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Nightmare at the Museum!

23 October 2018 | Emily May

Halloween is creeping up on us, so why not get your freak on by visiting some of the most hair-raising museums around the UK...

Museum of Witchcraft, Cornwall
Tucked away in the Cornish countryside is the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the largest and oldest collection of items relating to witches and the occult in the world! Focusing on British history, stretching back to ancient times, the museum has a permanent collection as well as putting on special exhibitions, such as the current show Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic. They’re also running a series of special candlelit evenings on the lead up to Halloween, where the museum will open late, allowing you to explore the suspicious artefacts in a more macabre environment. On select days, you’ll also be able to hear ghost stories, told by the ghosts of the museum’s Victorian librarians.

Image Credit: The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic via their website
The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is located at The Harbour, Bocastle, Cornwall, PL35 0HD
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
It’s not surprising, with its royal history dating back to the 16th century, that Hampton Court Palace is home to more than its fair share of ghosts and ghouls. Some of the most famous residents of the palace were Henry VIII’s six wives, and although he did his best to see them off, rumour has it two still lurk around the corridors – Jane Seymour, who died in childbirth, apparently appears on the Silverstick Stairs, and Catherine Howard, who was executed for adultery at only 19, is now known as “the screaming queen” and supposedly runs along the aptly named “Haunted Gallery” begging for mercy. But it’s not just Henry Tudor’s wronged women that wander the halls, there have also been numerous sightings of “The Grey Lady”, otherwise known as - no, not Helena Ravenclaw - Sybil Penn, Edward VI’s wet nurse who died of smallpox. Sybil is thought to walk the corridors of the State Apartments and the Clock Court, and is also associated with a mysterious spinning wheel noise. So, this Halloween, why not head to Hampton Court to see if you can catch some paranormal activity in action – they’re even running guided ghost tours to increase your chances of a sighting! After all, the CCTV footage Hampton Court found of a ghostly figure exiting one of the palace doors pretty much proves that it’s riddled with spirits…
Hampton Court Palace is located in East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU
American Museum in Britain, Bath
Fancy adding a bit of a Latin American flavour to your Halloween Celebrations? Then head to the American Museum in Britain for their Day of the Dead Ball which is inspired by the traditional Mexican festival observed on the 2 November each year. While death is normally thought of as a morose subject, the Mexican celebration is in fact a happy affair, and aims to show love and respect for deceased family members. So, don’t head to the ball expecting a dark night of turmoil and terror. Instead, don your sombrero and prepare to dance to live music by bands including Mariachi Tequila, JC Jones and the Lake City Coolers, and drink spine chilling cocktails made by the Abbey Hotel pop-up bar. If you can’t make it to this event on the night of the 27th, why not check out some of the museum’s daytime Mexican themed events in the lead up to Halloween, including family fun trails, sugar skull decorating, and costume creation workshops! Make no bones about it, the American Museum have got this Day of the Dead theme down to a T (…bone). 

Image Credit: The American Museum in Britain via their website
The American Museum in Britain is located at Claverton Manor, Bath, BA2 7BD
Leeds City Museum, Leeds
Originally built in 1865 to house the City Mechanics Institute, Leeds City Museum holds a lot of history, and hence spirits within its walls. Staff have reported doors mysteriously opening and closing, the sounds of footsteps in the corridors, strange lights and even shadowy figures. So, if you’re a brave paranormal adventurer, why not take one of Haunted Evening’s Ghost Hunt tours of the building, where you’ll get the chance to seek out the spirits using traditional techniques such as séances, human pendulums and ouija boards. There’s even modern technology to satisfy the computer geeks, such as thermal imaging and SLS cameras! By the end of the evening, we’re pretty sure all non-believers will be converted, and you can leave the museum singing the Ghostbusters theme tune with pride. Who ya gonna call? 

Image Credit: Haunted Evenings via Facebook
Leeds Museum is located at Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 8BH. You can find out more about the Ghost Hunt experiences led by Haunted Evenings on their website.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Fancy a lesson in the history of magic? Then why not head to the Ashmolean for their latest exhibition Spellbound, which explores the history of magic, ritual and witchcraft (check out our review here!) and has a plethora of creepy objects including voodoo dolls, mummified cats and nail pierced toads (many of which have been sourced from the Museum of Witchcraft)! If you feel like you can stomach the aforementioned disgusting delights after dark, then sign yourself up for the Ashmolean’s Live Friday event themed on the exhibition, where the museum will be open until 10:30pm and be filled with magicians, illusionists, talks on magic and medicine, and the chance to have a go at defending yourself against the Dark Arts, or even a bit of potion making!

Image Credit: The Ashmolean Museum via their website
The Ashmolean Museum is located at Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PH. Spellbound runs until 6 January, and the Live Friday event takes place on 26 October 2018 from 9-10:30pm.

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