23 Sep 2013

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

So we hire a rental car to move house, after a thousand trips back and forwards and countless flights of stairs the new place is full and looks similar to Warehouse 13. We are left only with the simple task of everything else. Que sightseeing day trip. Our little part of Devon is bordered by the world famous Cornwall. If you're an Artist or Surfer, Cornwall they tell me is the place to be. You didn't hear it here.

The hills of Dartmoor

We headed out to a little place called Boscastle. I really wanted to take the B3212 road running through Dartmoor National Park. The stretch between Postbridge and Two Bridges is famous for the Hairy Hands. A ghostly apparition which is reputed to appear to tired travellers, grab the steering wheel or reins and drive them off the road. I know what you're thinking. Late night at the local, travelling home, very tired if not distracted by the no doubt serious conversation had at said local, miss a corner, and the road, in the ditch, embarrassment, fantastic explanation, problem solved. Well I've seen the Hairy Hands on a website and a book so it's gotta be true. Anyway we didn't. Even though it was 11am, fear got the better of us and we took the A38. Devon and Cornwall are fantastic pieces of country. They remind me a little of some parts of New Zealand, only more condensed. A few missed turns and some suspect B roads and Boscastle opened before us. What a stunning place.


Boscastle is a settlement built on a rather steep valley heading down to a small port. The first thing that struck me was that it is a place which has all the signs of a harsh environment and yet everything looks very fresh. I remembered then some friends, who had recommended I take the trip, had told me stories of the 2004 flood. Everything seems to be rebuilt now and very nice it is indeed but the flood must have been a horrific thing for the locals and to bounce back in the fashion they have is a truly commendable feat.

The town itself is beautiful. The rendered buildings sit light in white and slate against the rocky valley. The contrast is amazing, it gives a rather strange yet peaceful feel. My destination was the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft. I've been chomping at the bit to get down there from the moment I'd heard about it. I'm not a Pagan nor can I pretend to understand the in's and out's of Paganism or any religions for that matter but this period of history interests me greatly and one can find no better place to gather interesting information on witchcraft than Boscastle or indeed the greater Devon/Cornwall area.

Museum of Witchcraft

The Museum is small compared to other institutes bearing the word but their collection is more than extensive. Beginning with the most violent period, the Witch trails of the 1600s drops you very much in the deep end and to be honest I found this part of the museum really quite sad. History in similar respects normally just makes me angry but the presentation of document and artifacts of which hunting, "questioning" and torture, really drive home a very sombre image of the period. 

A very handy device used for weighting your local Witch

I was beginning to think this was going to ruin my day but the rabbit warren of witchery delight was just beginning. I could have spent hours there and did my best to. 

Note the floor. I love it.

 Over the remaining rooms and second floor the journey is much more up beat and spans the very wide field of left hand secular spiritualism and yes there is even a small display dedicated to the C.O.S. and its beloved head carny. I did feel there were a few gaps and still wonder at the lack of Mr Crowley paraphernalia but I'm sure it could have something to do with the prices items in this area fetch and not some theological differences. The Golden Dawn is featured rather impressively. 

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Enjoy the photos but if you are ever in the deep dark Devon, take the Dartmoor National Park road and turn violently right once you pass the Hairy Hands, enjoy some amazing scenery and the very beautiful town of Boscastle and Museum of Witchcraft. Make sure you try the Devon cream tea and take a walk to the coast as well. The slate is stunning and you'll swear you've been there before. A long time ago.

Boscastle to the Celtic Sea

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