Salem Witch Trials FAQs

Q: Did the Salem Witch Trials happen in modern-day Salem or Danvers?
A: The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 happened throughout the region, with accused and accusers coming from Salem, Ipswich, Gloucester, Andover, Methuen, and other communities. Salem Village is now the town of Danvers, and some of the sites associated with the trials and hysteria are in Danvers. Salem Town, modern-day Salem, is where the trials actually took place, as well as the hangings and the pressing of Giles Corey.

Q: How was the practice of witchcraft viewed in 17th century New England?
A: Under British law, the basis for Massachusetts Bay Colony legal structure in the 17th century, those who were accused of consorting with the devil were considered felons, having committed a crime against their government. The punishment for such a crime was hanging.

 

Q: What was the difference between the “afflicted” and the “accused”?
A: The “afflicted” were those supposedly “possessed” and “tormented”; it was they who accused or “cried out” the names of those who were supposedly possessing them.

Q: Were only women accused of practicing witchcraft?
A: Men were accused as well. Five men were convicted and hanged, and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to cooperate with the court.

Q: Were the accused “swum” to determine if they were witches?
A: Not in Salem. The practice of swimming a witch was used in Europe, and in Connecticut, but not in Salem.

Q: Were any of the victims burned at the stake?
A: Not in Salem. Burning at the stake was punishment for heresy, a crime against the church, in Europe. Witchcraft was a felony in the colonies, a crime against the government.

Q: Where are the victims buried?
A: This question remains unanswered. It is believed that the bodies were cut down and dropped unceremoniously into a crevice on the side of Gallows Hill. Tradition has it that several families came to Gallows Hill to claim their relatives and buried their bodies privately.

 

Q: Is anyone buried in the Charter Street Cemetery who was connected to the Salem Witch Trials?
A: Magistrate John Hathorne: interrogator and member or the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and great-great-grandfather to Nathaniel Hawthorne (who added the “W” to his last name).

Bartholomew Gedney: a member of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and physician who was present during several examinations.

Mary Corey: Giles Corey’s second wife who died eight years before the Salem Witch Trials. Giles Corey was pressed to death in 1692 for refusing to stand trial and his third wife, Martha, was hanged three days later.

Reverend Nicholas Noyes: minister of Salem during the Witch Trials, he is likely buried in an unmarked grave. He eventually repented his treatment of the accused, and tradition follows that he suffered an internal hemorrhage and died choking on his own blood in 1717 (fulfilling a 1692 prophecy by Sarah Good that “God will give you blood to drink”).

Q: How is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial designed?
A: The memorial is surrounded on three sides by a handcrafted granite drywall. Inscribed in the stone threshold entering the memorial are the victims’ protests of innocence. These protests are interrupted mid-sentence by the wall, symbolizing society’s indifference to oppression. Five locust trees, the last to flower and the first to lose their leaves, represent the stark injustice of the trials. At the rear of the memorial, visitors view the tombstones of the adjacent cemetery a reminder of all who stood in mute witness to the hysteria.

FAQs courtesy of the Salem Witch Museum and Salem Award Foundation

Salem Haunted Happenings 2017

A festive celebration of Halloween and fall in New England, more than 250,000 people come to Salem Haunted Happenings each year.  Events include a Grand Parade, the Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, Family Film Nights on Salem Common, costume balls, ghost tours, haunted houses, live music, and chilling theatrical presentations. An ABA Top 100 Event.

For more information on visiting Salem in October, visit HauntedHappenings.org.

A Day in Salem for $50 or Less

A day-trip to Salem doesn’t have to break the bank. From free events and tours to reasonably priced attractions and restaurants, there is so much to see and do even with a tight budget in mind. Continue reading to learn tips for planning your next low-budget visit to Salem, Massachusetts:

Getting here

Parking costs in Salem range from $.25 to $1.00/hour at garages and metered spots. We recommend parking at the Museum Place Garage at 1 New Liberty Street, which is conveniently located across the street from the Salem Regional Visitor Center. Note: Many parking fees increase to $20 per day, cash on entry, during weekends in October. 

Public transportation to Salem is accessible through the MBTA commuter rail’s Newburyport/Rockport line which extends from cities north of Salem to Boston’s North Station. Ticket prices range from $3.25 – $7.50 (one way) depending on where you depart from.

