Museum exhibition tells the tale of the Witchfinder General

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon has reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions – with some local horrible histories to thrill visitors.

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 7:52 am
Stuart Orme, curator of The Cromwell Museum.

After closing its doors for a second time in December 2020 due to the pandemic, the team at the museum has been working behind the scenes to not only make the attraction Covid-safe to welcome back visitors from May 19 but has been running successful online lectures and educational events for school children.

But to kick off a new season of exhibitions, a new display explains how nine local people became victims of the infamous Witchfinder General in one of the darker episodes in Huntingdon’s history.

This year is the 375th anniversary of the visitation of one of the most sinister figures in 17th century history to the town, the infamous, self-styled ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins. In May 1646 nine women and men from Huntingdonshire were accused and tried for witchcraft; at least four were condemned and hanged on Mill Common.

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Museum Curator Stuart Orme (pictured) said: “In the 1600s many people still believed in magic as a way of explaining the world around them, at a time when scientific knowledge was limited.

“This wasn’t the first time that Huntingdon had seen people accused of witchcraft, another famous case being in 1593, with infamous ‘Witches of Warboys’. The trials in 1646 were part of Hopkins’ reign of terror across East Anglia, in which over 100 people were executed.”

This exhibition is one of a series of planned events to allow people to re-engage with the Museum and will be followed by an exciting outdoor display of Cromwell-related artwork at locations around the town with the support of local businesses.

It is hoped that as restrictions ease further, the museum will continue to feature highly on families’ and history lovers’ ‘go to’ stay-cation attraction.

Stuart added: “We are thrilled to soon be welcoming visitors back, and although our overseas visitors are not yet able to see us in person, our online lectures and events will continue for enthusiasts who are unable to travel to the museum.”

“For the many who can, there is plenty in the pipeline which we hope we build on the stay-cation audience and help to rejuvenate the town centre.”

For more details about the Cromwell Museum visit www.cromwellmuseum.org