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A spooky half term at Chelmsford Museum

Hocus Pocus 2022 CN (2)

Families visiting Chelmsford Museum this October half term have been enjoying another instalment of the popular Hocus Pocus display.

Young visitors have been learning about historic witch trials in Essex and engaging with items in the museum’s collection which are not on permanent display.

The exhibition has been extremely popular so far, with more than 1,000 visitors to the museum over the weekend.

Witches and Halloween

Hocus Pocus explores how witches became associated with Halloween and investigates the dark history of witch trials in Essex. Visitors can peer at some of the museum’s spookiest objects, including snake skins and animal skulls, which may have been used as apothecary ingredients. Objects once thought to offer protection from witches and demons include a 17th-century shoe which had been hidden in the walls of a house.

Hocus Pocus also looks at how women accused of witchcraft were often said to have had ‘familiars’. A display of some of the museum’s exceptional taxidermy collection features some of the most common ‘familiars’ such as bats, cats, owls, hares and frogs.

Interactive activities

Varied interactive activities keep the little ones entertained, with a self-led children’s trail, dressing up opportunities, shadow puppets to play with and a cabinet of herbs to smell and touch.

A reading corner offers a comfortable space for young visitors to enjoy a quiet moment with popular magic-themed books, such as Harry Potter, Room on the Broom, Meg and Mog, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz and The Worst Witch.

Boris’s ghost hunt

Elsewhere in the museum this week, young visitors have been asked to help Boris with his Halloween party. A free trail encourages children to find ghosts hidden around the museum and complete a guest list of Boris’s famous Chelmsford friends. Special stickers are awarded to those who complete the challenge!

Spooky souvenirs

Over the Halloween period, a new range of objects is available to purchase from the museum shop. Soft toy witches, wizards, owls and cats are available alongside creepy marbles, glowing eyes and squeezy brains!

Our Halloween edition History Hackers issue is now also available. This can be purchased individually for 50p or as part our History Hackers activity bag for £1.50.

Hocus Pocus is open to Halloween enthusiasts until Sunday, 30 October, so don’t miss out and head over to Chelmsford Museum!

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.