Museums & Attractions

The Visitor Center is home to two films that can give some context for Salem’s history before you head out to explore. Where Past is Present is a free 27-minute film that gives an overview of Salem’s history. Salem Witch Hunt presented by Essex Heritage is a 38-minute film that focuses specifically on the Salem Witch Trials and costs only $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors and kids.

The National Park Service Rangers and volunteers at the Visitor Center can also help the kids complete Junior Ranger Programs, and brochures for various self-guided walking tours of Salem are available all free of charge. Salem’s Heritage Trail offers a free self-guided walk to many local historic sites, and the National Park Service also offers free guided and self-guided tours of the Custom House and Narbonne House on Derby Wharf.

Learn about the Salem Witch Trials by taking a tour of the Witch House. The home of Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin, the Witch House is the only building in Salem today with direct ties to the Witch Trials. Admission ranges from $8.25 for adults and $6.25 for kids for the guided tour and $6.25 for adults and $4.25 for kids for the self-guided tour.

Adjacent to the Witch House is the Ropes Mansion. Currently owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, the Ropes Mansion is open on Saturdays and Sundays for free self-guided tours. The Ropes Mansion (c. 1727) is a beautiful Georgian Colonial that was home to four generations of the Ropes Family. The Mansion contains original furnishing a variety of 18th and 19th-century artifacts including ceramics, glass, textiles, and more.

Moving on to the 20th century, guided tours of Historic New England’s Phillips House are available for just $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and $4.00 for students. Built in 1821, the Phillips House houses the collection of five generations, while presenting information on the lives of both the Phillips family and their domestic staff during the turn of the century.

Visit the Salem Wax Museum to learn more about the Salem Witch Trials and Salem’s maritime history. View exhibits with London-made wax figures from Salem’s and visit the museum’s interactive area to learn nautical knot-tying and gravestone rubbing. Admission to the Salem Wax Museum is $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for kids, and combination tickets with neighboring attractions are available for select dates.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is moving to a new, central location on Essex Street for Spring 2018! This monster movie museum is home to life-size figures and props all designed by Hollywood special effects artists. Admission to Count Orlok’s is $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids.

Events

Salem celebrates with a different festival each month of the year, many of which are free or inexpensive to attend. Spring events include the Salem Arts Festival and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

This summer visit the Salem Jazz & Soul Festival which happens at Salem Willows in August. This free event features live performances by local Jazz, Blues, and Soul artists from around the North Shore, local craft and artisan vendors, music education workshops, and more. (While the festival is free, donations or purchases of festival merchandise help support music education causes and additional free concerts on the North Shore).

The Antique & Classic Boat Festival takes place August 25-26, 2018 at the Brewer Hawthorne Cove Marina. For a $5 entry fee (kids 12 and under are free), you’ll be able to spend the day meeting with skippers and crew from rare vintage motor yachts and sailboats. Enjoy boat rides, craft markets, and music, and close out the event with the Blessing of the Fleet.

Flying Saucer Pizza Company

Fall festivals include Trails & Sails in September and Salem Haunted Happenings in October. A full list of annual festivals is available here, and all events may be viewed on our online calendar.

Dining

Grab and go lunches in Salem can help save you time and money. To pick up lunch on the run, grab a sandwich or salad from Milk & Honey, or stop for pizza at Essex’s NY Pizza and Deli or Flying Saucer Pizza Company.

Low-budget lunch does not always have to mean eating on the run. Red’s Sandwich Shop serves up all-day breakfast, sandwiches, pasta, salad, and classic entrees like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese many for under $10.00/person. Another great downtown lunch spot is Thai Place, where specials start at $6.95 for adults and $2.95.

You can visit every attraction listed here (and enjoy a $10 lunch) for $50. For more budget-friendly fun, check out our picks for the Top 10 Free Things to Do in Salem or create your own adventure.

 

 


The History Buff’s Guide to Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts is a history lover’s paradise. With colonial and maritime history, and the history of the Salem Witch Trials, along with spectacular architecture dating from the 17th to early 20th centuries, Salem offers a host of historical museums, attractions, and even restaurants and shops. Make history during your visit to Salem by checking out all there is to do, eat, and shop, or by following our suggestions below.

