Join Simon Costin, the museum’s director, live from the museum in Cornwall where he will show and discuss some of his favourite treasures from the collection. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, formerly known as the Museum of Witchcraft, is a museum dedicated to European and world witchcraft and magic, located in the village of Boscastle in North Cornwall, in the south-west of England. It houses exhibits devoted to folk magic, ceremonial magic, Freemasonry and Wicca, with its collection of such objects having been described as the largest and most important in the world.
The museum was founded by the English folk magician Cecil Williamson in 1951 to display his own personal collection of artefacts. Initially known as the Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft, it was located in the town of Castletown on the Isle of Man. Williamson was assisted at the museum by the prominent Wiccan Gerald Gardner, who remained there as “resident witch”. After their friendship deteriorated, Gardner took over the running in 1954, renaming it the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. Gardner’s Castletown museum remained open until the 1970s, when Gardner’s heir Monique Wilson sold its contents to the Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not company.
Later in 1954, Williamson, who had removed his collection from the Isle of Man opened his own rival back in England, known as the Museum of Witchcraft. Its first location was at Windsor, Berkshire, and the next at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire; in both cases it faced violent opposition and Williamson felt it necessary to move, establishing the museum in Boscastle in 1960. In 1996 Williamson sold the museum to Graham King, who incorporated the Richel Collection of sex magic artefacts from the Netherlands in 2000. The museum was badly damaged during the Boscastle flood of 2004 but thankfully, due to the quick thinking of Graham and his staff, virtually nothing was lost. In 2013 ownership was transferred to Simon Costin and his Museum of British Folklore.
Simon Costin studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon School of Art and since leaving in the mid 80’s, Simon has grown to become an internationally respected art director, set designer and curator. Costin’s artwork has been displayed in many exhibitions worldwide, at venues as diverse as a forest in Argyll, the ICA in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His lifelong passion for Folklore has resulted in the launch of the Museum of British Folklore, a long-term project which aims to establish the UK’s first ever centre devoted to celebrating and researching the UK’s rich folkloric cultural heritage. Since 2013 he has also been the owner and director of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall.