent weakness and ‘impurity’. That makes this passage thus possibly one of the earliest feminist treatises to appear in the English Language. John Dee’s conversations with angels were made possible through the use of scrying, rather than via elaborate ritual process; the one piece of magical apparatus that Dee and Kelly did have was a ‘shew-stone’ through which the scryer saw the visions of angels. Following the transcription of the conversations with angels, the documents were buried and hidden from public view, and self-censored. 


* 25th September : THE SWORN BOOK OF HONORIOUS – Joyce Froome, a conversation

>Play Webcast > The Sworn Book

Joyce Froome is one of the Curator Team at the Museum Of Witchcraft and Magic and is a writer and researcher into the history and practice of magic. For Banned Books Week, Joyce has translated a section of The Sworn Book of Honorious and here discusses its importance in the history of magical practice and its co-option into the Paris Determinatio. Joyce also raises the issue that the Sworn Book was in actual fact co-authored by The Angel Hocroel, potentially presenting a rights issue for publishers, given the question of his immortality…



> Play Webcast > BOOKS IN FLAME

Steve Patterson writes on complex subjects and speaks in plain easy to understand prose.  In this rather wonderful talk touching on The Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the self-censorship of Mary Anne South and our obedience to the new gods of technology,  Steve Patterson discusses not only these details but the history of the book in general, the dissemination & suppression of magical literature, and the hermeneutics of power in relation to the publication of hermetic and magical texts from the early mediaeval period to the present day. 


* 23rd September 2019 : THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD: Dr Louise Fenton on Zora Neale Hurston. 

> Play Webcast >  ZORA NEALE HURSTON

Dr Louise Fenton’s webcast introduces Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston’s extraordinary work on Haitian and Jamaican Voodoo,TELL MY HORSE – was not actually the work which got her banned from the bookshelves – that honour went to her equally extraordinary (and previously published)  novel, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD. Hasten to read both! A controversial and uncompromising figure in her lifetime, in 1948 Hurston was falsely accused of a crime she could not have committed as she was finishing a novel at the time in Honduras. “My race has seen fit to destroy me” she said at the time; long since repatriated she is seen today for what she was: a distinguished anthropologist, film maker and a writer of poetic and most insightful prose. 




Dr Thomas Waters joined us for our AUTUMN EQUINOX & BOOK EVENT, where he gave two talks as part of launch activity for his new book for Yale University Press, CURSED BRITAIN. 

Thomas gave the a talk on the phenomenon of recent and present day accusations of witchcraft and delivered for us also the first piece of programming for our first BANNED BOOKS WEEK reading, his talk on the Banning of Harry Potter in some states in the USA.  


From the Grimoire to the Bodice Ripper – discover ancient magical texts subverted as evidence in witch trials, unpublished transcriptions of conversations with spirits, alchemic formulae, works of occult philosophy and novels so racy and depraved they were banned from sale on the Paris Metro! 

Celebrating the right to read and the right to listen; Nightly at 10 PM we will be adding a webcast for every evening of BANNED BOOKS WEEK 22-28th September. 

We have discovered some interesting correspondences between some of our writers, texts, and manuscripts, and will be sharing them with you over the course of the next week.   

Please ‘tune in’ nightly for our short presentations, which we will also add on social media.


Remaining webcasts will be added nightly!

* Maria Prophetissima: The Axiom of Maria

* Culpepper : The Censored Revolutionary

* The Sworn Book of Honorius

* Dr Louise Fenton : Zora Neale Hurston 

* John Dee – Conversation with The Angel Galvar

* Aleister Crowley: The Banned Lecture

* La Bas ( The Damned ) – Huysman


* 22nd September 2019 : Dr Thomas Waters – CURSED BOOKS? HARRY POTTER, RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP & THE DELIVERANCE MINISTRY From the Grimoire to the Bodice Ripper – discover ancient magical …


MWM co-production of MAGIC FLUTE

MWM recently co produced a new version of MAGIC FLUTE with the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, in the gardens of The Salutation in Kent – gold medallists at Chelsea …


Goat of Mendes Mask

In 1968, Arnold and Patricia Crowther went to their local cinema to see the newly released, The Devil Rides Out, made by Hammer Films and based on the 1934 novel of …


New museum loans

Following on from last year, we have items appearing in several exhibitions. The first to open will be in London at the Wellcome Collection, in an exhibition entitled, ‘Smoke and …


Museum History

We received this nostalgic image via our Facebook page. It shows Cecil Williamson’s original painting of a witch on her broomstick which has now been reproduced on the exterior of …


New window for a new season

Getting ready for the new season always involves thinking about the museum window. This year, Simon and Marti, (it was Marti who created the Stag’s head which graced the window …


May Conference Call For Papers

On May 18th & 19th  the Museum will host its annual conference on the subject of Isobel Gowdie to complement our 2019 exhibition. It will be held in the Wellington …


Qualified First Aid Museum Team!

Hannah, Joyce and Gypsy recently enrolled on a First Aid course and all passed with flying colours! Gypsy will also be attending a 3-day Health & Safety course shortly so …


Candlelit Evening for 2019

We are pleased to announce the dates for this years candlelit evenings. Come along and experience the museum in a whole new way by atmospheric candlelight. We look forward to …

See the full historical diary archive here