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Magic Lantern Show

30th March 2017 | Clubs, Local History Society


by Wickhambrook History Society

Robin Ford brought an actual ‘Magic Lantern’ to the March meeting so that he could show some of his very interesting collection of original slides.

Like most of the group, I had no idea that the first mention of a magic lantern was in the 1660s, in Samuel Pepys Diary. At the same time, Daniel Defoe was denouncing them as the work of the devil, as they were often used for special effects at séances.
The light at that time was made using quicklime which burned fiercely. This was used in theatres too, giving rise to the idea of people ‘in the limelight’. The Magic lenterns were taken to large country houses where a show would be put on and in Suffolk, Edwin Sydney of Little Cornard went around giving educational lectures. These were written up in the local newspapers.

Robin showed us some very interesting scenes of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Crystal Palace and HM Stanley in Africa during his search for David Livingstone. He also had some of Mickey Mouse, dating from 1930.

It is remarkable that such fragile objects still survive.

Next month is our AGM, at 7pm on Tuesday 18th April. This will be followed at 7.30 by’ Old Photographs of Villages around Newmarket’ with Peter Norman.

Dorothy Anderson

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