Upon arriving in Salem, visit the Salem Regional Visitor Center to get your bearings and catch a short introductory film. The Visitor Center offers two films that provide background information for your visit to Salem: Where Past is Present a 27-minute film covering the general history of Salem, and Salem Witch Hunt, a 35-minute film presented by Essex Heritage that focuses exclusively on the Salem Witch Trials.

 

 

Before leaving the Visitor Center, pick up a brochure or two for a free self-guided walking tour on a topic like Architecture in Salem or African American Heritage Sites in Salem. For another way to make your way to Salem’s historical sites on foot, catch the red line on the sidewalk and follow the Salem Heritage Trail. If you do not have time to complete an entire self-guided tour, pull out the guide when you happen to be near relevant sites to learn more on the go or break up the tour across multiple days.

From the Visitor Center, walk down Essex Street towards Washington Street. Pass the statue of Samantha from Bewitched and continue to the next intersection until you come to the Witch House. The building was home to Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin, making it the only remaining structure in Salem today with direct ties to the events in 1692. Take a tour of the house (guided or self-guided) to learn about Judge Corwin and his role in the Witch Trials as well as 17th-century architecture and home life.

 

 

 

Around the corner from the Witch House you will find the Ropes Mansion, which was built in 1727 and renovated in 1894. The architectural style of the building is detailed in the Architecture in Salem guide you may have picked up from the Visitor Center. The mansion is currently owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, which offers free self-guided tours of the interior on Saturdays and Sundays through the fall.

Walk back towards the Witch House to turn right onto Summer Street and take another right onto Chestnut Street going until you find #34, Historic New England’s Phillips House. Built in 1821, by Captain Nathaniel West, the home was later inhabited by the Phillips family, whose collection is on display for guests to view today. Tours of the Phillips House, which begin every half hour, offer insight into what day-to-day life was like in the early 20th-century for both the Phillips family and their staff. The building is designed in the Colonial Revival architectural style and is one another of the stops in the Architecture in Salem guide.

 

 

When you’re ready for lunch, continue back down Essex Street crossing the street by the beginning of the Pedestrian Mall and take a left. Continue down Washington Street until you come to Church Street on the right, and visit Turner’s Seafood for lunch. Turner’s location within the Lyceum brings allows guests to dine in the building where in 1877 Alexander Graham Bell completed the first long distance telephone call while enjoying a menu of fresh, locally sourced seafood dishes.

After lunch, return to the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall to visit Bewitched in Salem and pick up the Bewitched Historical Tour. This informative two-hour walking tour brings you to various sites where you will learn about Salem’s colonial history along with the history of the Salem Witch Trials, maritime lore, present-day Salem and more.

 

 

Following your walking tour, visit the House of the Seven Gables to learn not only about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel but also about the site’s architecture and local maritime history. Take a guided tour through the home, and visit the seaside gardens and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace. To take some of Salem’s history home with you, visit the House of the Seven Gables Gift Shop. The shop features literary-themed goods as well as historical treasures to remember your visit to Salem from home.

Do some more shopping for yourself or the history buffs you have waiting at home on your way back to the downtown area by stopping at Waite and Peirce on Derby Street. Waite and Peirce is home to authentic and recreated goods from Salem’s past and the shop is also a great place to pick up some additional information about the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

Want to make your “History Buff” day trip into an overnight stay? Book a room at one of Salem’s local historic inns, or at the Hawthorne Hotel, which is a Historic Hotel of America constructed in 1925.

For even more to see and do during your next visit to Salem, create your own adventure using the icons on our homepage.

Remarkable Women of Salem

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating the women who have contributed to Salem’s history over the years.  This year, 2018, we live in a Salem that has a woman at the helm, Mayor Kim Driscoll.

It is only fitting, as we make history going forward, that we acknowledge and celebrate the women in Salem’s past. As we approach Women’s History Day on March 25, there will be programs at the House of the Seven Gables, Phillips House Museum, and more.

Here are four women in Salem’s history whose stories we tell often:

Mary Spencer created the Gibralter, believed to be America’s first commercially produced candy, which is still sold at Ye Olde Pepper Companie.

Caroline Emmerton purchased the House of the Seven Gables, turned it into a museum, and use the profits from the museum to fund her Settlement House, which provided training for immigrant girls, boys, and adults.

Elizabeth Peabody opened the first Kindergarten in America.

Bessie Phillips establish the Stephen Philips Memorial Trust House as a museum to be enjoyed by all, which today is part of Historic New England and the only home on Chestnut Street that is open to the public.

