Preston Manor, one of Britain’s spookiest historic houses, is to host a unique display of artefacts and documents from the personal collection of local witch Doreen Valiente.
Valiente (1922-1999) is internationally regarded as having been ‘the mother of modern witchcraft’, and played a key part in nurturing the modern Pagan revival. In 2013 she posthumously made history by being the first witch to be awarded a blue plaque commemorating her life and achievements, on her tower block home in Brighton’s Kemp Town.
Her collection of artefacts, manuscripts and documents relating to witchcraft, magic, folklore and Paganism is acknowledged by academics to be the most important of its kind in the world. On her death it was entrusted to her last High Priest John Belham-Payne, now chair of the Doreen Valiente Foundation, who has worked extensively on safeguarding it for the future.
Also on display on special days (TBC) during the year Gerald Gardner’s original handwritten book of witchcraft rituals, from the 1940s – one of the primary source documents for the worldwide religion now known as Wicca. Known as a ‘Book of Shadows’ it contains Gardner’s notes for rituals and magical work from the earliest days of this movement. Most modern witches now have their own ‘Book of Shadows’, with a great many based on this original work.
Folklore, Magic and Mysteries: Mordern Witchcraft and Folk Culture in Britain opens from April