Hallowed Histories, which last year was sponsored by the Second Air Division Memorial Library, is beginning a second season. To kick off this annual event, we are offering a free-to-the-public screening of The Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968) and the short featurette The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge (Dan Zeff, 2015). The screening will be introduced by historian and University of East Anglia Professor Malcolm Gaskill. Professor Gaskill’s work largely focuses on the witch trials of East Anglia and the folklore, superstitions and facts surrounding a period that he has coined as being a ‘17th Century English Tragedy’.
This may not initially seem relevant to the mission of the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library and its continued establishment of the ‘friendship bridge’ between the United States and the local area, however, many might not realise that the self-appointed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, himself a resident of Manningtree a civil parish located on the Essex/ Suffolk borders, almost immigrated to the US with his father, a Suffolk Puritan minister. In fact, the plans were drawn up and the Hopkins family was all set to go until the unforeseen and untimely death of James Hopkins. It is indeed an ironic coincidence that the man who might be seen as being chiefly responsible for the East Anglian Witch Trial mania almost found himself residing in Massachusetts, the state in which Salem is located!
However, not only is Matthew Hopkins connected to the US colonies, but Professor Gaskill’s most recent monograph, entitled Between Two Worlds: how the English Became Americans (2014) also further explores this ‘special’ relationship.
The film screening of Witchfinder General will take place on the 19th of October at UEA’s Julian Study Centre room 3.02 starting 7:00 pm to be followed by a drinks reception. Although tickets are free, we do suggest that you book a place through Eventbrite to ensure a place. To listen to our podcast interview, for more information on this and the other events that make up this year’s Hallowed Histories or to book for this event, follow the links to be found on our website at www.hallowed-histories.org You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram at Hallowed Histories or at Twitter at @hallowedhist.
And finally, be sure to drop in to the Memorial Library where Professor Gaskill’s book is available.