The thirteen innocent women who were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials, accused of practicing witchcraft, are perhaps the inspiration for many of the bright and strong women who have led Salem ever since. We remember Bridget Bishop, Martha Carrier, Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Sarah Good, Dorcas Hoar, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, and Sarah Wildes.

For more information on the historic women of Salem, explore the Salem Women’s History Trail and celebrate Salem Women’s History Day this month at these events.

City of Salem Announces Plans for Memorial at Proctor’s Ledge

Proctor’s Ledge Memorial, Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture, LLC.

Last year a team of local scholars and researchers were able to confirm the location where the innocent victims of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were executed. Following this discovery, the City of Salem has worked with a number of individuals and organizations to come up with plans for a permanent memorial at this site. The memorial will come to fruition with the help of landscape architect Martha Lyon, local historians, Salem residents, descendants of the victims involved in the Witch Trials, and organizations like the Salem Award Foundation and the Gallows Hill Project Team.

The intended completion of the project is the spring or summer of this year, in order to line up with the 325th commemoration of the Salem Witch Trials. The City of Salem is also currently working towards securing funding efforts for the building and upkeep of the memorial. The clean-up efforts on both Pope Street and Proctor Street along with the memorial’s configuration and building specs have been funded by a Community Preservation Act grant of $174,000.

On the importance of the site as a memorial, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll states, “Salem is constantly looking to the lessons of its past. Whether it was through the formation of our No Place for Hate Committee and our landmark non-discrimination ordinance, or through the good work of the Salem Award Foundation, the lessons we learn from our history directly inform the actions we take today. Having this site memorialized, especially as we prepared to mark the 325th anniversary of that tragic event, presents an opportunity for us to come together as a community, recognize the injustice perpetrated against those innocents in 1692, and recommit ourselves to the values of inclusivity and justice.”

The memorial’s design is set to feature a downward slope from the ledge where historians believe the executions took place. A stone wall will enclose a circular space towards Pope Street at the bottom of the hill, where the names of the victims will be engraved. Lights will also be projected up from the ground to illuminate each individual name, and an oak tree (symbolic of endurance and dignity) will mark the center of the memorial. Work has already begun on the Proctor Street side of the memorial’s site, where maintaining a safe traffic pattern for visitation has become a priority. Plans are also in development to continue the overall cleanup effort of the site, and devise a plan for the use of plants to create privacy while visiting the memorial.

July 19, 1692

Salem MA Witchcraft in Salem Village
Salem MA Witchcraft in Salem Village

Witchcraft at Salem Village.

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 occurred in such a short amount of time, this being one of the reasons why they are so horrifically famous, and July 19th is no exception to the reasons.

Eight people were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged on July 19th.  Two of the first accused in 1692, Sarah Good and Sarah Wildes, were hanged that day, as well as the only minister to be executed during the trials: the Reverend George Burroughs.  It seems he was not only guilty of being a “witch”, but was overdue in repaying his debts to the Putnam’s; a prominent family in Salem Village whose daughter led the girls responsible for the accusations.  Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Martin, and Susanna Martin had all previously been accused of witchcraft, their charges dropped due to lack of evidence, but, like numerous historians and history books state, reasons or motives for many of the accusations in 1692 were due to politics and land disputes, making accusations about more than just witches.

Martha Carrier was unfortunate enough to land herself in a deathly land dispute with her neighbor, Benjamin Abbott.  After experiencing a disagreement, Abbott suddenly fell ill, and accused Carrier of bewitchment.  Not long after the accusation, he accused her whole family and made them testify against her in court.  She was hanged on July 19th, 1692.

John Proctor, one of the most famous victims of the trials due to Daniel Day Lewis’ film portrayal, was possibly the most outspoken citizen of Salem Village.  He would threaten to beat and whip the afflicted girls, knowing that they were lying and performing theatrics.  This was perilous to Proctor, as soon the girls accused his pregnant wife and then him.  In a final plea for help during this time of mass hysteria, Proctor composed and sent a letter to the Boston clergy asking them to intervene or move the trials to Boston.  This was to no avail for the poor man, as their reply came too late to save his own life, but was helpful in pardoning his wife’s’ and their unborn child’s.

