On Wednesday 16th October, at 5pm, I shall be launching my new book Witches and Witchcraft in Ely: A History at Oliver Cromwell’s House, which is a museum and also the Tourist Information Centre in Ely. My presentation on Ely’s connection with witchcraft will be preceded by a ghost walk, an annual event at Oliver Cromwell’s House, which claims to be a haunted building. Much to my horror, I am billed on the poster advertising the event next to a picture of the Lord Protector’s face – a genocidal tyrant much more terrifying than any Hallowe’en spook…
Today I managed the opening of the Old Bishop’s Palace in Ely for Heritage Open Day, with guided tours of the building from 10am to 4pm. I delivered a series of presentations on the history of the Old Palace to support the tours. A special feature of the day was a small exhibition, entitled ‘Prisoners in the Palace’, located at the west end of the Long Gallery next to the window which Sir Thomas Tresham decorated with secret emblematic paintings in the 1590s. The exhibition concentrated on four prisoners: Tresham, George Cotton (translator of the ‘Japonian Epistles’), Edward Rookwood and William Catesby.
The exhibition also introduced the ‘Tresham Project’, a planned collaboration between The King’s School, Ely and Hirst Conservation to investigate whether any vestiges of Tresham’s original wallpaintings remain at the end of the Long Gallery. I will be updating this blog with the progress of the investigation once it commences, hopefully later this year.
Around 200 people visited the building during the course of the day. I am hoping that by next year’s Heritage Open Day, there will be a documentary film on the history of the Palace to show visitors.