Lovett Collection in MWM

Lovett Collection in MWM

In collaboration with Scarborough Museums Trust, the Pitt Rivers, Wellcome Trust and host of other fantastic institutions, the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic will be celebrating International Museums Day (Friday 18th May) by tweeting and blogging about items in our collection that were originally collected by Edward Lovett.

Lovett (1852- 1933) worked in a bank in London for many years but spent much of his time collecting from working-class people in East end of the city.  He amassed a huge collection of charms, amulets as well as a lot of folklore about beliefs and customs.  His private collection was sold to various institutions after his death, including the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic.

These objects, over thirty in number, were acquired by the Museum’s founder, Cecil Williamson (1909-1999) probably in the 1940s and 1950s.  They include an Elizabethan coin recovered from the mast of a ship, lumps of wax and pitch used by Mary Nalder of Stepney to make magical poppets or effigies, moles feet used by Widow Morely of Atcham and many others.

International Museums Day (Friday 18th May)

Look out for tweets about these objects during the day, together with an extended blog on our website.  The project, organised by Jennifer Dunne at Scarborough Museums Trust (also look out for her article in the Museum’s own journal The Enquiring Eye Issue 2) connects the Museum with other places that also share Lovett’s collection: the Cuming Museum in Southwark; the National Museum of Wales at St Fagan’s; the Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh; the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge and the Wellcome Collection, London.

Follow the story on twitter  #IMD2018 #wehaveacharmforthat #welovett and on the Museum’s twitterfeed:


Object/s 1

These three brass charms were purchased from the Lovett Collection by Cecil Williamson.  He writes:

“Having once been the property of the Gipsy medicine woman, and fortune teller, Mary Mitchell. Well known in the Elephant and Castle district, London, at the beginning of this century.

On one is engraved a running horse upon the other a running He-goat. Both animals being closely associated with Gipsy lore. The small circular gilt ornament is studded with seven pieces of coral [probably semi-precious stones].

[Overleaf, note in Williamson’s hand:]

“The number seven is the number of those born under the sign of Cancer (June 21st to July 20th) and also belongs to those born on the 7th 16th or 25th of any month. Was Mary Mitchell one of those?  More likely though she wore this amulet, being a fortune teller, for the reason that Gipsy lore lays down that the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter can tell the meaning of dreams. In common Gipsy slang she had: — ‘seven senses’.”

Object 2

Large Lumps of Wax and Pitch

Being the raw material used by Mary Nalder in fashioning her wax figures or puppets as she termed them. Purchased from the E. Lovett Collection.

Object 3

A Small Collection of Bone Tools

Purchased from the E. lovett collection, stated as having belonged to Mary Nalder, witch or wisewomen of Stepney, London, and used by her when shaping and making wax  figures for use in her spell casting operations.

Aquired by E. Lovett in 1909.

Object 4

This old silver “Elizabethan”  coin was found by a Scarborough fisherman, John Fuller embedded in the wooden mast step of the fishing smack “Sea Breeze” when she was broken up in 1912. Till the time of his death John Fuller wore it on his watch chain as a lucky charm. (Purchased from the E. Lovett collection)

Object 5

“Small wrist manacle with adjustable band. Specially made for female prisoners. Acquired many years ago by a collector from York castle and purchased from the Lovett Collection.”

Object 6

“Moles paws from the Lovett Collection; These were used by the wise woman, (some would have her for a WITCH) Widow Morely of Atcham near Shrewsbury, who practised her art of fortune telling, cures and charms c. 1900”

Object 7

“Bells used in various witchcraft rituals such as conjuring up a spirit. This set dates from 1778 and was purchased from the Lovett collection were it was described as the property of Anne Dyson, the witch of Thame 1822-97”

(Unfortunately these are no longer in the Museum – it is probable that Williamson took these objects with him after he sold the Museum in 1996.  This still is taken from Legend of the Witches, a film partially shot in the Museum c. 1970.)


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