I have always loved magic shows and was thrilled to discover there are a few ways non-members can visit The Magic Circle London headquarters.
You could book an evening event to see a magic show in their theater but I chose The Magic Circle Experience which is a daytime visit with a tour of the building and a brief history of the magical arts, a visit to the museum, a close-up magic show and a live performance in their theater.
History of Magic
It turns out magic has been around for thousands of years as a papyrus was found in Egypt illustrating the details of an Egyptian magician called Dedi from 2011BC who could cut off a chicken's head and then reattached it. The Westcar Papyrus is on display at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. Dedi also did the cups and ball trick so this must be the oldest magic trick in the world.
History of The Magic Circle
The Magic Circle was founded in 1905 and the first president was David Devant. The current headquarters has The Devant Room so he's never forgotten. There are currently 80 ladies out of 1400 members. The building is on a small back street near Euston station and has a magnificent staircase to admire upon arrival. It is also known as The House of 10,000 Secrets.
The Magic Circle Museum
This basement room has a fantastic collection of magic-related artifacts. Everything is in glass cabinets but visit for 'The Magic Circle Experience' and you'll get a guided tour of the collection. We saw film props worn and used by Woody Allen and Michael Caine as well as the cups and ball used by The Magic Circle's most famous member: HRH Prince Charles.
There is a recreated window of Bland's Magical Palace which was a magic shop that was on Oxford Street in the 1800s. We learned that all of the stock was bought by the Noah's Ark toy shop (so named as they could only sell a Noah's Ark toy at the weekend as that was all children were allowed to play with on the Sabbath) and that the toy shop became Hamleys on Regent Street. And ever since Hamleys has had a Magic Department.
There are also lots of magic show posters and one original artwork on display is worth £1 million.
Close-up Magic Show
In The Devant Room there are more displays including a cabinet of Paul Daniels artifacts and another for Tommy Cooper. There's a Harry Houdini cabinet with a model of the Chinese Water Torture Cell and the only voice recording of Houdini.
For the close-up magic show I sat in the front row and even got to join in for a 'pick a card' trick. We all sat their with gaping mouths as we were fooled again and again.
The Magic Circle Theatre
The theater seats up to 162 and we saw a performance by Henry Lewis, who is the Hon. Vice President of The Magic Circle and a Gold Star Medalist performer. He has been a member of The Magic Circle since 1946 and is a curator here now. I put my hand up to be a volunteer and got a teddy bear as a thank you so it's always worth joining in.
We all left wondering how they keep their secrets. How the word hasn't been spread in this day and age when people seem to keep very few secrets and live sharing their life online. We all also felt the visit had awakened within us a love of traditional magic shows even with so many entertainment options available now.
The Magic Circle Experience - Booking Details
The Magic Circle Experience runs on selected Monday mornings and is suitable for children aged 8 and above. The visit lasts for around 1.5-2 hours and you are welcomed with tea and coffee before the tour starts. Large groups can attend or you can book as an individual. You need to call to make the payment before your visit although you can email to check booking availability.
Tel: 020 7387 2222
The Magic Circle
12 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HD
Nearest Tube Stations: Euston /Euston Square / Warren Street
Use Journey Planner to plan your route by public transport.
Official Website: www.themagiccircle.co.uk