One of the most memorable victims of the trials, was the beloved and pious Rebecca Nurse. A respected woman of Salem Village, Nurse was wrongly accused of witchcraft with no credible evidence against her.  “I am as innocent as the child unborn” stated Nurse.  39 citizens of Salem Village risked their lives in signing a petition to save this innocent woman.  Dismally, Nurse was given false hope, after first being found innocent there were fits and protests from the afflicted girls and townspeople, forcing the judge to order the jury to reconsider their verdict, resulting in her death sentence.

The fate of Rebecca Nurse might have been what sparked doubt in the people of Salem Village. How could this innocent, good-hearted Puritan woman be hanged for a crime she so clearly did not commit? Were these people really witches?

A month will pass before the next execution day. The Salem Witch panic is far from over.

-Margaret Kazan

Bridget Bishop, Hanged, June 10, 1692

bridget_bishop_stone_salemHysteria, wrongly accused for a crime you didn’t commit, tried, and hanged; try and picture what life was like in Salem Village, 1692.  The people of Salem Village had to face an immeasurable number of elements that constantly worked against them: unpredictable weather with no protection against the bitter New England cold, performed back-breaking daily chores their farmland needed, and maintained the mindset of the Puritan religion: the fear that the devil exists and might very well walk among us.

The courts during that time functioned completely different than the ones we know today, and allowed the inclusion of spectral evidence.  Spectral evidence was when the witness would testify that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to her/him in a dream at the time that their physical body was at another location.  It was because of this “evidence” that 19 people were hanged and one man was pressed to death during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

The first person to be tried, found guilty, and hanged on June 10, was the innocent Bridget Bishop.  Bridget was known throughout the Salem area for her un-Puritan like behavior of flamboyant dress, tavern frequenting, and multiple marriages.  In an effort to avoid being hanged, Bridget admitted guilt and denounced her good name in the community.  She was found guilty by the testimonials of numerous townspeople (more than any other defendant) and was therefore executed on June 10, 1692.

– Margaret Kazan, Destination Salem

Spotlight on the Salem Witch Trials

The Trial of George JacobsThe Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating time in American history, and the stories of the victims and their accusers have withstood the test of time, holding the fascination of people from around the world.  Any great story changes and evolves as it is told and retold, and from time to time it is good to check back in with the facts.  There are many misconceptions of the Trials and the hysteria, as well as frequently asked questions, and the Salem Witchcraft Trials has inspired re-tellings in literature and film for centuries.

Here is our “top-ten” list of misconceptions, frequently asked questions, and favorite retellings.

It all happened in Danvers, not Salem.  The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 happened throughout the region, with accused and accusers coming from Salem, Ipswich, Gloucester, Andover, Methuen, and other communities.  Salem Village is now the town of Danvers, and some of the sites associated with the trials and hysteria are in Danvers.  Salem Town, modern day Salem, is where the trials actually took place, as well as the hangings and the pressing of Giles Corey.  Voices Against Injustice has produced a Visitor’s Guide to 1692, which is available through Destination Salem, the Salem Regional Visitor Center, and several participating sites.

Gallows Hill is a soccer field today.  Maybe, but maybe not. There is definitely a soccer field up on a hill in a neighborhood that is called, “Gallows Hill.” That much is true. That said, the location of the gallows or hanging tree (we are not sure which was used) is not on any modern map.  We recommend people go to the Witch Trials Memorial, adjacent to the Old Burying Point, to remember the victims and consider the past.  Please treat the Memorial with respect when you visit, and note that the Witch Trials Memorial is closed between dusk and dawn.

The House of the Seven Gables was part of the Salem Witch Trials. The mansion does date back to 1668, so it was here during the trials, but the house itself does not have direct ties to the Witch Trials. The Turner family lived in the house in the 17th-century, and they made their fortune at sea.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather was Judge John Hathorne, one of the “hanging judges” during the trials, and his involvement with the Witchcraft Hysteria drove Hawthorne to add the “w” to his name and write The House of the Seven Gables, which is fiction.

The victims really were witches. Doubtful.  It is equally doubtful that the accusers were witches.  The Salem Witchcraft Trials were a social hysteria that spun out of control.

The accused were “swum” to determine if they were a witch.  Not in Salem. The practice of swimming a witch was used in Europe, and in Connecticut, but not in Salem.

Victims were burned at the stake.  Not in Salem.  Burning at the stake was punishment for heresy, a crime against the church, in Europe.  Witchcraft was a felony in the colonies, a crime against the government.

