Join the residents of Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge as they celebrate Halloween in traditional style during the autumn half-term, 21st – 29th October. The Victorians marked All Hallows Eve with some curious customs and unusual rituals such as carving turnips (rather than the modern day pumpkins) into Jack-o-lanterns to frighten away evil spirits.
Visitors can play light-hearted divination and fortune telling games with the townsfolk in their cottages, follow a trail around the historic streets to discover more about Victorian Halloween traditions and ‘meet’ Sweeny Todd, the demon barber who will be looking for more victims to dispatch.
In Victorian England, Halloween was marked by the popular practice of ‘souling’, when children, and sometimes poor adults, would dress up and go around door-to-door offering prayers and songs in exchange for Soul Cakes, paving the way for our Trick or Treat custom. A selection of these simple round spiced cakes, which were often marked with a cross, will be on sale in the Town’s bakery.
Every day between 12 noon and 3pm (apart from Sunday, 29th October), everyone is invited to take part in the national Big Draw Festival to create spooky scenes of the Town using the Victorian pointillist painting technique, but with modern spray paint. With this method hundreds of dots of pure colour are applied to a picture; rather than mixing colours on a palette it relies on the eye of the painter to mix the colours. The completed scenes will be displayed at Ghostly Gaslight on Saturday evening, 28th October.
One of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Blists Hill is open 10am to 4pm, apart from 28th October when it closes at 3pm to prepare for the Ghostly Gaslight evening event. A great value Annual Passport Ticket allowing unlimited daytime entry into all ten museums costs £25 per adult, £20 for seniors, £15 for children under 16, £68 for a family of two adults and all their children and £50 for a family with one adult; under 5s free (terms and conditions apply); Passports can also be bought online in advance saving 10% and individual entry tickets are available at each museum. Activities and workshops vary day-to-day and some carry an extra charge.
For further information, call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk. The Gorge is easily reached via the M54 motorway exiting at Telford junction 4 or 6.
Publishers of Staffordshire Living Magazine