Witch Balls - Museum of Cambridge

Witch Balls - Museum of Cambridge

Mangle - Museum of Cambridge

Mangle - Museum of Cambridge

 

The Museum of Cambridge, formerly known as the Cambridge & County Folk Museum, is a museum located in Castle Street in central Cambridge, England. It is housed in eight rooms in the former White Horse Inn, a public house that closed in 1934. The museum presents the lives of the people of Cambridge and its surrounding area, the county of Cambridgeshire from 1700 onwards. The collection includes objects covering applied art, coins, costumes, decorative art, fine art, hobbies, law and order, medals, medicine, music, social history, textiles and toys.

 

The folklore collection gives the visitor a wonderful glimpse into the beliefs and customs from Cambridge and the area in the past. Enid Porter, who was the curator of the museum from 1947 to 1976 worked tirelessly to record the customs, songs, beliefs and habits of this county. The collection is a wonderful mix of the mundane and the bizarre, from courting tokens made of corn, to moles paws carried to prevent rheumatism. Our favourite objects are the Witch Balls, beautiful blue glass balls which were hung in the window to protect the house from malevolent spells and to trap the reflection of any witch who tried to look in.

 

There is a well-preserved mangle, so evocative of wash-day Mondays when the steaming washing was lifted from the tub so a child could strain at the handle to squeeze the water out of the clothes (bedding was even more of a job). There is a Star vacuum cleaner which predates the use of electricity. They have several cleaners that work using bellows to create a vacuum and the Star was one of the first cheap, mass produced ones. It is little more than a tin can attached to a pole with a metal head at one end and bellows attached to the tin which you pump up and down as you push it along. Not only does this need a lot of co-ordination but having tried it you do wonder was it worth the effort?

 

A venerable eight-day clock, dating from the 1850s, has been telling the time for several generations of people. The brass face bears the name 'Fletcher and Hitzman, Cambridge', and a small dial tells the day of the month. The face is surrounded by enamelled pink roses and in the arch above is a colourful rural scene. The clock's early history is not known, bur for some years it stood in 'The Three Pigeons' public house in Cambridge Place, so it seems appropriate that it eventually found its way to another pub, where it still keeps good time and is a cherished old friend. These are just a few of the eclectic and fascinating collection. There is a ramp / level access enabling Wheelchair accessibility and a wheelchair accessible lift to all floors. Disabled person’s toilet. Guide Dogs/Hearing Dogs welcomed. Large print guides available as well as a Hearing loop.

 

Location : 2/3 Castle Street, Cambridge, CB3 0AQ

Transport: Cambridge (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 1A, 95, Citi5, Citi6 and X8 stop outside.

Opening Times : Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00; Sunday + Bank Holidays 12:00 to 16:00

Tickets : Adults £4.00;  Concessions £2.00;  Children under 12 Free

Tel: 01223 355159