The Manchester Mummy.
The Manchester Mummy makes for one of our most treasured (though mildly disturbing) tales. Coined as ‘one of the most remarkable objects in the museum’ by visitors back in the day, the Mummy was somewhat of a local celebrity in the 1800s.
After an upsurge in public fear of premature burial, local eccentric Hannah Beswick became terrified of her own death (and understandably so – it’s estimated around 2,000 people a year were buried alive accidentally during the period). When the time finally came, Beswick’s body was embalmed and kept above ground to be periodically checked for signs of life.
“The cold dark shadow of her mummy hung over Manchester in the middle of the eighteenth century.” – Edith Sitwell
Kept within an old clock case, visitors from all over Manchester would come to peer upon her mummified body at her family physician’s home. Grimly, there’s no public record of her desire to be embalmed at all – it’s thought the doctor who performed the procedure couldn’t resist adding her to his collection of curiosities.
Hannah’s body was later bequeathed to the Natural History Museum, becoming the star attraction on the very place EXHIBITION now stands. It was here where she was given the name “The Manchester Mummy”, greeting guests upon their arrival at the entrance of the museum.
Beswick was finally laid to rest over 100 years after her death in an unmarked grave. From respectable lady to morbid curiosity – Hannah’s tale is a strange one indeed. We like to think she still looks over us today – pop in to see our beautiful neon art of the local legend in the restaurant.
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