The Hysteria ended in October.  The Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved by Governor Phips in October, and a new Superior Court was convened to try the remaining witchcraft cases. The Superior Court condemned three additional people in January 1693, but Governor Phips pardoned them and all who were still imprisoned on the charge of witchcraft.  Not everyone was freed, however, as prisoners had to pay for their imprisonment before being released.

On stageThe Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a remarkable play that is set in Salem in 1692. Miller wrote the story as allegory for the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that was having its own social witch hunt for communism in the 1950s.  The play is fiction, inspired by actual events and actual people.  Historian Margo Burns writes more in her essay, “Picky, Picky, Picky.”

On the big screen: Hocus Pocus is definitely fiction, but it sure is fun.  A bigger hit in DVD and on network television each October than it was in theatres when it was released in 1993, the story of the Sanderson sisters, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimi is one of our favorites, and many of the locations where they filmed in Salem are still here.

In literature: The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent, is about Martha Carrier’s family. Told from the perspective of Martha’s daughter, Sarah, it is a wonderful work of fiction inspired by actual events.  Katherine Howe’s novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, is also an engaging work of historical fiction inspired by the events of 1692.

Resources and References:

Voices Against Injustice gives the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice annually and maintains the Witch Trials Memorial.

The Salem Witch Museum FAQ Page, Witch Trials Weekly, and Miscellany

Salem Witch Trials Documents Archive and Transcription Project, University of Virginia

17thc.us, Historian Margo Burns

Books:

Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England, David D. Hall

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, Marilynne K. Roach

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, Bernard Rosenthal

Historic Burying Grounds

Historic Burying Grounds

Charter Street Cemetery. Photo: Jasmine Gordon

Salem has three cemeteries that are significant to the Witch Trials of 1692. The Howard Street Cemetery is said to be where Giles Corey was taken to be pressed to death, a torture chosen because he refused to stand trial. George Corwin, who served as the high sheriff of Essex County in 1692, and his brother Jonathon Corwin, the Salem merchant who lived in the “Witch House” when he served as magistrate during the trials, are both buried in the Broad Street Cemetery. A white obelisk marks their grave.

The Charter Street Cemetery is the final resting place for at least two members of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, including physician Bartholomew Gedney and magistrate John Hathorne, who was the great-great grandfather of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. Also buried here is Mary Corey, the first wife of Giles Corey, who died in 1684. Giles’ third wife, Martha Corey, was hanged for Witchcraft during the trials.

These three cemeteries, and the Witch Trial Memorial, which is behind the Charter Street Cemetery, are open to the public from dawn to dusk. We ask that visitors treat the graves with respect, and appreciation for their age and solemnity.

The Witch in the Wood

The new feature film THE WITCH was released nationwide today after a series of premiere events that culminated in a fantastic evening of history and horror in Salem last night.  Writer/Director Robert Eggers and star Anya Taylor Joy came to Salem to attend the screening at CinemaSalem in addition to several media events. Eggers and Joy visited The Witch House, attended a reception at the Salem Witch Museum, and answered questions during a panel immediately following the film.

There is a lot that can go wrong with a film like THE WITCH, which is the story of “one family’s frightful unraveling,” set in 17th century New England.  The history, the setting, the dialect, the dialog, the witch could all be horribly portrayed. But they are not.  With painstaking detail, this film gets it all right. It is terrifying and accurate and it transports the audience to a place of, to quote one of the audience members at the Salem screening, “abject terror” that was the reality of 17th century New England.

My visceral reaction to the film aside, the historians in the theater agreed: this film is excellent.  (As one historian said, “So very may films have gotten the history so very wrong, we were all prepared for the worst.”)  If you want to know what the afflicted children went through in 1692, see THE WITCH. If you want to grasp the importance of religion and faith in a Puritan family, see THE WITCH. If you want to feel the fear that pulsated through the family’s farm in exile, see THE WITCH.

Eggers has created a beautiful, haunting film that will stay with me for a very long time, and Anya Taylor Joy is mesmerizing as Thomasin. It was a pleasure having them in Salem for the screening.

The film is in wide release, but we think you should see it at CinemaSalem, of course.

Lots of people are writing about THE WITCH. We really like Brunonia Barry’s perspective, which was posted on Huffington Post: The Tangled, Feminine History of The Witch

Salem.org