Friday, August 8, 2014

Witches and gnomes in Devon

The fella and I had a bit of holiday time this summer, so we decided to live it up in Devon for two days. Most people might consider the beach (we did, it was lovely), or a relaxing drink in local taverns (did that too). But, we also sought to find the most entertaining offerings of the area. A quick trawl through the internets revealed a plethora of enticing sites: the Barometer Museum (by appointment only, would need to be organised); Big Sheep; and a quarry complex named after one of humankind's finest inventions, Beer.

In the end, I wanted to check out the Museum of Witchcraft, as there could be some links to my study. The PhD radar never sleeps, and I knew I would find it interesting. Off we popped to gobsmackingly-scenic Boscastle. There was a display of Aleister Crowley (PhD tick) and then weird and wonderful collections that I was flabbergasted by. 
Everyone loves a spoon - Uri Geller
I understand that witchcraft appeals to many but incites fear in others - the museum makes a serious effort to warn visitors and to promote respect for the reception and interpretation of witchcraft. I was surprised with the diversity of objects on display, from the esoteric, to the macabre, and there were far more human remains than I envisioned (which poses some ethical questions in itself).

Click below for more photos.

Beautiful Boscastle

Aleister Crowley's silver cup

Voodoo doll

Disarticulated human remains and skulls were in abundance
On a lighter note, we visited the quaint and weird Gnome Reserve. Check out their website for a bit of internet archaeology. All visitors are expected to wear a gnome hat while wandering around. Gnomes are placed in both dense assorted groups and thematically.

A hope across to Watermouth Castle near Ifracombe offered even more gnomes, dungeons, animatronics and two centuries of slot machines. The water fountain display was heavy on the HAIL BRITANNIA theme with national flags that sprung from the walls and waved at the audience. There was a hedge maze, the longest snake tube slide in the world, goblin water gardens, and a floating gigantic stone sphere. We were completely entertained all day, but there was a strong creepy presence throughout.
Looks normal from the outside, right? WRONG

Animatronic space robot band

Creepy mannequins abound, most move

One of the "quaint" slot machine games. Which baby will drink the putrid liquid fastest

Gnome hand-dryer

A gnome enjoying some PlayBoyGnome literature in solitude in the gnome world village (think minitature town where you press a button, immediately regret it, as everything comes to life, moves, makes noise, and ultimately makes you feel deeply uncomfortable)
And along the way, we went to the beach.

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