Museums And The Macabre

Published: 05 May 1999

Museums are boring! Oh, no they're not, at least not when they showus all sorts of wonderful objects, and tell us fascinating tales ofpeople in history. Dig a bit deeper in any museum and you will find atreasure store of weird and wonderful items, collected by some kindsoul in the past and now available for our enjoyment

Where can you see a rat curled up in a human skull? In SalisburyMuseum. William Longspee, Earl of Salisbury died in 1227. When histomb was opened in 1791, a dried Black Rat was found inside his skull.It seems the rat died of arsenic poisoning, just like Earl William.

Fascinated by witchcraft? Perhaps it's the mystery, fear of theunknown or the fairy-tale romance? The Museum of Witchcraft willconvince you that witches did exist and still do. Here is the world'slargest collection of spells, charms, curses, paintings, woodcuts and witchesworking tools.

Psst! Want to be a phrenologist? North Devon Museum is the place tofind out. Phrenologists studied shape and size of the human head,believing you could then understand somebody's character and level ofintelligence. See some heads and meet the Amsterdam Idiot and theEminent Divine.

Feel the chill as no less than three ghosts wander the corridors of800-year old Torre Abbey! There's an 18th century lady, and a "SpanishLady", seeking her lost-love amongst Armada troops imprisoned here.Oldest ghost is a headless monk from the abbey.... watch out forsevered heads!

In Gloucester Folk Museum, see part of the stake at which ProtestantBishop Hooper was supposedly burned, and the wooden cheese fromCooper's Hill cheese rolling. On the Dymock Curse read about SarahEllis, spelt backwards, the good and evil spirits of the moon,mystical number 369, and much more!